Final tuneup for Brock Purdy; Five burning questions for 49ers vs Cardinals


The San Francisco 49ers will look to earn the top seed in the NFC Playoffs when they face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

San Francisco currently holds the second seed and a win coupled with a loss by Philadelphia to the New York Giants would give them home field advantage and a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The 49ers also need to be aware of what takes place in Minnesota earlier in the day. A Vikings win over the Chicago Bears would mean the 49ers must win to stay at two.

The Cardinals has lost eight of their last nine games including six in a row. Over the course of their six-game losing streak they have managed more than 19 points just once.

Sunday will also mark the final game for J.J. Watt. Over the course of his twelve-year career Watt was a first team All Pro five times. Watt has recorded 10.5 sacks this season, his most since 2018.

Here are five things to watch for during the game on Sunday afternoon.

1.) Will the 49ers defense struggle against another unknown quarterback?

The 49ers defense had a rough game against Jarrett Stidham last week, a player they knew little about. Making his first start as a Raider, Stidham finished 23-34, 365 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Stidham also ran the ball seven time for 34 yards.

Next up for San Francisco is David Blough.

Blough has made six career NFL starts. His first five came with Detroit in 2019 and he made his first start for Arizona last week. In the Cardinals 20-19 loss to Atlanta, Blough finished 24-40, 222 yards and one touchdown.

Blough will be without several of Arizona’s top weapons. Wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Robby Anderson missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and are unlikely to play. Same with top running back James Connor.

2.) A record setting day for Nick Bosa?

Nick Bosa leads the NFL in sacks with 17.5. With two more on Sunday, he can tie Aldon Smith for the most in franchise history.

Bosa also leads the NFL with 47 quarterback hits. If he can register at least three against Arizona, he will become the second player since 2006 to register 50 or more quarterback hits in a season.

In the first meeting between the NFC West rivals earlier this season in Mexico City, Bosa finished with a sack and four hits on Colt McCoy.

3.) A strong finish for Brock Purdy?

Brock Purdy has answered every question about his ability to lead the 49ers offense since taking over against Miami. His performance while leading San Francisco back from a ten-point second half deficit last week in Las Vegas being the latest box he’s checked off.

Sunday provides the final opportunity for the rookie quarterback to gain valuable snaps before the start of the postseason.

Purdy will look to extend his streak of throwing at least two touchdown passes in a game. His current five gave streak is the most by a 49ers quarterback since 2001 when Jeff Garcia threw at least two touchdowns in eight straight.

4.) At least 44 yards receiving for Brandon Aiyuk?

2022 has been a career year for Brandon Aiyuk. The third-year wide receiver has eight touchdown receptions and needs 44-yards on Sunday to hit 1,000 in a season for the first time.

Aiyuk had only two catches for 20 yards the first time these two teams met this season. Arizona will not have Budda Baker on Sunday. Arizona placed the safety on injured reserve with a fractured shoulder following their loss to Tampa Bay on Christmas.

5.) How long will the starters play?

Resting starters has not been something Kyle Shanahan has said he will do. How long they play is another story and will likely depend on the outcome of Minnesota’s game in the morning and how the Eagles game with New York is progressing.

Elijah Mitchell is expected to return on Sunday. Mitchell has not played since suffering his second knee injury of the season against New Orleans in week 12. Although he carried the ball 18 times earlier this season when returning from injury it is likely Mitchell will have his touches limited this time around.

Deebo Samuel has been practicing all week and appears headed towards making a return on Sunday. As with Mithcell, expect to see his touches limited as well.


49ers 27 Cardinals 16

This article has 11 Comments

  1. JJ Watt is the best defensive lineman I’ve ever seen play when he was at the height of his game. Should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. I would fight my teammates to get that jersey after the game. Maybe Dre can get him to sign it.

    Will we see the 49er QB backup in this game? Might be good to get Johnson some snaps. I’m going to be sitting throughout this entire game holding my breath with everything clinched until the game is over. Hopefully the 49ers can put it away early and let guys sit.

    David Blough is not a bad QB. I think he had a pretty big game on one Thanksgiving in Detroit. Pretty athletic and has a big heart. Leaves it all on the field. Helps that he doesn’t have the big name WRs but those other guys are also professional football players so the 49ers can’t sleep on this game.

    Is there a chance Aaron Banks and Jimmy Garoppolo might be available before the end of the playoffs?

  2. Sounds like Kinlaw and Armstead may not play due to illness. Greenlaw is questionable. We are playing a somewhat unknown but athletic QB with a banged up D. We would all love to see the 9ers jump out to a big lead but that may not happen. I hope Ryans blitzes Blough much more than he blitzed Stidham.

  3. I believe that the 9er defense learned a big lesson, after last weeks showing by Stidham…Nick Bosa admitted to taking Stidham lightly…and if he did, my guess is that he wasn’t alone in that mindset..I’m sure DeMeco has made a point that their heads be in the right place for this game…this is no time to back off the throttle. The 9ers need to play 9er football, dominate the game and come out with a win…

    1. Hey 55Niner. DeMeco Ryan’s needs to talk to that Secondary about not allowing big pass plays for huge gains. In the playoffs the Niners will face teams tougher than the Raiders and Cardinals who throw deep down the field. Teams like the Packers, Cowboys, Eagles, Vikings, possibly Detroit if they sneak in. Because unfortunately the defense has had chinks exposed in their armor. Ryans, fix it. GO NINERS!!

      1. Agree.. I think the aggressive style that Hufanga plays with can be part of the issue…he’s been caught looking in the backfield and biting on fakes, while the CB’s are expecting help over the top that wasn’t there….CWard is able to handle his own, while Lenoir seems to be the target the majority of the time…but, as has been said, a defensive backfield can only be as good as the pass rush allows…and the Raiders were able to show that a mobile QB gives them fits…

        1. I do still think Hufanga is a net positive. He’s made some huge plays with his instincts. I think time will help him understand the right scenarios in which to take a risk and make a game changing play.

          I think it’s a lot better than what Tartt gave us back there- which was solid play but not as impactful. You need all types on a team, but it’s definitely nice to have a playmaker on every level now (Bosa, Warner/Greenlaw, Hufanga).

  4. If last weeks game against the Raiders is any indication, the Niners need not underestimate the lowly Cardinals QB like they did with Stidham. A team with a bad record can be just as dangerous as a winning team. The Miners have an opportunity to go verrry far and they DO NOT want to blow that opportunity like they did last year against the Rams.

  5. I believe that the Cards coaching staff may tank this weekend. A win would place them from #4 to #6. A loss could drop them all the way to #2. Houston will use the #1 pick on a QB. That means a loss this Sunday could give the Cardinals a shot at the best non QB in the entire draft. Kingsbury will likely get fired but just in case I see him tanking this weekend. That would be good for the 9ers, if it gets ugly early they can rest the 6 or more most important players. imho

  6. Does pro football season now seem too long? Sure does to me. Would like to see wildcard games being played this weekend, not Week 17.

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