The 49ers are trying to avoid losing three games in a row. Their new challenge is the boiling hot Arizona Cardinals. San Francisco’s defensive backs face another challenging task covering a well-built receiver room that includes DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Rondale Moore.
DeMeco Ryans spoke about the Cardinals’ imposing receiver room.
You look at Arizona’s production receivers. There are like five of them, with almost the same exact line. Are they running the air-raid to near perfection when they’re that balanced, and then how difficult is it to prepare for something that could go to any of those receivers?
“Yeah, you have to be dialed in, like you said, they have a lot of weapons. When it comes to their receivers, it’s probably the most complete group we’ll see, as far as the playmakers and guys who’ve been in this league and done it at a high level. So, the ball can go anywhere. So, everybody has to be on top of their job. Everybody just has to be disciplined from a defensive standpoint, nobody has to panic or anything. Everybody just has to be disciplined, play with good eyes and we’ll make the plays we should make.”
Ryans is spot on. This is the most complete receiver group the 49ers defense will see. A.J. Green’s reemergence takes this receiver room over the top. 49er fans will remember DeAndre Hopkins having his way in Week 1 last season. Christian Kirk is entering his fourth year and looks comfortable as he’s ever been in the slot. The rookie Rondale Moore has shown he is capable of explosive plays.
Josh Norman ditching his non-contact jersey is great news for the defense. Emmanuel Moseley limited DK Metcalf to three catches for 53 yards on seven targets. He has to keep that play up as Hopkins got the best of him in the Week 1 matchup last season.
Kyle Posey mentioned on The Shanaplan that Arizona liked spreading the defense with 10 personnel (4 WR’s, No TE, 1RB.) Don’t be surprised if Ryans featured different personnel this week. San Francisco hasn’t shown much of the Dime (6 DB’s) package. I would expect that to change Sunday. Playing more defensive backs puts more speed on the field.
Getting sacks on Kyler Murray will help kill drives. Dee Ford has been one of the most productive pass-rushers for San Francisco this year. Ryans spoke on Fords’ usage below.
I appreciate DL Dee Ford’s injury history and I’m sure you have to be cautious with him. But he obviously looked very explosive on Sunday, but he only played 12 snaps. How do you balance that and is the fact that he has a game where he just plays 12 snaps are you watching out for him and making sure he can get through a whole season?
“Yeah. Dee has done a great job for us. Dee has done a great job of getting after the quarterback and that’s what Dee does really well. And he’s done it at a high level for a long time. So when it comes to snap counts or however that game dictates, each game is different. So whatever it dictates for his snap counts, he’s ready to go. He’s shown the explosion, the speed off the edge, and he’s been a playmaker for us. So, I’m happy with where Dee is.”
I guess when he is a playmaker and he does look explosive, why doesn’t he play more than 12 snaps?
“Yeah. That’s the role we have for him now and if it’s 12 snaps it’s not a set like Dee is only getting this amount of plays. However, the game dictates his reps go, that’s how it goes for him.”
It’s time to unleash Ford and put him in the game more outside of passing situations.
Ford and Nick Bosa have been arguably the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL this season. Ford has three sacks on only 78 snaps:
The first edition of the True Sack Rate grading every DL sack of the season dropped earlier today for subscribers. Here is the top 33 overall in 'sack score' through the first quarter of the season:https://t.co/7byPesUtg3 pic.twitter.com/eByxEdAivT— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 7, 2021
The 49ers are the only team with two pass rushers in the top-10. No other player in the league sacks the quarterback at a higher rate on a per-snap basis than Ford. With the way Kyler Murray can move, it’ll be all hands on deck to slow down the Cardinals. There isn’t a better defensive line that’s up for the task than the 49ers.