The San Francisco 49ers are set to take on the Arizona Cardinals for the second time in three weeks. The 49ers are looking to bounce back from the overtime loss against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10. Here are five key matchups that could decide this NFC West divisional showdown.
1. CB Richard Sherman vs. WR Larry Fitzgerald
Richard Sherman is playing at a Pro Bowl level so far this season. The 49ers defensive captain has registered 35 tackles, nine passes defensed and three interceptions (one pick-six) through the team's first nine games. In the Week 9 matchup against the Cardinals, Sherman posted five-total tackles and one pass defended. The 49ers cornerback will be tasked again with slowing down Larry Fitzgerald. Two weeks ago, Fitzgerald caught all four of his targets for 38 yards. In his career against San Francisco, Fitzgerald has hauled in 177 passes for 2,344 yards and 18 touchdowns.
2. LB Fred Warner vs. RBs David Johnson and Kenyan Drake
Warner has built off a strong rookie campaign, turning it into an impressive sophomore season. The middle linebacker leads the team in tackles with 58. Warner is coming off one of his most complete games of the season in Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks. He posted 10 total tackles, 2.0 sacks and one forced fumble on Monday night. Warner will be in charge of leading the defense against the Cardinals rushing attack. For the first time since Week 5, David Johnson was not on Arizona's injury report. Johnson was absent the last time these two teams met in Week 9. In 2019, the fifth-year running back accounted for 625 yards (302 rushing and 323 receiving) and five touchdowns through five games. With Johnson seemingly back in the fold, the Cardinals will look to balance out their offense while rotatating in Kenyan Drake. Drake carried the ball 15 times for 110 yards when he made his Arizona debut against the 49ers two weeks ago. The Cardinals running back was also a factor in the passing game with four catches for 52 yards. The 49ers defense will need to key in on both of these running backs on Sunday.
3. WR Deebo Samuel vs. CB Patrick Peterson
Deebo Samuel is coming off of his most impressive outing as a pro. The rookie wideout posted a career high in both receptions (eight) and receiving yards (112). With veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders' status unknown going into Sunday, the 49ers will be looking for Samuel to step up. On the season, Samuel has 30 receptions for 339 yards, five carries for 37 yards and two total touchdowns. Patrick Peterson hopes to have found his footing after missing the first six games of the season due to suspension. In the Cardinals last four games, the veteran cornerback posted 17 total tackles, 1.0 sack, one interception, one forced fumble and one pass defensed.
4. CB K'Waun Williams vs. WR Christian Kirk
K'Waun Williams has become one of the 49ers most important pieces on defense. Williams has 31 total tackles, 1.0 sack, two interceptions, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles in 2019. As the team's nickel cornerback, Williams has shut down opposing slot receivers at an impressive rate. Per Pro Football Focus, Williams has only allowed a 50.9 passer rating when covering slot receivers. Christian Kirk will line up all over the field including the slot. Kirk had a career day in Week 10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hauling in six passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 23 yards per reception. The 49ers will be looking to replicate how they limited Kirk's effectiveness in Week 9, when the wideout was held to two catches for eight yards.
5. OL Laken Tomlinson vs. DT Corey Peters
Laken Tomlinson has been an anchor for the 49ers interior offensive line this season. Tomlinson has not allowed a sack in his 650 snaps in 2019. His ability to move and get to the second level of the defense has also helped San Francisco's second-ranked rushing attack. The fifth-year pro will be helping with limiting the Cardinals defensive line, particularly defensive tackle Corey Peters - a savvy defensive lineman. Peters has registered 2.5 sacks, 14 total tackles and five tackles for loss on the year. In their matchup in Week 9, Peters registered two tackles, one for loss.