Setting the Stage:
Update - P Garcon and J Staley are out. Road game in SF (4:05 pm EDT Fox) - Niners are one of two winless teams at the mid-season mark. Weak at QB, they just made a trade with the Pats for their backup QB (& Cardinal killer) Jimmy Garappolo. Cards are 3 & 4; coming off a Bye week where they licked their wounds in the wake of a shellacking by the Rams. Cards are hanging by their fingernails trying to get back to .500 and not wanting to lose to a winless division rival. Garappolo will probably take the reins from rookie backup QB CJ Beathard; but the question of the hour is: "when?" Will they immediately call Garappolo to action (behind a shaky OL) and risk injury? Or will they phase him in over a couple of games. What they do will have a huge impact on how the Cardinals game-plan and how they'll make out.
Opponent's Last Game
On a windy, rain-soaked Sunday, the Niners were run over by Philly 33 - 10. They fell behind 17 - 0 by halftime. 27 - 10 at the end of the 3Q and never could catch up.
Niners received. TB on KO. Beathard at QB. A 24-yd completion to Celek helped get SF near midfield but they were forced to punt. TD on punt. A 17-yd pass from Wentz to Agoholor got Philly to midfield, but they had to pass. TB on punt. SF went 3 & out. Punt fair caught at Philly 26. 11 play drive stalled on the SF 22. Elliott's 40-yd FG was good. Eagles 3 - Niners 0.
TB on KO. SF went 3 & out again. Punt downed at Philly 10. A sack by Mitchell bottled up Eagle. 1Q ended a play later.
First Quarter Score: Eagles 3 - Niners 0.
On the first play of the quarter, punt returned to Phiiiy 44. Niners went 3 & out a third time Punt downed at Phiily 2. Eagles held to 3 & out. Punt (net offensive penalty) downed at Niner 38. On third play of SF possession, Beathard's pass for Robinson was intercepted by McLeod. (Robinson injured). Philly ball at their own 46. Douzable sacked Wentz for minus-6 on first play to set up 3 & out. Punt fair caught at the SF 13. A minus-8 yd sack of Beathard set up a punt that was downed at the Eagle 44. 9 plays later, Wentz hit Ertz in the end zone for a one-yd TD. (Key play of drive: Wentz to Hollins for +28 yds). XP no good. Eagles 9 - Niners 0.
TB on KO. On the 1st play of the SF series, Beathard was sacked for minus-6. Two plays later, Beathard's pass for Garcon was intercepted and returned 37 yds for an Eagle TD. (Staley injured). Eagles must have converted a 2-pt try. Eagles 17 - Niners 0.
1st Half Score: Eagles 17 - Niners 0.
TB on KO. Philly held to 3 & out. Punt (net off holding penalty) gave SF ball at its own 15. The two teams exchanged 3 & outs. SF held to another 3 & out (I think it was their 5th). They punted from their 3. Punt downed at the Eagle 49. Philly made it to the SF 32 where Elliott was good from 51-yds. Eagles 20 - Niners 0.
(TB on the KO) - SF went 3 & out again. Eagles returned the punt to their own 26. Three plays later, Wentz deep pass was intercepted by Witherspoon and returned to the Philly 21. Two plays later, Beathard hit Breida (short middle) for a 21-yd TD (Philly back in it). Eagles 20 - Niners 7.
(TB on the KO) - On the 3rd play fron scrimmage, Wentz hit Jeffrey deep right for a 53-yd TD. Eagles 27 - Niners 7.
(TB on the KO). Niners reached the Philly 19 at the end of the 3rd Q. On the first play from scrimmage, Hoyer hit Goodwin - deep middle - for 50-yds to end the quarter.
Third Quarter Score: Eagles 27 - Niners 7.
Niner drive ended at the Philly 9, where Gould's 27-yd attempt was blocked. Eagle ball on their own 38. Completions of +14 and +11 yds along with a NIner roughness penalty set up a 12-yd TD run by Blount. XP was no good.Eagles 33 - Niners 7.
10:22 left. (TB on the KO) - Niners ate up 11 plays and 5:02 of clock before settling for a 50-yd Gould FG. Eagles 33 - Niners 10.
5:20 left. (TB on the KO) Philly ran Clement 7 straight times before Foles took 2 knees to end it.
Final Score: Eagles 33 - Niners 10.
Key SF Game Stats
Team Stats to Date
Beathard was 17 of 36 -167 yds, 1 TD and 2 interceptios. (Wentz went 18 of 32 for 211 yards, 2 TD's and 1 interception)
Hyde ran ran for 25 yds on 12 carries (Blount and Clement combined for 102 yds on 26 carries. Blount had 1 TD.)
2 RB's (Hyde and Breida) led in rceptions with 4 apiece. (T Taylor caught 3).
Defensively, Douzable had 2 sacks (MItchell had one). Tartt and Coyle led in tackles with 7. Douzable and Buckner followed with 5 apiece. Armstrong had 4.
Lawrence was credited with 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
3 NIner sacks . (Beathard was sacked 4 times)
Niners converted 3of 15 3rd downs (20%) while Philly was 4 of 14 (28%)
SF gained 3.9 yds per rushing play (They gave up 3.6 ypc).
Niner Net Punting average was 41.3
Niners penalized 6 times (Eagles were penalized 4 times)
SF was 0 for 1 (0%) in the Red Zone (Philly was 2 for 2 (100%)
Turnover Ratio: SF: Minus-1. Neither team lost a fumble and a pick. Beathard threw 2 picks . Wentz threw 1
Offensive Yards - Niners 2,456 / Opponents 3,056/ Cards 2,332
Passing Yards - Niners 1,892/ Opponents 2,109/ Cards 2,044
Rushing Yards - Niners 766/ Opponents 1,054/Cards 444
Sacks - Niners 17/ Opponents 27 / Cards 13
Field Goals - Niners 17/19 / Opponents 19/19/ Cards 10/15
Time of Possession - Niners 27:35/ Opponents 34:39/ Cards 29:22
Turnover Ratio - Niners minus-3/ Cards minus-4
Key Player Stats
Passing: - SF: Beathard: 58 of 110 att for 647 yds 52.7% (5.9 per att), 3 Ints, 2 TD's. 65.2 QBR.
Rushing: SF: - Hyde: 112 carries for 453 yds. (4.0 yds /att), 4 TD's. Breida 42 carries for 163 yds, (3.9 yds/att) , 0 TD's.
Receiving: SF - Garcon: 40 Rec for 500 yds (12.5 yds per catch) 0 TD's. Hyde: 31 Rec for 184 yds (5.9 yds/catch.). 0 TD's. Kittle: 24 Rec for 250 yds (10.4 yds/catch) 1 TD. T Taylor: 22 Rec for 182 yrds (8.3 yds/catch). Goodwyn: 20 Rec for 349 yds (17.5 yds/catch).
Field Goals -SF: Gould: 17/19
Punting - SF: Pinion's' gross yardage is 44.9
Punt Returns -SF : Taylor had 14 returns for 11.2 ypr.
Kickoff Returns - SF: Bolden: 12 returns for (20.2/ypr.
Tackles - Armstrong (54), Tartt (52), Buckner (39), D Johnson (38), Bowman (38)
Sacks - SF: 17 (vs. Opponents' 27) - Dumerville (3.5), Douzable (2), S Thomas (2)
Interceptions - SF: 5 Picks (vs. Opponents' 7): Armstrong (2), Three other Niners (1 apiece)
Daniel Munyer is out. Ellington, B Golden, C WIlliams, F Rucker and K Dansby are questionable.
Pierre Garcon and Joe Staley, Solomon Thomas, K Williams and A Lynch are out. R Foster is questionable.
WR.....15 Garcon......81 T Taylor.....10 Bourne
LT.......74 Staley (Inj)
LG ..75 Tomlinson.....68 Beadles
OC .67 Kilgore
RG.....63 Fusco.....62 Magnuson
RT.....77 T Brown.....76 Gilliam
TE......85 Kittle.....88 Celek.....83 Hikutini
WR ..11 Goodwin.....19 A Robinson....17 V Bolden Jr
RB ....28 Hyde.....22 Breida.....31 Mostert
QB.....03 Beathard...10 Garoppolo
LDE 97 Mauro..........72 Pierre.............94 X Williams
DT 98 Peters..........95 Gunter
DT 92 Rucker.........90 Nkemdiche
SLB .55 C Jones.......54 Albright
ILB 20 Bucannon....58 Wright
ILB 56 Dansby........57 Bynes
WLB 43 Reddick.......96 K Martin
LCB 21 Peterson.....26 B Williams
RCB 25 T Williams... 28 Bethel.
SS 27 Branch........41 Bethea.
FS 32 Mathieu ......36 Baker
Matchup: Niner Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Update - Garcon was placed on IR. Depends on who's starting. Will SF throw (Cardinal killer) Garoppolo into the water or will they stick with the rookie Beathard? (Ed Note - Reports are that Beathard will start this one final game). Now that Garcon is out, their biggest deep threat is Goodwyn (17.5 ypc). Makes sense to put Peterson on him with T Williaams assigned to Taylor. They also like to hit Hyde out of the backfield.
Loss of Golden to Cardinal pass rush has been an underrated factor. While his partner in crime, C Jones, continues to rack up sacks, opposing QB's have had too much time to hit secondary receivers. Underrated factor on the DL could turn out to be Nkemdiche (but his injury-plagued play continues to be too much up and down). While P Peterson continues to be "lock down", shaky play at #2 CB has been a concern all year, and Cards appear to have opted to sit Bethel and B Williams in favor of starting T Williams (who makes up for lack of speed with veteran savvy. Watch out for #22 (Breida) out of the backfield.
On paper, the Cards appear to be talented at safety, but (despite an occasional flash) T Mathieu still doesn't look fully recovered from injury, and rookie Budda Baker is still learning the ropes. Top tackler on defense is Branch. Top interceptor is Bethea.
Key Matchups: Peterson vs. Goodwyn.. T Williams vs. T Taylor...Card LB's vs. Hyde or Breida. Garcon vs. Peterson. Cardinal D-Line vs Niner O-Line.
Matchup: Niner Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Hyde has gained 453 yards on 112 attempts (not overwhelming, but let him get a full head of steam and he can blacktop you. Breida is a reliable #2 RB.
When Cards want to, they can stop the run. Doing so, this week may turn out to be the key to victory.
Key Matchup: Hyde or Breida vs. Card LB's and Branch. SF OL vs. Cardinal DL.
WR1 11 Fitzgerald......14 Nelson.....16 C Williams
LT 74 Humphries.....73 Wetzel
LG 75 Boone.
C 53 Shipley...........70 Boehm.....62 Munyer
RG 71 Watford.........70 Boehm..
RT........68 Veldheer........69 Holden
TE .87 Niklas............80 Momah
WR2 .13 Ja Brown......12 Jo Brown.....10 Golden
QB .05 Stanton.........07 Gabbert
RB 23 A Peterson...33 K Williams.....38 Ellington.....35 Penny.....37 Foster
TE 84 Gresham .....86 Seals-Jones
LDE......xx Douzable.....58 Dumerville.....59 Lynch
LDT......90 Mitchell.....93 DJ Jones
RDT.....99 Buckner.....69 McDaniel
RDE.....94 S Thomas....96 D Jones
SAM.....57 Harold.....97 D Watson.....55 Taumoepenu
MIKE....56 Foster.........47 E Lee
WILL....54 R R Armstrong....50Coyle...46 Nzeocha
LCB.....23 Witherspoon....20 Hall
RCB.....36 D Johnson.
NB........24 K Williams
FS........25 Ward.......38 Colbert
SS....... 35 Reid.....29 Tartt.....27 McColl
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Niner Pass Defense
With Carson Palmer out for much if not the rest of the season, it will be up to Drew Stanton to step up and fill the voic. Question is: "Can he?" When at the top of his game, Stanton is strong in the pocket, fairly accurate and a good game manager. If he keeps mistakes to a minimum, that should be enough to beat a subpar Niner team. Second question - How much rope does BA give Stanton before he succumbs to fan and management pressure to put in Gabbert?
Niners just traded an error-prone starting corner in R Robinson and are thin at the CB position (not good when you're facing several "spread the ball around" Cardinal receivers (namely. Fitz, the 2 Browns, Nelson and Golden). And the Niners aren't getting a huge pass rush either (their designated pass rusher - Dumervil - has 3.5 sacks, and their total production = 17 sacks they've racked up vs 27 sacks they've allowed).
Key Matchups: Stanton and 6 WR's vs. Niner DB's...Grsham or Niklas vs. Tartt. Dumerville vs. Humphries.
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Niner Run Defense
Cardinals lost bell cow David Johnson but added future HOFer Adrian Peterson. The former Viking RB star looked All World in his initial outing, but was corralled big time by a stingy Eagle defense. Offensive Question - Does BA take the heat off Stanton by adding heavier doses of Peterson? Or does he simply game-plan as though there was no difference between Palmer and Stanton and keep his play calling mixed up. Niners are missing N Bowman at LB
Key Matchups: Peterson vs. Mitchell and Buckner. But the key figures to be Cardinal OL and TEs vs. Niner front seven (with Tartt the 8th guy into the box).
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 49 Drescher
KR 33 K Williams
PR 33 K Williams
Matchup: Niner Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Niners - Gould is gold. ((Unfortunately, Dawson's success rate isn't). Lee and Pinion are pretty even as punters. Still dunno much about Mostert or Taylor as returners. Cardinal returners are well below the poverty line.
Key matchups: Gould gives the Cards a 6-pt edge over Dawson..
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). Niners appear to be in a re-tooling mode, but no team likes to go winless. Expect SF to fight for a win before their home crowd like caged backup rats
Cards - Defeatest fans would claim that, due to Carson Palmer's injury, the Cardinal season is, for all intents and purposes "over." The rest of us would maintain that "we're only one game under .500 in a very competitive NFC West division and, if we all pull together, we still gotta shot. To pull off the latter, BA will have to do his best coaching job ever.
How to Beat Niners
No mistakes. Stop Hyde. Leverage our talent advantage and execute cleanly.
We're sliding along the tight-rope wire between success and failure. Danger is that we take the Niners lightly. Big mistake - we have absolutely no margin for errro.