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49ers 2023 Opponent Preview: Arizona Cardinals

The countdown to training camp and the 2023 NFL regular season has begun with the league releasing report days for each of the 32 clubs. The San Francisco 49ers have set a rookie report day of July 18, and veterans are expected back in Santa Clara a week later on July 25.

As all 32 teams begin gearing up for training camp, is breaking down some of the key matchups of the upcoming season in this 2023 opponent preview series. We'll also hear directly from the opposition on their club's biggest offseason moves.

Up next, we are breaking down another NFC West opponent in the Arizona Cardinals. San Francisco will host the Cardinals at Levi's® Stadium in Week 4, and in Week 15, the red and gold will return to Glendale, Arizona for the first time since Week 5 of the 2021 season.

Previous Installments: Seattle Seahawks

2022 Season Recap

The 2022 campaign did not play out favorably for the Cardinals, who finished 4-13 on the year and in last place in the NFC West. The story of the season involved costly season-ending or significant injuries to starters and inconsistent play from all three phases, resulting in the team's first losing record since the 2019 season. Arizona closed out the year on a seven-game losing streak, and following the end of the regular season slate, parted ways with general manager Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The lengthy list of injured players from the 2022 season includes four starting offensive linemen in D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh, Rodney Hudson and Will Hernandez, starting quarterback Kyler Murray, tight end Zach Ertz, wide receiver Marquise Brown and safety Budda Baker, among others. Aside from injuries to their stars, the team also had to contend with a six-game suspension to veteran DeAndre Hopkins to kick off the season.

In an update from new Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon on the PHNX Cardinals podcast, Murray, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 14 versus the New England Patriots, is "chomping at the bit" as he progresses through the rehab process. There is currently no official timetable for Murray's return.

The 49ers swept the Cardinals in 2022, securing a 38-10 victory in Mexico City for the NFL International Series Game and a 38-13 win over Arizona in the regular season finale.

Check out pregame images as the San Francisco 49ers prepare to take on the Arizona Cardinals at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

Key Offseason Additions

Drafted Players

  • OT Paris Johnson Jr.
  • EDGE BJ Ojulari
  • CB Garrett Williams
  • WR Michael Wilson
  • OL John Gaines II
  • QB Clayton Tune
  • LB Owen Pappoe
  • CB Kei'Trel Clark
  • DT Dante Stills

Acquired and Retained Free Agents

  • CB Kris Boyd
  • CB Rashad Fenton
  • DT Carlos Watkins
  • DT L.J. Collier
  • CB Antonio Hamilton
  • LB Josh Woods
  • DT Jonathan Ledbetter
  • WR Zach Pascal
  • QB David Blough
  • OL Will Hernandez
  • LB Kyzir White
  • OL Hjalte Froholdt
  • OT Kelvin Beachum
  • LB Ezekiel Turner
  • K Matt Prater
  • RB Corey Clement
  • WR Greg Dortch

Coaching Changes and Promotions

  • General manager: Monti Ossenfort
  • Head coach: Jonathan Gannon
  • Offensive coordinator: Drew Petzing
  • Defensive coordinator: Nick Rallis
  • Passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach: Drew Terrell
  • Quarterbacks coach: Israel Woolfork
  • Offensive line coach: Klayton Adams
  • Assistant offensive line coach: Chris Cook
  • Running backs coach: Autry Denson
  • Defensive line coach: Derek LeBlanc
  • Assistant defensive line: William Peagler
  • Outside linebackers coach: Rob Rodriguez
  • Assistant to the head coach: Brandon Schwab
  • Assistant special teams: Sam Sewell
  • Cornerbacks coach: Ryan Smith
  • Tight ends coach: Ben Steele
  • Director, Football Performance: Shea Thompson
  • Defensive backs coach: Patrick Toney

Hear From the Other Side

Get an insider's perspective as digital content coordinator Craig Grialou answered some questions regarding the club's offseason moves.

How would you assess the start of the Monti Ossenfort/Jonathan Gannon era now that the duo has gone through a free agency, draft and early portion of the offseason together?

So far, so good. Ossenfort took a very deliberate approach to free agency, whether that was signing new or retaining players. He also increased the team's draft capital. The Cardinals will have six picks in the first three rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft. Gannon, meanwhile, is high-energy. All the time. Both are responsible for the different vibe felt within the building. It's all positive right now. Of course, how all of this translates to the on-field product on Sundays is wait-and-see.

Which player was the most critical free agent signing for the Cardinals?

Kyzir White - the Cardinals didn't spend a lot of money in free agency. The money they did spend, however, a big chunk went to the inside linebacker, who finds himself reunited with his former defensive coordinator (Gannon) and position coach (Rallis) from Philadelphia. White has been very productive in his career. But, more importantly, it's his familiarity with the scheme Gannon and Rallis, now the Cardinals defensive coordinator, are expected to run. White can be an extension of both coaches on the field.

What are your early impressions of the 2023 rookie class? Any early standouts during OTAs?

All nine draft picks, I believe, have a shot at making the team and becoming key contributors this season. Paris Johnson Jr., selected sixth overall, is going to be given every chance to win the starting job at right tackle. The most buzz, though, surrounded third-round wide receiver Michael Wilson. Coaches and teammates raved about his talents. And from what the media was able to watch, Wilson has natural pass-catching ability. Plus, at 6-foot-2, he gives the position some size that had been lacking in recent years.

What is the latest update on QB Kyler Murray as he continues to battle back from an ACL injury?

No news is good news, right? Very little is known about where Murray is in his rehab. The media has been told he's first-in and last-out at the facility. He was spotted several times watching, getting mental reps, as his teammates practiced during the offseason. It would still seem to be a stretch to expect him available Week 1, but, again, the Cardinals have been very tight-lipped about their franchise quarterback.

Given the moves around the division, what are your expectations for the competition level of the NFC West in 2023?

It would appear the division is a two-team race between the 49ers and Seahawks with the Rams and Cardinals well behind. Then again, a year ago, the expectations were the Seahawks would finish at or near the bottom and what happened? They won nine games and made the playoffs. Health – as it always does – will play a large factor in determining what happens. But, on paper, the 49ers are loaded and then there are questions. Can the Seahawks continue what they started last season? Do the Rams have enough talent? And what will the Cardinals look like with a new head coach?

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