How the 49ers can defeat the Cardinals; Five burning questions for Monday Night Football

The San Francisco 49ers (5-4) will move to the top of the NFC West with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals (4-6) on Monday night in Mexico City.

San Francisco is 4-1 against Arizona on Monday Night Football, including a 24-3 victory in the two team’s last Monday night contest back in 2012.

The 49ers 51 wins on Monday Night Football are tied for the most in NFL history with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Here are my five things to watch for on Monday night.

1.) Where is the left foot of Trent Williams?

Whether Trent Williams stance is tipping plays has been the hottest 49ers topic for the last week.

If Williams is in a balanced stance the play is likely to be either a run or play action with the run fake going away from him.

If Williams is in a stance with his left foot further back the play is likely to be either a pass or play action with the run fake coming towards him.

Despite the foot placement, the 49ers offense needs a strong game from the offensive line.

San Francisco comes into Monday night averaging 4.4 yards per carry, 19th best in the NFL. They will be facing an Arizona defense which has been solid against the run, allowing the same yards per carry and the ninth fewest rushing yards in the league.

2.) Can Jimmy Garoppolo go three games without throwing an interception?

Jimmy Garoppolo has never gone three straight games without throwing an interception in his career.

Garoppolo has done a good job of protecting the football so far this season. The veteran has thrown an interception on only 1.7% of his pass attempts, by far the best of his career.

On Monday night, Garoppolo will face an Arizona defense which has recorded seven interceptions by seven different Cardinals defenders.

Garoppolo’s top target is likely to be Brandon Aiyuk.

Aiyuk has been on fire in recent weeks, registering six-or-more receptions and 80 plus receiving yards in four consecutive games. If he is able to pull it off against Arizona, he will join Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice as 49ers receivers to put those numbers together in five straight games.

3.) Will the 49ers face Kyler Murray or Colt McCoy?

Cardinals starting quarterback Kyler Murray missed last Sunday’s contest against the Los Angeles Rams due to a hamstring injury. Murray is listed as questionable for Monday night.

If Murray is unable to go, Arizona will once again turn to backup Colt McCoy.

Niners fans still haven’t forgotten what McCoy’s performance when he faced San Francisco last year. McCoy completed 22 of 26 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown while leading Arizona to a 31-17 win at Levi’s Stadium.

McCoy led Arizona to a 27-17 victory a week ago. He has not won back-to-back starts in the same season since beating Indianapolis and Miami in 2011 as the starter for Cleveland.

Whoever is at quarterback will have to face a 49er defense that has allowed only 23 total points in their first three division games.

4.) Can the 49ers secondary contain DeAndre Hopkins?

To say the Arizona passing attack revolves around DeAndre Hopkins would be an understatement.

Despite missing the first six games of the season while serving a PED suspension, Hopkins is only 89 yards shy of the team lead.

Hopkins has averaged nine receptions and 99 yards per game since returning in week seven.  

The return of Hopkins has kickstarted the Cardinals offense. Over the last for weeks Arizona has averaged 29 points per game, an increase of ten points over their average for the first six games.

Nick Bosa will look to help the 49ers defense with keeping Arizona’s passing game under control. His pressure often creates havoc for opposing quarterbacks.

Bosa leads the NFC in sacks with 9.5 despite missing the Atlanta game due to injury. In addition to the sacks, Bosa’s 24 quarterback hits are an NFL high and is 11 tackles for loss is tied for third most. The 49ers defensive stalwart is the only player in the league to rank in the top three in all three categories.

5.) Which team holds on to the ball?

The 49ers have not done a good job of holding on to the football against Arizona. San Francisco has at least one turnover in eight of the ten games between the two teams since Kyle Shanahan took over.

For San Francisco, winning the turnover battle is key.

Since the start of 2021, the Niners are 16-3 when they turn the ball over less than or the same as their opponent. When San Francisco has more turnovers than their opponent they are 1-9.

Arizona comes into Monday night with a plus-five turnover differential. They have turned the ball over more than their opponent only twice this season. That is not good news for San Francisco.

Prediction:

49ers 27 Cardinals 19

San Francisco opponents have scored 20 points or more only once when Nick Bosa has been in the lineup this season. That trend will continue Monday night.

This article has 18 Comments

  1. Jack,
    I believe that you just jinks Jimmy G’ record of going 3 games without an Int, lol.
    But here’s a rhetorical question. Can the 49ers survive an Int or two from JG and still win?
    Imo, if the 49ers have success running the ball and if Jimmy
    can throw for two TDs, I’m convinced that we can win because our defense got stronger with Shiaar back on the field.

    There’s been a slight slow down by C. Ward and Hufanga the last couple of games. Time to get them back to their early season strong play,
    Viva Los 49ers!

    1. AES – The 49ers have shown the ability to overcome interceptions from Garoppolo. What’s concerning about an interception in this game is the Cardinals are +5 in turnover margin this season. If the 49ers turn the ball over more than Arizona tonight history says they lose.

      1. I hear you Jack.
        The 49ers are yet to play a mistake free game and tonight could be a good place to start. The 49ers have left many points off the scoreboard by bone-head penalties, dropped passes etc.

        Jack, I’m sure that you have a much better scope on this than I do. So I’ll ask you this question. Is Shanahan giving opposing defenses a leg up by seemingly calling a run to Deebo when he lines up in the backfield?
        I may have missed it, but I don’t remember Shanahan calling a play fake on this package.

  2. “But here’s a rhetorical question. Can the 49ers survive an Int or two from JG and still win?”

    AES, don’t forget Montana pitched 3 ints in The Catch game (and 3 team fumbles), it was the defense that saved the game (sound familiar?) – Eric Wright bringing down Drew Pearson as he was about to score a 75 yard TD following The Catch. So survive an int or two? No problemo, es un juego de niños!

    1. Rib,
      Montana was a special talent. He could throw a pick or two and in this case three, and I always had a strong sense that he could still win.

      The thing I like about Jimmy is that he doesn’t get distracted after he makes a mistake. This is a part of his game that rarely receives much mention, but it’s a good characteristic for a QB.

      I’d like to see the defense have one of its best games tonight. Which would be a big boost especially if JG has an off game now that Jack jinksed him, lol.
      49ers Por Siempre!

  3. OFF TOPIC, BUT RELEVANT: Justin Fields carted off after end of loss to Falcons.

    *NOTE TO KYLE SHANAHAN:
    * If it was not accepted as fact before, this should again reinforce the fact that running QB’s risk getting injured when they become a running back and when they fail to slide before contact with a defensive player.

    1. Geep,

      Fields, Hurts, Allen, Jackson, even Daniel Jones, all those QBs are playing on borrowed time IMO. How many seasons, or careers will be cut short before this trend plays out?

    2. Lance has shown he is more a mobile QB than a running QB. He isn’t the runner he was billed as, which is good. Take advantage of his mobility. Don’t run him like Earl Campbell.

  4. Jack
    “4.) Can the 49ers secondary contain DeAndre Hopkins?”
    * While I agree, the 9ers need to contain DeAndre Hopkins! Equally important, is the ability of the 9ers
    D to control the Cardinals RB James Conner.

    * My 2 cents worth: I expect Kittle to exploit Zaven Collins and Baker, who have the worst defense against TE’s, giving up over 70 yards per game.
    * Deebo leads the receivers in dropped passes and has been a no show so far this season! I look for him to make a statement against Arizona.

  5. Colt McCoy came alive against the Niners and we played badly against him. This is a must-win game against a decent, even if an underperforming team. We likely lose to Miami so if we lose this one look for an 8-8 season or so. Not good and a real disappointment.

  6. Given no productivity from our two best interior DL, I might have pursued Suh more aggressively. Our DL looks vulnerable given the injuries. Bad decision.

    1. allie,
      I agree. I was also pulling for the 49ers to sign Suh.
      Mike Florio (who’s a hack, imo) stated that Suh was deciding between the Eagles and 49ers and went with the Eagles.

      I haven’t heard anything from the 49ers camp regarding Suh, but this has never stopped Florio before since he falsely reported that the 49ers were going to draft Justin Fields.

      1. I don’t know Florio but I saw something on the web about Suh from Maiocco I think. The Eagles got him for more money and Suh looked good at his first game. Tough, inside run stopper.

        1. allie / AES
          * Suh will earn a base salary of $750,000 with the chance to earn $2.5 million in bonuses and incentives.
          * Suh said that he was attracted to the 49ers because of the presence of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.
          * Suh’s agent said it was between the Eagles and 49ers, but wasn’t about money. Suh chose to play for the Eagles…..Said he wanted to win another SB.

  7. Saleh has a mess with Zach the Bust Wilson. He is immature, reckless, spoiled, and will likely need to be traded out of NYC. Give Kyle credit for drafting Trey. Just on a maturity and character level, Trey is far, far superior to Zach.

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