49ers v. Cardinals: Position by position

Here is how the 49ers stack up with the Cardinals position by position:

QUARTERBACKS: 49ers. The Cardinals might have made the playoffs last season if Carson Palmer hadn’t thrown 22 interceptions. Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Logan Thomas is a quality backup.

RUNNING BACKS: 49ers. Andre Ellington is a terrific, young running back who averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season. But he’s a small, change-of-pace running back. The Cardinals still need a back who can carry the load.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Cardinals. This one is close. I pick Arizona because their top-three receivers complement each other very well. Larry Fitzgerald is the possession receiver in the slot. Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn are the deep threats outside. The 49ers have three possession receivers.

TIGHT ENDS: 49ers. Not close. Rob Housler isn’t in Vernon Davis’ class.

OFFENSIVE LINE: 49ers. This offseason, the Cardinals signed a good left tackle — Jared Veldheer. But San Francisco still has a much better offensive line than Arizona.

BASE DEFENSIVE LINE: Cardinals. The Cardinals gave up fewer yards per carry than the 49ers last season. Calais Campbell is a much better run defender than Justin Smith at this stage in their careers.

NICKEL DEFENSIVE LINE: 49ers. Calais Campbell is an elite interior defensive lineman, but the Cardinals lack edge rushers.

LINEBACKERS: 49ers. The Cardinals lost Karlos Dansby in the offseason. Patrick Willis and Ahmad Brooks are better than Daryl Washington and Matt Shaughnessy.

CORNERBACKS: Cardinals. Arizona signed Antonio Cromartie this offseason. He has been a Pro Bowler the past two seasons. Ditto for Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals’ No.1 cornerback.

SAFETIES: 49ers. Eric Reid is a better safety than Tyrann Mathieu. The Cardinals probably will start a rookie at strong safety — first-round pick Deone Bucannon. The 49ers will start a veteran — Antoine Bethea.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Cardinals. Justin Bethel led the NFL in special teams tackles last season with 20. And Ted Ginn Jr. is one of the best punt returners in the league.

This article has 11 Comments

  1. LF doesn’t just play slot.
    And he doesn’t automatically move inside when they go 3-wide.
    But anyway…

  2. Niners receiving corps is the best in the NFC. I can’t take you seriously if you’re comparing Michael Floyd and Tedd Ginn to either of the niners #2 or #3 receivers. Forget about complements. Which receivers make plays? In addition, Boldin, Crabtree, and Johnson have lined up all over the place throughout their careers. They are versatile, strong, and great route runners. They’re not burners, but they do everything else extremely well. Stevie Johnson could have better hands though…

    1. Honestly, name a team whose receiving corps you would rather have than the niners in the NFC. Shoot, include AFC too.

    2. Floyd and Ginn were two of 14 receivers who averaged at least 15 yards per catch and scored at least 5 TDs last season.

      1. As much as it pains me to do so, I have to side with Grant on this one. Fitzgerald and Floyd compliment one another perfectly and Ginn gives them the stretch the field presence to make them even more effective. Fitz is still one of the best in the game.

  3. I think da best Wr core in da NFC would be da bears…. Niners are close but AJ, BM, and now josh Morgan ….

  4. grant you say you rate the cards receivers over the niners because they are 3 deep threats vs niners 3 possessions guys…I cant agree with your reasoning…the deep pass is a low% play whereas possession guys can move the chains, produce long scoring drives that keep you defense off the field

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