The 49ers are fresh off a 22-16 win over a Chargers defense that has allowed the 4th-most points in the league. On Monday night, the 49ers will face an Arizona Cardinals defense that has allowed the 3rd-most points. However, it’ll be a different challenge as the Cardinals' defense is the opposite of the Chargers': good against the run but struggles against the pass.
Here are the five players to watch on the 49ers' offense in Mexico City:
RB Elijah Mitchell & RB Christian McCaffrey
The biggest surprise from the 49ers' Week 10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers was that Elijah Mitchell led the offense in touches. In his first game back from injury, Mitchell finished with a team-high 18 carries for 89 yards against the Chargers' 30th-ranked run defense.
McCaffrey wasn’t too far behind, however, with 18 touches of his own, going for 77 yards with a rushing touchdown. Arizona’s rush defense should put up a tougher fight than the Chargers, ranking 9th in the league against the run, giving up an average of 110.5 rushing yards per game. The touch count between the two running backs will be something to watch as Kyle Shanahan tries to navigate against a better run defense.
WR Deebo Samuel
While Arizona is good against the run, they struggle against the pass, allowing 247.1 passing yards per, which is the 10th-worst in the league. They particularly struggle where Deebo Samuel excels the most: yards after the catch. While Samuel is 4th in the league averaging 9.2 YAC per reception, the Cardinals' defense has allowed the most yards after the catch allowing 6.2 YAC per reception. Samuel has now had back-to-back weeks with just six touches each, but there should be plenty of touches to go around near the line of scrimmage to take advantage of the Cardinals' secondary.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Last month, I mentioned that Garoppolo had a chance to go three consecutive weeks without an interception for just the second time since joining the 49ers. He proceeded to then throw two interceptions during the 49ers' Week 6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Guess who’s once again gone consecutive weeks without an interception?
Not coincidentally, the 49ers are 5-0 this season when Garoppolo doesn’t throw an interception and are 0-3 when he does. Arizona has seven interceptions through 10 games, with Budda Baker collecting his first of the season last week while playing through a high ankle sprain. It’s a struggling pass defense but one that can force the occasional turnover, so Garoppolo will need to be wary as he tries to continue his streak of interception-free games.
RT Mike McGlinchey
McGlinchey has struggled of late, allowing seven pressures and three sacks in his last three games but was good enough against the Chargers, allowing just one pressure, while Khalil Mack was credited with just two. Next up: JJ Watt.
The Cardinals' pass rusher has taken the majority of his snaps against the left side of the opposing offense. He’s seen an increased amount of snaps on the right side of the offense peaking at 27 last week against the Rams. Watt could see even more snaps on the right side of the line, especially early to try to test the type of night McGlinchey will have. He leads the Cardinals with 35 pressures and 5.5 sacks as McGlinchey will look for consecutive solid weeks.