The Niners beat the Cardinals twice last season. The first matchup was on Halloween when San Francisco came away with a 28-25 win in Week 9 to improve to 8-0. Then, just two weeks later, the 49ers rallied late to come back and get a 36-26 win. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo found running back Jeff Wilson Jr. for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining to put San Francisco up 30-26 before D.J. Reed recovered a fumble in the end zone to end the game.
Here are the predictions for Week 1 from Niners Nation contributors:
Kyle Posey: I’m expecting a sloppy game early on that includes some poor tackling, communication, and overall play that allows both offenses to put points on the board before both teams settle in. I think Arizona’s points come early and at the end, but it’ll be too little too late.
The difference in this one will be the 49ers defensive line forcing Kyler Murray to be uncomfortable. Last season, the Cardinals were 32nd in DVOA against tight ends. They also allowed the fourth-most yards to tight ends. I’m expecting the 49ers to live in 12 personnel this game and take advantage of Arizona not being able to guard George Kittle and Jordan Reed. With a healthy offensive line, I’m also looking for Kyle Shanahan to get his running game going after averaging three yards per carry on 50 carries in two games against Arizona last season.
Kyle’s prediction: 49ers 30, Cardinals 24
Rob Guerrera: While the Cardinals did give the 49ers trouble in both meetings last year, the more the 49ers saw of Arizona, the better they did against them. In the first game, the 49ers defense gave up 7.1 yards per play. In the second game, that number fell to just 4.3 yards per play. Kenyan Drake gashed San Francisco for 162 total yards in game one - 8.5 yards per touch. In the second game, that number fell to 80 total yards and 3.6 yards per touch. An offseason’s worth of preparation will help both offenses score points early, but the 49ers will adjust over the course of the game and put the squeeze on the Cardinals for four quarters.
Rob’s prediction: SF wins, 27-17
Jas Kang: Arizona is getting some love from around the league as the most improved team in the NFL coming into the 2020 season. The Cardinals added receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans for spare parts, pairing him alongside the ageless Larry Fitzgerald. Quarterback Kyler Murray’s mobility gave the 49ers’ vaunted pass rush some issues during the two meetings last year. The second-year QB ran for 101 yards and a touchdown over the pair of games and had a 116.25 passer rating against the 49ers. But, San Francisco is the deeper team on both sides of the ball. Missing Deebo Samuel hurts, but the Niners have plenty of weapons on offense to help mitigate the loss. Divisional matchups are always tough to predict. I think the 49ers will pull ahead before the Cardinals make things interesting with a late score.
Jas’ prediction: SF wins 31-24
What is your prediction for the final score?