Happy game day. There were some concerns about whether the San Francisco 49ers would host Arizona Cardinals today due to the air quality, but all reports indicate that the game will go on. The Cardinals traveled to the Bay Area on Saturday. Game on.
The NFL is planning to play both games as scheduled as of Saturday night but continues to monitor the situation, per Pro Football Talk. The decision to potentially postpone the game is tricky, as Pro Football Talk pointed out the actual numbers on the official Air Quality Index website haven’t been meshing with the forecast.
“For example, Inglewood’s current reading grossly exceeds the forecast for Saturday of 87,” Mike Florio wrote. “And there’s no forecast yet available for Sunday, which seems ominous given the current number.”
Those actual measurements are far above the estimates, which means both the Cardinals-49ers and Cowboys-Rams games could be in jeopardy if this is the situation Sunday. Rams head coach Sean McVay reiterated Friday the Cowboys-Rams game will be played, despite the AQI playing a factor.
“My process is different with each individual. Kind of depends on how I feel about the individual and what they can handle, what they can do with the limited reps,” Shanahan said Friday in a video conference. “One good thing is we usually don’t let guys come back and put them in practice until they’ve had a few healthy days before that. So, it means he’s going in the right direction. It means he probably right now, I feel he could get through it. We’ve just got to decide on what that risk is. That’ll be something that you constantly talk to the trainers about, but it’s also, at this point, something that we’ve got to keep really talking to Brandon about. We’ll make sure that we do what’s best for him.”
Aiyuk’s status will probably come down to how he feels in warmups on Sunday.
If he does suit up though it’s hard to imagine San Francisco plays him a full workload of snaps. Aiyuk, a rookie who hasn’t had a ton of practice time, already figured to see a scaled-down role compared to what the team envisions for him long-term. We probably see an even smaller of that Sunday if he plays.
“I still don’t think that team in totality, is on the level of the San Francisco 49ers,” Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Plus, Arizona’s defense was pretty damn bad last year. Yes I know Arizona played the 49ers tough last year and all of that, I don’t think the 49ers will be caught by surprise by them this time around.”
Simms expressed the utmost confidence in the 49ers, but also gave some pretty high praise to Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who took home the Offensive Rookie of the Year with Arizona last season.
“Kyler Murray, I mean he’s a superstar,” Simms said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if he was one of the five best quarterbacks in football when it’s all said and done this year.”
Here are five free agent receivers worthy of consideration:
Butler was cut last week by the Arizona Cardinals, something of a surprise considering he was one of the coveted picks of the 2019 draft. While really bringing nothing to the table in terms of veteran experience (Butler sat out his rookie season with a broken hand), he shapes up as an intriguing choice.
At 6’5” and around 227 lbs, Butler outsizes most NFL defensive backs by a good amount, and he is physically a good replacement for Jalen Hurd. Butler has gotten downgraded by some for dropping passes on occasion, but there’s plenty of college film documenting his ability to haul in difficult catches. Once the ball is in his hands, he’s shown he can plow over tacklers, and that’s the “YAC” factor Shanahan cherishes. Caging in Butler isn’t easy, and if given the chance he could prove a nice fit for Shanahan’s offense.
“Kyle (Shanahan) made a point of it today,” Juszczyk said. “We went through a bunch of really impressive stats of what we did as a team running the ball last year. All these different records we set. Our averages per game, averaging 200 yards per game in the playoffs, all those kinds of things.”
That wasn’t the case against Arizona, though.
“But he kind of summed it all up with Arizona only knows us as the team that ran for, I think, a hundred yards (101) in the first game against them and like 30 yards (34) against them in the second game. So, they don’t look at us as the team that had three different running backs that averaged like six yards per carry and all that kind of stuff. They see us as a team that they were able to kind of shut down in the run game and a team that they played very well against.
“We just feel like they did a good job of moving guys around a lot, bringing a lot of pressure, that sort of thing, and kind of moving guys off the rules. They had a good game plan for us in both matchups, but we’re looking to fare a little bit better this time.”
The players saw cutaways to fans in the stands hugging each other as the 49ers rolled to a 37-20 victory.
Ultimately, Shanahan’s point was that those same fans are still with them – even if they do not see them or hear them on Sunday.
“I want to inspire people. I want our players to inspire people. I think we did last year, and I think it’s needed more right now,” Shanahan said. “Even though you won’t feel it in the stands because they’re not there, I think reminding the players how much you do inspire people will hopefully inspire them to have that same type of energy.”