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Niners @ Cardinals Preview

Setting the Stage
Thursday Night (Halloween) Special. At the end of Week 7, the Niners were only one of two undefeated NFL teams (Pats were the other).

Offensively, the Niners - at Week 6 - ranked #11 in Total Points and #7 in Total Yards. Defensively, they ranked #2 in Total Points and #1 in Total Yards.

At this point in the season, Coleman led the team in TDs with 5 followed by Wilson with 4. .

Last week, the Niners pasted a 51-Burger on the Panthers (51 - 13) and are frequently talked about as a Top 5 team. Their rookie pass rusher (Bosa) is considered the reall deal. Their QB (Jimmy Garoppolo) is playimg above expectations and their defensive front four is playing lights out. .

Oct. 29 Injury Report:
Mostert and Brieda, Witherspoon and Staley are listed as Questionable.

Oct 28 Injury Report
Juszczyk and McGlinchey are listed as "Out." Skule is listed as Questionable.

Most Recent Game
51 - 13 shellacking of the Panteras. Call RB Tevin Coleman "Mr. Touchdown." He chalked up 3 runs and one catch for TDs.. Niners built a 14 - 3 1st quarter lead on a TD completion to Sanders and a 19-yd Coleman TD run. They widened their lead on a 10-yd pass to Coleman and a 48-yd Coleman run to finish the half with a 27 - 3 lead and coasted home to victory in the 2H.

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

SF - TD Sanders: 4 yd pass from Garoppolo - Niners 7 - Panthers 0

FG - Caro - Slye fr 41 - Niners 7 - Panthers 3

TD SF - Coleman 19 yd run - SF 14 - Panthers 3


2nd Quarter

TD - SF - Coleman 10 yd pass fr Garopplo - SF 21 - Panthers 3

TD - SF - Colerman 48 yd run (pass failed) - SF 27 - Panthers 3

2ND QUARTER SCORE: SF 27 - Panthers 3

3rd Quarter

Sfty - Caro - SF 27 - Panthers 5

TD Caro - McCaffery - 40 yd run (2-pt) - SF 27 - Panthers 13

TD - SF - Samuel - 20 yd run - SF 34 - Panthers 13

TD - SF - Coleman - 1 yd run - SF 41 - Panthers 13

3RD QUARTER SCORE: SF 41 - Panthers 13

4th Quarter

FG SF - Gould- 30 yds. - SF 44 - Panthers 13

TD SF - Mostert - 41 yd run -SF 51 - Panthers 13

FINAL SCORE: SF 51 - Panthers 13

Niners in a Nutshell
Arguably the Surprise Team of the NFL. Amazing aspect of the 51 - 13 baking of the Panthers was the emergence of the Niner RBs (both running and catching); most notably Coleman and Mostert (i.e. they did it with very little contribution from Brieda). Niners are one of only a handful of teams who rely on a FB ( Juszczyk) to bolster the running game. (Shows a willingness by Niner coaches to go down different paths).

Niners are a well-put together team solid at QB, RB, TE and OL on offense, and there's no dropoff on defense - Whether it's Bosa off the edge, Buckner or Armstead on the DL, ALexander at LB or Richard Sherman at corner - Niners look solid top to bottom. One very impressive aspect of the Niner depth chart is the quality of its backup depth (i.e. one guy goes down and another steps up).

QB ...10 Garoppolo...04 Mullens...03 Beathard

Running Backs
RB....26 T Coleman....22 Brieda.....30 J Wilson Jr 31 Mostert...
FB....44 Juszczyk

Wide Receivers
WR...xx Sanders...8 Pettis
WR ..11 Goodwin....84 Bourne...13 James Jr...81 Matthews
WR ..19 Samuel...13 James

Tight Ends
TE..85 Kittle...82 Dwelley...83 Toilolo

Offensive Line
LT....67 Skule...74 Staley
LG...75 Tomlinson...60 Brunskill
OC...58 Richburg...63 Garland
RG...68 Person
RT....65 Young...69 McGlinchey.

Cardinal Defense

Defensive Interior Line
LDE - 97 Z Allen...90 Bullard...91 Dogbe
NT - 98 Peters, 92 Kerr
RDE - 95 Gunter, 93 McDonald

SAM - 55 C Jones, 50 Reed
ILB - ..59 Walker...43 Reddick,
MLB - 58 Hicks, 42 Gardeck...47 Z Turner
WILL - 56 Suggs, 54 Marsh Sr

Defensive Backs
RCB - 33 Murphy.....27 K Peterson
LCB - ...21 P Peterson...20 Brock.
SS - 35 D Thompson...38 Banjo
FS - 32 Baker...34 J Thompson... 28 C Washington...
40 Tillman*

Matchup: Niner Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Jimmy Garoppolo has a 68.3% completion average; 7.9 YPC. 7 TDs and 6 Interceptions. He's been sacked 8 times. He targeted Kittle 42 times...Samuel 22...Goodwin 16 and Bourne 14. Kittle averaged 6.7 YPG, Samuel 33.6, Goodwin 30.2 and Bourne 23.2.

Their TE (Kittle) is the leading Niner receiving weapon. with 462 receiving yds. The addition of Sanders has apparently transformed a somwhat passive RB and WR core into a potent offensive weapon. Kittle vs. Cardinal safeies. Only check on coverage mismatches figures to be OLBs C Jones and Suggs. Wild card defeder figures to be Budda Baker, but he hasn't looked comfortablein the Cardinal scheme as of yet.

Key Matchups - Sanders vs. P Peterson...J Thompson and Reddick vs.Kittle and Coleman. Jones and Suggs vs. Staley or Skule and Young

Matchup: Niner Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
After spreading around the ball to Coleman, Brieda and Mostert, last week, the Niners made Coleman their primary RB weapon and he scored 4 TD's (3 on the ground/one thru the air). SF likes to use their FB Jusczyk (when healthy) as their lead blocker on inside runs

Key Matchups - Coleman vs. Hicks. Jusczyk vs. Cardinal LBs.

Cardinals Offense

01 Murray, 07 Hundley

Running Back
31 D Johnson, 29 Edmonds, 41 Drake...36 Morris...22 Zenner.

Wide Receivers
WR - 11 Fitzgerald...89 Isabella,
WR - 13 Kirk....19 KS Johnson..
WR - ..14 Byrd...16 Sherfield...12 Cooper

Tight Ends
TE - 85 Clay, 87 M Williams....81 Daniels

Offensive Line
LT- ...74 Humphries...66 Miles,
LG - 67 Pugh
OC- 53 Shipley, 52 Cole
RG- 64 Sweezy, 65 Gailliard.
RT - 71 J Murray..

Niner Defense
Bosa leads the Niners with 7 sacks followed by Armstead (5.5) and Ford (4.5). Warner leads the team in tackles (30) followed by Alexander (22) and Buckner (18). Sherman is the interception leader with 3 followed by K Williams (2).

Defensive Line
LDE....97 Bosa...55 Ford...98 Blair
LDT...93 .DJ Jones..96 Day
RDT....99 Buckner...77 J Taylor
RDE....91 Armstead...94 S Thomas

SLB 41 Mosely...57 Greenlaw...53 Nzeocha
MLB..54 Warner...51 Al-Shaair
WLB...56 Alexander

Defensive Backs
LCB....25 Sherman...24 K'W Williams.....38 D Johnson
RCB...41 Moseley...23 Witherspoon...32 Reed Jr
FS.....20 Ward...33 T Moore

SS.....29 Tartt...36 M Harris

Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Niner Pass Defense
I've got a theory about how Kingsbury calls plays - I think he has roughly a half-dozen templates that range from "Mostly Pass" to "Mostly Run", with a few others in-between. He then dials up a strategy based on matchups and opponents'strategies. Cards, therefore, like to mix things up; drawing from a variety of weapons in their arsenal, depending on how the defense wants to play it. Cardinal pass blockers will have all they can handle in Bosa, Armstead and Ford. Not sure if Murray can outrun Bosa. Dunno which offense Kingsbury will dial up, but I'm guessing it will be "pass often with all guns blazing." (Normally, I'd be tempted to play it conservative and try to hang in there for as long as possible. but I just think the matchups are too lopsided here to plsy things too close to the vest.

Key Matchups:
K Murray vs. Sherman...Humphries vs. Bosa...Cardinal OL vs Niner DL.

Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Niners Run Defense
Cards are a team without a starting RB.

David Johnson and Chase Edmonds are injured. DJ Foster was placed on IR, leaving it up to backup RBs Kenyon Drake, Zach Zenner and and Alfred Morris to shoulder the load.All three weigh north of 210 lbs, so we might assume that their primary roles will be as pass blockers.

Key Matchups
Drake vs. Warner and Armstead. Pugh, Shipley and Sweezy vs. Niner Front 7.

Special Teams

Niner Special Teams
     ..09 Gould
P ..... 06 Wishnowsky
H      06 Wishnowsky
LS    89 Sanborn
KR  .13 James Jr
PR   13 James Jr

Cardinals Special Teams
P - ...02 Lee
K- ....05 Gonzalez
H - ...02 Lee
LS - 46 Brewer
KR -12 Cooper... 89 Isabella...
PR - 13 Kirk...14 Byrd....12 Cooper

Matchup Niner Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
According to Week 6 numbers - Gould is a league fixture as a kicker. James is the Niner return specialist (with 13 punt returns for 157 yds and 12.1 YPR; no TDs/5 KO returns for 16.6 YPR and no TDs. Wishnowsky averaged 42.5 Net Punting Yards.

Key Matchups
Niners have a true point-grabbing weapon in their kicker, Gould. We like Lee slightly over wishnowsky. Don't know much about James as a returner, but Niners could afford to spend some resources on a ST home run hitter.

Coaching / Intangibles
HC/OC Kyle Shanahan...OC Pete Carmichael. DC Robert Saleh...ST: Richard Hightower
. Entering the season, I never saw it coming - the Niner coaching staff only took a year or two to completely transform their roster from doormat to powerhouse. Kudos to K Shanahan and his staff.

How to Beat Niners
If you play them head-to head, they will use their talent-advantage to wear you down. Normally, we'd say: Don't try to outsmart them or their RB's will gash your defense with misdirection trickeration. Stop their RB (Brieda) and TE (Kittle). Make them work for every yard-earned and every point-gotten. Don't let them steal a win."

But not this time - The Niners offer a different list of matchup problems. Our suggestion - Open up the playbook...go deep early and often. Wear our their secondary...and pray that the breaks fall in our direction. Happy Halloween (Booo!).

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 03/25/2013