coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
On 10/08/2013 07:10 PM in NFL

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers: Preview and Pick

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers: Preview and Pick

The San Francisco 49ers seem like they are back on the winning track. After starting off slow and having some big and ugly losses, the 49ers are winning football games again. The big win on Sunday night football against the Houston Texans showed just how far they have come. Now they will have to try to stay on that winning track against the Arizona Cardinals this week in the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the 49ers listed as double digit chalk. The 49ers are giving (-11.5) Points in this contest according to the opener and that line will most likely shift leading up to kickoff. The 49ers are getting over 60 percent of the early wagering action, so this line could easily see 12 points by kickoff, if not higher.

The 49ers are playing better football because of great defense. The 49ers called a designed run on a season-high 67.3% of their plays Sunday. They gained 118 of their 177 rushing yards before contact, the second straight week they have had more than 100 rushing yards before contact. Entering Week 4, they were 14th in the NFL with 211 yards before contact. The Cardinals also flashed some defense against the Panthers.

All of Cam Newton's sacks and interceptions Sunday came against at least five pass rushers. The Cardinals used such pressure 60% of the time against Newton, who had already faced at least five rushers on a league-high 44% of dropbacks entering the game. Patrick Peterson's second-quarter interception was his 12th since the start of 2011, tied with Tim Jennings for second-most in the NFL (Richard Sherman has 14). The Cardinals should be a team to watch in the future.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that the 49ers have a tremendous edge by playing at home. San Francisco is 16-4-1 straight in its last 21 games at home and 17-7-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 25 games at home. San Francisco is 6-3 straight up in its last 9 games overall while the Cardinals are just 4-13 straight up in his last 17 games. San Francisco is 5-1 straight up in its last 6 games when playing at home against Arizona and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of San Francisco's last 6 games when playing at home against Arizona.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Pick

With plenty of time to go before kickoff of this week, I will wait to announce my pick when we get closer to game day. Check back the day of the event for my pick on this great game.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/10/2013 12:08 AM

Dating back to the 2009 campaign when Rashard Mendenhall was still with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the running back hasn't topped 4.1 yards per carry in a season. Currently, he is averaging a career-worst 3.2 yards on his 69 carries. Meanwhile, Arizona Cardinals teammate Andre Ellington sports a sparkling 6.7 yards-per-carry average. However, it's a small sample size with Ellington, because he only has 18 carries this season. Is it possible that he could carve out a bigger niche?

Well, coach Bruce Arians said during Monday's presser that he didn't think that the 5-foot-9 199-pound back was capable of taking on a workhorse role. He specifically noted that he envisioned a 28-30 snap count for the diminutive Ellington, who was on the field for a season-high 30 snaps in Week 5. Ellington also had his biggest workload of the season Sunday, with seven carries for 52 yards and four catches for 31 yards. Meanwhile, Mendenhall also was on the field for exactly 30 snaps but mustered only 43 yards on 17 carries (2.5 YPC) and 7 yards on 2 catches, though he did at least score a touchdown.

Sticking with that snap count for Ellington might make sense, but it's fair to wonder whether Arians will end up increasing the number of actual touches he gives the running back as the season progresses. The rookie offers big-play abilities that we haven't seen from Mendenhall in years, especially as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

The trouble in the short term is that the Cardinals are headed into a rough stretch of games against the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. In other words, even if Ellington gets more touches in the coming weeks, it may be a while until he is able to contribute reliable stats.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/10/2013 12:09 AM

Playing the Arizona Cardinals isn’t a big deal anymore to San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

He already had the emotional reunion in 2011 when the Cardinals played in Baltimore when Boldin was a Raven. Sunday’s game won’t be the same, however.

"It’s just another game for me," Boldin said. "It’s a divisional game.

“I barely know any of the guys there so it’s not a big deal for me.”

Boldin does not have a house in Arizona anymore and has made Florida, where he grew up and went to college, his home base.

In his seven seasons with the Cardinals, Boldin had 7,520 receiving yards and caught more than 1,000 yards in a season five times. He has yet to hit that mark since leaving the Cards after the 2010 season.

Former Cardinals and Florida State University teammate Darnell Dockett said Boldin, who he affectionately calls "Q," was one of the best players he has ever been around. But playing against Boldin on Sunday will be no different for Dockett than it was two years ago in Baltimore.

“Same way you see him in the Baltimore Ravens,” Dockett said. “Same thing.

“It’s no different. We got mutual respect for each other.

“It’s a game that has to be played.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/10/2013 12:11 AM

One of the positive outcomes from the situation surrounding linebacker Aldon Smith is rookie Corey Lemonier is getting a chance to play for the San Francisco 49ers.

Lemonier has played the past two games while Smith is in rehab for substance abuse. He is splitting time with Dan Skuta, who is getting a lot of work in passing situations and has also shined on special teams. Smith could be back on the field sometime next month, but even then Lemonier likely will have a role.

The 49ers took Lemonier out of Auburn in the third round with the No. 88 overall pick. I spoke with Scouts Inc. draft expert Steve Muench to get his thoughts on Lemonier as a prospect. Muench said there were concerns about him (there always are when grading third-round talents), but Muench thinks Lemonier has real NFL pass-rush potential.

Here are Muench’s thoughts on Lemonier, who is becoming a major factor on the 49ers’ 53-man roster:

He can definitely help, especially with the pass rush. We were concerned about his effort at times and in fairness he may have been frustrated playing on a bad team in 2012 because his motor was noticeably better on his 2011 tape. We also felt that he can read keys and get off blockers quicker as a run stopper. On the other hand, his initial burst and closing speed make him a constant threat rushing off the edge. For what it’s worth, he posted the third fastest 40-yard time and 10-yard split at the 2013 combine. He also has the length, upper body strength and lateral mobility to develop a variety of pass rush moves.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/10/2013 12:12 AM

Ray McDonald will have to get used to playing with pain the rest of the season, but he didn't suffer Wednesday.

The San Francisco 49ers kept their standout defensive tackle out of practice. He is expected to play Sunday against visiting Arizona.

McDonald sustained a partially torn bicep at the top of his muscle Sunday night during the 49ers win over the Houston Texans. He is not at serious risk of further damaging the bicep, although he will have surgery after the season.

"Hard to predict that right now, how it's going to affect him the entire season," San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. He feels good about it. The doctors feel good about their evaluation and we'll trust in that."

Starting inside linebacker Patrick Willis was limited, but he practiced in pads for the first time since injuring his groin in Week 3. If Willis doesn't have a setback, he should play against the Cardinals.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick re-appeared on the injury report with a foot injury. He practiced fully Wednesday just as he did when he appeared on the report earlier in the season. Kaepernick has not shown any visible signs of being bothered by the injury.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/10/2013 12:14 AM

Maybe the third time is the charm for Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson.

He’s tried twice to play without the tip of his left middle finger, which essentially snapped off during a first-half play on Sept. 22 in New Orleans. But each time, coach Bruce Arians or a team doctor vetoed Johnson getting back on the field.

With his cast down to a splint and the stitches out, Johnson is optimistic he can play Sunday in San Francisco.

“Everything’s looking good, healing well,” Johnson said. “We got some things we’re going to try this week. Really good chance to be back this week.”

Arians said the same during his Monday news conference, and then reiterated it on his weekly segment on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday night.

The stitches were removed Sunday, all but eliminating the chance for an infection.

Johnson was notified by Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles that he wasn’t playing Sunday, and instead of a helmet and pads he donned a radio earpiece and coached his teammates from the sideline.

“They thought it was a better idea for me to just take another week for the health and safety precautions,” Johnson said. “I think it’s going to work out in the end. Sit the game now and not have to worry about it later on down the road.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/10/2013 12:14 AM

When the Arizona Cardinals' injury report came out late Wednesday, the list of limited players was long.

Only rookie linebacker Kenny Demens (hamstring) didn't practice but that was expected. Limited, however, were linebackers John Abraham (shoulder), Daryl Washington (knee), Jasper Brinkley (groin) and Kevin Minter (hamstring), defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (groin), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring), safety Rashad Johnson (finger) and defensive end Ronald Talley (wrist).

Left guard Daryn Colledge (shin) practiced in full.

A few players stood out on the report. Washington played in his first game of the season Sunday and was all over the field. As long as that knee doesn't bother him, he can continue to have a Pro Bowl-caliber season. Cardinals fans -- and players -- never like seeing Fitzgerald on the list. He was hampered by his hamstring during the Detroit game earlier this season.

On Monday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Dockett "was not close to being himself" in Sunday's 22-6 win over the Panthers. The Cardinals' training staff initially expected Dockett's groin injury, which caused him to leave the Tampa Bay game, to be a two-week injury but he returned in just a week.

Johnson returned to the practice field Wednesday for the first time since losing the tip of his left middle finger Sept. 22 in New Orleans. He practiced with a splint wrapped in black tape.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/10/2013 01:23 PM

Receiver Andre Roberts hasn’t had nearly as many pass-catching opportunities the past three games and it coincides with tight end Rob Housler’s return from a high ankle sprain.

“He was playing inside (as a slot receiver) with Robby out,” Arians said of Roberts. “He’s played more outside receiver with Robby back. That’s probably going to affect his numbers and it’s something we’re going to look at.”

Housler, meanwhile, hasn’t been the productive offensive weapon Arians had hoped. He’s caught only two passes for 36 yards and Arians predicted he could haul in 80 receptions this season.

“It’s still a work in progress,” the coach said. “He had an opportunity to get two or three balls in this game and wasn’t quite on the same page with Carson (Palmer) on where he was going to get it.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/11/2013 11:50 AM

Though strong defensive performances have helped guide San Francisco and Arizona to some success over the past two weeks, the 49ers' offense has picked up steam while the Cardinals' unit remains a work in progress under first-year coach Bruce Arians.

The 49ers look for a fifth consecutive home victory over the Cardinals on Sunday in matchup of NFC West foes each trying for a third straight win.

After yielding an average of 28.0 points over the first three games and being outscored 56-10 in consecutive losses to Seattle and Indianapolis, San Francisco (3-2) held a 69-14 scoring advantage in wins over St. Louis and Houston.

"We're the 49ers. When we're on, we can do whatever we want to do," running back Frank Gore said.

Despite missing defensive starters Aldon Smith (substance abuse rehab), Patrick Willis (groin) and Nnamdi Asomugha (knee) for the past two games, the 49ers have allowed one touchdown, 501 total yards and forced six turnovers after recording three in the previous three weeks.

San Francisco ranks second in the NFL with 188.8 passing yards allowed per game and recorded three interceptions during last Sunday's 34-3 rout of Houston. Tramaine Brock twice intercepted Matt Schaub, the first of which he returned 18 yards for a TD three plays into the game.

"We've been kind of down on getting turnovers and sometimes things just kind of start breaking right for you," coach Jim Harbaugh told the 49ers' official website.

Though Smith, who was charged Wednesday with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon stemming from a party at his home in June 2012, will not play, it's uncertain if Willis or Asomugha will return. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald does expect to play despite tearing a muscle at the top of his right biceps against the Texans.

Gore has led a 49ers ground game that's rushed for 396 yards over the last two games after totaling 305 in the first three. He ran for 153 yards and a TD in a 35-11 win at St. Louis on Sept. 26, then gained 81 with a score against the Texans.

Gore has rushed for 316 yards and averaged 6.6 per carry in the last three games after gaining 60 and averaging 2.0 over the first two.

"Once I get going, it's hard to stop me," said Gore, who has averaged only 67.0 yards and scored two TDs in his last five games against Arizona.

Teammate Colin Kaepernick was intercepted four times and didn't throw a TD against the Seahawks and Colts but has passed for three touchdowns and no picks over the past two weeks. He threw for 276 yards with two TDs and no interceptions during a 27-13 home victory over the Cardinals last season.

A winner in seven of eight overall against Arizona (3-2), San Francisco has outscored the Cardinals 112-36 during its four-game home winning streak in the series.

Arizona has not allowed a touchdown in seven straight quarters after giving up 16 points against Tampa Bay and Carolina to win consecutive games for the first time since last season's 4-0 start.

The Cardinals rank third in the NFL with 79.0 rushing yards allowed per game and give up an average of 19.0 points to rank 10th.

During last Sunday's 22-6 win over Carolina, the Cardinals sacked Cam Newton a career-worst seven times and picked off three of his passes. Only three players in Cardinals history had two sacks and an interception in a single game prior to last Sunday, when linebackers Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby both did it.

"I love it," Arians said. "We want to be dominant on defense. We'll scratch some points out, but we always want to be a dominating defensive football team."

Though Arians has an offensive coaching background, it appears quarterback Carson Palmer and that unit are still growing accustomed to his system.

Arizona ranks 28th in scoring (18.2 points per game), 23rd in rushing (81.0 yards per game) and 22nd in passing (225.2). Palmer is completing 58.9 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and nine interceptions, and Larry Fitzgerald has a team-leading 24 receptions with three TDs but no more than 80 yards receiving in a game.

The Cardinals did rush for a season-best 90 yards last Sunday, including a team-high 52 on seven attempts from rookie Andre Ellington.

"The win keeps you sane a little bit," Fitzgerald told the Cardinals' official website. "We've just got to do better (offensively). It's great to be 3-2, but obviously, going to San Francisco, (then) having Seattle come here and then Atlanta the next three games, we have to put some points up."

Fitzgerald has been held to five receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown in two games at San Francisco following an 11-catch, 125-yard, one-TD performance during a 38-7 loss there Jan. 2, 2011.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
10/11/2013 11:59 AM

Though strong defensive performances have helped guide San Francisco and Arizona to some success over the past two weeks, the 49ers' offense has picked up steam while the Cardinals' unit remains a work in progress under first-year coach Bruce Arians.

The 49ers look for a fifth consecutive home victory over the Cardinals on Sunday in matchup of NFC West foes each trying for a third straight win.

After yielding an average of 28.0 points over the first three games and being outscored 56-10 in consecutive losses to Seattle and Indianapolis, San Francisco (3-2) held a 69-14 scoring advantage in wins over St. Louis and Houston.

"We're the 49ers. When we're on, we can do whatever we want to do," running back Frank Gore said.

Despite missing defensive starters Aldon Smith (substance abuse rehab), Patrick Willis (groin) and Nnamdi Asomugha (knee) for the past two games, the 49ers have allowed one touchdown, 501 total yards and forced six turnovers after recording three in the previous three weeks.

San Francisco ranks second in the NFL with 188.8 passing yards allowed per game and recorded three interceptions during last Sunday's 34-3 rout of Houston. Tramaine Brock twice intercepted Matt Schaub, the first of which he returned 18 yards for a TD three plays into the game.

"We've been kind of down on getting turnovers and sometimes things just kind of start breaking right for you," coach Jim Harbaugh told the 49ers' official website.

Though Smith, who was charged Wednesday with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon stemming from a party at his home in June 2012, will not play, it's uncertain if Willis or Asomugha will return. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald does expect to play despite tearing a muscle at the top of his right biceps against the Texans.

Gore has led a 49ers ground game that's rushed for 396 yards over the last two games after totaling 305 in the first three. He ran for 153 yards and a TD in a 35-11 win at St. Louis on Sept. 26, then gained 81 with a score against the Texans.

Gore has rushed for 316 yards and averaged 6.6 per carry in the last three games after gaining 60 and averaging 2.0 over the first two.

"Once I get going, it's hard to stop me," said Gore, who has averaged only 67.0 yards and scored two TDs in his last five games against Arizona.

Teammate Colin Kaepernick was intercepted four times and didn't throw a TD against the Seahawks and Colts but has passed for three touchdowns and no picks over the past two weeks. He threw for 276 yards with two TDs and no interceptions during a 27-13 home victory over the Cardinals last season.

A winner in seven of eight overall against Arizona (3-2), San Francisco has outscored the Cardinals 112-36 during its four-game home winning streak in the series.

Arizona has not allowed a touchdown in seven straight quarters after giving up 16 points against Tampa Bay and Carolina to win consecutive games for the first time since last season's 4-0 start.

The Cardinals rank third in the NFL with 79.0 rushing yards allowed per game and give up an average of 19.0 points to rank 10th.

During last Sunday's 22-6 win over Carolina, the Cardinals sacked Cam Newton a career-worst seven times and picked off three of his passes. Only three players in Cardinals history had two sacks and an interception in a single game prior to last Sunday, when linebackers Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby both did it.

"I love it," Arians said. "We want to be dominant on defense. We'll scratch some points out, but we always want to be a dominating defensive football team."

Though Arians has an offensive coaching background, it appears quarterback Carson Palmer and that unit are still growing accustomed to his system.

Arizona ranks 28th in scoring (18.2 points per game), 23rd in rushing (81.0 yards per game) and 22nd in passing (225.2). Palmer is completing 58.9 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and nine interceptions, and Larry Fitzgerald has a team-leading 24 receptions with three TDs but no more than 80 yards receiving in a game.

The Cardinals did rush for a season-best 90 yards last Sunday, including a team-high 52 on seven attempts from rookie Andre Ellington.

"The win keeps you sane a little bit," Fitzgerald told the Cardinals' official website. "We've just got to do better (offensively). It's great to be 3-2, but obviously, going to San Francisco, (then) having Seattle come here and then Atlanta the next three games, we have to put some points up."

Fitzgerald has been held to five receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown in two games at San Francisco following an 11-catch, 125-yard, one-TD performance during a 38-7 loss there Jan. 2, 2011.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1