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2017 Regular Season
Preview: Niners @ Cards

Setting the Stage:
Niners lost a squeaker to the Rams and are 0 & 3. Cards ran out of steam vs. Dallas and come in 1 & 2. Although the Rams enjoy exclusive leadership of the NFC West division, the feeling you get is that the division is up for grabs this season.

Opponent's Last Game
Niners were edged by the Rams 41 -39. Rams built an early lead and wouldn't let the Niners catch up - until later in the game. Rams were ahead by 2 TD's coming into the 4th quarter, but the Niners inched to a point where the Rams were only ahead by a failed Niner 2-pt attempt with 2:13 left. Niners had a chance to win it all when they recovered an on-side kick with only a field goal needed to win it. But the Rams held them in check, and the Niners ended up on the losing end.

First Quarter
Niners received. TB on KO. Hoyer threw a pick on the very first play. And on the very next play, Gurley rambled in from the 3. Rams 7 - Niners 0.

KO returned to the Niner 19. Hoyer engineered a 14-play TD drive capped by a 9-yd Hoyer scramble for a TD. Rams 7 - Niners 7.

TB on KO. Goff led Rams on an 8-play TD drive capped by a 7-yd Goff-to-Gurley pass. Rams 14 - Niners 7.

KO returned to the Niner 19. On the 5th play of the Niner possession, Mostert fumbled. Rams recovered. Rams ball on their own 32. Rams moved to their 30 in five plays.

First Quarter Score: Denver 7 - Dallas 0

Second Quarter
On the first play of the quarter, Zeurlein was good from 48. Rams 17 - Niners 7.

TB on KO. SF moved to Ram 43 before punting. Rams muffed punt. SF recovered it at the Ram 12. Niners pushed back to their own 18. FG was good from 36. Rams 17 - Niners 10.

KO returned to the Ram 24 Rams went 3 & out. Punt returned to SF 23.A Hoyer to Juszcyk 34-yd connection moved Sf to Ram 43. They managed to get to the Ram 30 where Gould kicked a 48-yarder. Rams 17 - Niners 13.

TB on KO. 3:46 till halftime. Goff led Rams on a 9-play TD drive ending in a 2-yard Gurley romp around left end. Rams 24 - Niners 13.

KO returned to SF 40. 0:14 left. Three play. Nada. Half over.

1st Half Score: Rams 24 - Niners 13

Third Quarter
(They say the opening second-half possession can set the tone for the rest of the game. Or not). LA received and returned KO to the 25. They kept the ball for 10 plays, and wound up on the SF 1-yd line , but settled for a 19 yd Zuerlein FG. (Key Play: 47-yd completion - Goff to S Watkins). Rams 27 - Niners 13.

(TB on the KO) - On the first play of the SF possession, an officials' reversal of an incompleted pass with a roughing the passer flag tacked on moved the ball 34 yds to the Ram 41. The Niners moved to the Niner one-yd line in 9 plays, issuing large doses of Hyde before the Niner RB punched it in over the middle for a 1-yd TD. . (Key Plays: Hyde off LT for +11. Hoyer to Robinson for +17).Rams 27 - Niners 20.

(TB on the KO) - Goff marched the Rams to the Niner one-yd line, before hitting Watkins for a one-yd TD. (Key Plays: Goff to Watkins for +15. Goff to R Woods for +25). Rams 34 - Niners 20.

(TB on the KO) - On the first play from scrimmage, Hoyer hit Goodwin - deep middle - for 50-yds to end the quarter.

Third Quarter Score: Rams 34 - Niners 20

Fourth Quarter
Niner ball on the Ram 25. Three plays later, a short pa from Hoyer to T Taylor put the Niners on the LA one-yd line, whereHoyer hit Gilliam - short right - for a TD. (XP was no good). Ram 34 - Niners 26.

(TB on the KO) - On the first play from scrimmage, Gurley rambled around left end for +29 yards. Three plays later, Goff and Hurley hooked up on a short pass (right) and run for +27 yds. Three plays after that, Goff hit Watkins up the middle for a 13-yd TD. Rams 41 - Niners 26.

8:43 left to play (with time becoming an issue): KO returned to the Niner 23. After an initial defensive PI flag, the two teams exchanged 3 & outs. Punt returned to Niner 36. Hoyer then hit Garcon for +59 yards to set up a 3-yd TD pass to T Taylor. (Niners only behind by 8 pts). Rams 41 - SF 33.

KO returned 28 yds but Cooper fumbled/recovered by Niners at the Ram 29 with 5:01 to go. It took 8 plays for Hoyer to set up a one-yd Hyde TD run. But the attempt to tie the game with a 2-pointer didn't work out. Rams 41 - Niners 39.

2:13 left. Onside kick by Niners recovered by Niners at midfield. An offensive PI call on T Taylor moved the Niners back to their forty and the final 2 Niner plays consisted of an incomplete pass deep for Garcon and a minus-8 yd sack.

Rams took over on the SF 31 with 1:44 left. It was Gurley for +1, Gurley for +1 amd tjhen Gurley around left end for +20 yds to the Niner 11. Goff took a final knee.

Final Score: Rams 41 - Niners 39

Key Game Stats

Hoyer was 23 of 37 -332 yds, 2 TD's and 1 interception. (Goff went 22 of 28 for 292 yards, 3 TD's and no interceptions)

Hyderan ran for 84 yds on 25 carries and 2 TD's (They couldn't contain Gurley - who gained 113 yds on 28 carries). l

Garcon was the featured Niner receiver with 7 catches for 142 yds.

Defensively, Ward, Tartt and K Williams led the Niners in tackles with 7 apiece, followed by Armstrong and R Robinson with 6 apiece.

Lawrence was credited with 2 sacks and a forced fumble.

No NIner sacks. (Hoyer was sacked 3 times)

Niners converted 9 of 18 3rd downs (50%) while LA was 8 of 12 (66%)

SF gained 5.7 yds per rushing play (Ram runners racked up 7.0 ypc).

Niner Net Punting average was 41.5

Niners penalized 10 times (Rams were penalized 7 times)

SF was 4 for 4 (100%) in the Red Zone (LA was 3 for 4 (75%)

Turnover Ratio: Even. SF lost one fumble and a pick. LA lost 2 fumbles.

Team Stats to Date

Offensive Yards - Niners 886 / Opponents 1,017/ Cards 1,029

Passing Yards - Niners 624/ Opponents 661/ Cards 925

Rushing Yards - Niners 323/ Opponents 373/Cards 177

Sacks - Niners 3/ Opponents 10 / Cards 6

Field Goals - Niners 6/6 / Opponents 7/7/ Cards 5/8

Time of Possession - Niners 26:19/ Opponents 33:41/ Cards 30:35

Turnover Ratio - Niners minus-1/ Cards minus-3

Key Player Stats

Passing: - SF: Hoyer: 62 of 99 att for 624 yds (6.3 per att), 3 Ints, 2 TD's. 74.6 QBR. Palmer 75 of 132 for 925 yds (7.0 yds/att), 4 TD's 4 Ints. 76.1 Rating

Rushing: SF: - Hyde: 49 carries for 253 yds. (5.2 yds /att), 2 TD's. AZ - C Johnson: 61 yds on 23 carries (2.7/att) . 0 TD's. K Williams: 35 yds on 15 carries (2.3 yd/att), 1 TD.

Receiving: SF - Garcon: 16 Rec for 249 yds (15.6 yds per catch) 0 TD's. Hyde: 12 Rec for 61 yds (5.1 yds/catch.). 0 TD's. Arizona: Fitz: 22 catches for 244 yds (11.1ypr), 1 TD. Nelson: 10 catches for 163 yds (16.3 ypc). 2 TD's. Ellington: 10 catches fpr 106 yds (10.6 ypc).

Field Goals -SF: Gould is 6 for 6. Dawson is 5 for 8.

Punting - SF: Pinion's' gross yardage is 42.5 (Compared to 48.1 for opponents). Cards: Lee is 45.8 (compared to 42.3 for opponents).

Punt Returns -SF : Taylor had 5 returns for 11.6 ypr (Compared to 7 returns for 1 ypr by opponents). Cards: K Williams returned 3 punts (3.3 ypr). (Opponents returned 11punts (10.4 ypr)

Kickoff Returns - SF: Bolden: 5 returns for (21.4/ypr (compared to 22.3 ypr for opponents). Cards: K Williams: 6 returns for (20.2 ypr (compared to 20.9 for opponents)

Tackles - SF: Bowman (20), Armstrong (20), Tartt (19), Buckner (15) Robinson (15) Cards: Branch (30), Dansby (21), Reddick (16), C Jones (13),Bethel (12)

Sacks - SF: 3 (vs. opponents' 10) - Armstead, Carradine and Lynch (1 apiece). Cards: 6 (vs. opponents' 11) - C Jones (4), Bynes (1), Mauro (1)

Interceptions - SF: 1 Picks (vs. Opponents' 3): Tartt has SF's only pick. AZ: 2 picks (vs. Opponents' 4 - Mathieu (1), Bethel (1)

Injury Status

Bucannon Returns
Jo Brown (Quad) Limited
Boone (Chest) Out
Humphries (Knee) Questionable
Nelson (Hammy) Questionable
Iupati (Tricept) To IR
Nkemdiche (Calf) Out

Coyle (Conc) Questionable
Foster (Ankle) Out
Hyde *Hip) Questionable
Juszczyk (Conc) Questionable
Reid (Knee) Out
Tartt (Conc) Questionable
Taumoepenu (Ankle) Questionable


Niner Offense

WR.....15 Garcon......81 T Taylor.....10 Bourne
LT.......74 Staley
LG    ..75 Tomlinson.....68 Beadles 
OC    .67 Kilgore
RG.....63 Fusco.....62 Magnuson
RT.....77 T Brown.....76 Gilliam
TE......85 Kittle.....88 Celek.....82 Paulson
WR  ..11 Goodwin.....19 A Robinson....17 V Bolden Jr                         
RB ....28 Hyde.....22 Breida.....31 Mostert
FB......44 Juszczyk

QB.....02 Hoyer.....03 Beathard

Cardinal Defense

LDE      97 Mauro..........72 Pierre.............94 X Williams
DT        98 Peters (A).....95 Gunter                
DT        92 Rucker.........90 Nkemdiche
SLB     55 C Jones........96 K Martin             
ILB       20 Bucannon....43 Reddick    
ILB       56 Dansby........57 Bynes       
WLB    44 Golden
LCB     21 Peterson.....25 T Williams              
RCB    28 Bethel.........,26 B Williams               
SS       41 Bethea.........27 Branch        
FS       32 Mathieu ......36 Baker

Matchup: Niner Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Niner passing game is essentially Hoyer to Garcon with Hyde as a pretty good outlet guy. Niner pass blockers have given up 3 sacks. Not much threat (to date) from Niner TE's.

Cardinal pass rushers (led by Chandler Jones) has sacked opposing QBs 6 times. Our other edge rusher (Marcus Golden) has gotten into the habit of overreaching and allowing QBs to escape outside his outside contain. Card secondary is at its best when not overtaxed by multiple receivers.

Key Matchups: Hoyer vs. C Jones.. Hyde vs. Reddick. Garcon vs. Peterson. Cardinal D-Line vs Niner O-Line.

Matchup: Niner Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Hyde has gained 253 yards on 49 attempts (Contrast that with CJ2K's 61 ground yards). Expect the Niners to copy the Dallas playbook and use its ground game to play "keep away" vs. the Cardinal passing offense.

Key Matchup: Hyde vs. Dansby and Reddick. SF OL vs. Cardinal DL.

Cardinal Offense

WR1    11 Fitzgerald......14 Nelson.....16 C Williams
LT        74 Humphries.....73 Wetzel               
LG       62 Munyer..........78 Painter                    
C         53 Shipley...........62 Munyer              
RG       70 Boehm..    
RT........68 Veldheer........69 Holden
TE       .87 Niklas............80 Momah
WR2   .13 Ja Brown......12 Jo Brown.....10 Golden     
QB       03 Palmer ........05 Stanton.....07 Gabbert
RB       33 K Williams.....38 Ellington.....23 C Johnson.....35 Penny.....37 Foster
TE        84 Gresham ......

Niner Defense

LDE......91 Armstead.....58 Dumerville.....59 Lynch
LDT......90 Mitchell.....93 DJ Jones
RDT.....99 Buckner.....96 Cooper
RDE.....94 S Thomas
SAM.....57 Harold.....97 D Watson.....55 Taumoepenu
MIKE....53 Bowman.....50 Coyle.....47 E Lee
WILL....56 Foster.....54 R R Armstrong....46 Nzeocha.
LCB.....33 R Robinson.....30 A Jackson
RCB.....36 D Johnson.....23 Witherspoon
NB........24 K Williams
FS........25 Ward.....26 Jerome.....38 Colbert
SS....... 35 Reid.....29 Tarti

Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Niner Pass Defense
Carson Palmer is lethal when given the time to set his feet and step into his throws. (Good lluck with that). The beaten-up Cardinal O-line and thin TE group have kept Palmer "living on the edge of danger." Fans are crossing their fingers hoping that Humphries and Iupati will return to action before the season is lost.

Fortunately, Niner pass rushers are only credited with 3 sacks (though their LB crew of Bowman, Foster and Watson & edge guys like Dumerville and Armstead do loom a bit scary).

We like the matchups between their DB's and our wideouts, but would feel a lot better if a healthy Smokey Brown was part of our receiving corps.

Key Matchups: Palmer vs. Niner edge guys. Shipley, Boehm and Boone vs. Armstead, Buckner and Dumerville. Card WRs vs Niner secondary. Look for BA to use Ellington in a multiplicity of ways.

Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Niner Run Defense
Cardinals lost bell cow David Johnson so it's once again RB by Committee. Chris Johnson has had a few flashes of the old CJ2K, but has been up and down from game to game. BA may decide to capitalize on the diversity of Ellington's or K William's talents. Niners have a talented trio of rookies on their DL in Armsetead, Buckner and Thomas. At LB, Foster (ankle) is out

Key Matchups: CJ2K vs Niner LB's. Cardinal OL vs. Niner DL..

Special Teams


K         09 Gould                   
P         05 Pinion                    
H         05 Pinion
LS      .86 Nelson               
KR      31 Mostert        
PR      81 T Taylor


K          04 Dawson                      
P          02 Lee                                   
H          02 Lee                       
LS        46 Brewer                                 
KR       33 K Williams       
PR       33 K Williams

Matchup: Niner Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Niners - Gould is gold. ((Unfortunately, Dawson so far isn't). Lee and Pinion are pretty even as punters. Dunno much about Mostert or Taylor as returners. K Williams, so far, hasn't struck much fear.... Cardinal coverage teams seem to be living pretty close to the edge, though they looked a little bit more solid vs. Dallas.

Key matchups: None of note.

Niners - HC Kyle Shanahan. OC Scott Linehan. DC Robert Saleh. ST Richard Hightower. (No OC is listed - we think Shanahan must be his own OC). Maybe we're missing something, but the Yorks and John Lynch appear to have blown up what had been an NFL team loaded with talent and is in some form of rebuilding mode. This has to be making things hard on Shanahan.

Cards - This is Coach Arians' toughest year - mainly because last season was his worst year as a Cardinal HC and there's always the lingering question: "Is this a trend?" (Ask anyone who watched the Cards lose to Dallas Monday night and their answer will logically be: "Yeah, it's a trend."). We're not sure - ot might just be that parity has landed with a "thud" on the NFL roof. Challenge for BA will be to shrug off the losses to Detroit and Dallas and keep his team playing with intensity, smarts and poise. The danger for BA is for the team to pack it in early and let this season swallow the Cards whole.

How to Beat Niners
We have more talented players than they do, so "stretch 'em out" and exploit mismatches.

Conversely, if we're the Niners, we'd copy Dallas and play a conservative, mistake-free field position football game, keep hanging around and hoping to steal it late in the fourth quarter.

Last Word:
This may be a surprisingly even game, with a few breaks determining the outcome. Some teams are expert at winning these sorts of games. Other teams fold under the pressure. This game could turn out to be one more in a long line of "teaching events." Key will be to hang in there, play hard, stay poised and be opportunistic.

Sic 'em!


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