The Arizona Cardinals are flying high as the lone undefeated team in the NFL heading into Week 5. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers have a tall task at hand as they look to regain their footing in the Week 5 divisional matchup. To preview Sunday's game, 49ers.com is joined by Cardinals senior writer Darren Urban to break down several storylines and the matchups to watch in the divisional showdown.
Here are this week's Four Downs:
1st Down: What Impressed You Most From Week 4?
@KeianaMartinTV: 49ers Defensive Hot Start
I can go two different directions here with this one. One would be how Trey Lance performed in his largest snap share of the season despite not knowing until moments before he'd be manning the entire second half with a calf injury to Jimmy Garoppolo. By no means was it perfect, but it was a good developmental moment for the rookie and interesting to watch his decision making and ability to extend plays with his legs (which the 49ers will see a lot of against Kyler Murray on Sunday). But I just can't ignore what San Francisco's defense managed to do against the highest scoring first half offense. In the first half and some of the 49ers Week 4 matchup, Russell Wilson and Seattle's offense had no answer for San Francisco's defense. The team notched five-straight three-and-outs with three of them coming by way of third down sacks.
It was one of the best defensive showings we've seen from Demeco Ryans' unit so far this season. Through almost the majority of the half, Seattle amassed -7 yards of total offense and didn't collect a single first down until nearly 26 minutes into the contest. That performance was very reminiscent of the vaunted 2019 49ers defensive unit. The hope is that the glimpse everyone saw in Week 4 wasn't a singular occurrence, but that the unit can continue to build off of that performance going forward.
@CardsChatter: Kyler Murray's Playmaking
There were a lot of things to choose from – the improving run game that dominated the fourth quarter, the defense that was simply sound all the way around and basically derailed a really good Rams offense. But it's impossible not to pick Kyler Murray. Murray was statistically impressive. Not only did he take care of the ball with smart decisions, and of course made a couple of plays with his legs that were instant SportsCenter highlights, but he has a command of the offense and this team that wasn't there last year. There was an intangible feel to Murray's game that has taken the offense's confidence to a new level.
2nd Down: Under-the-Radar Player Who Has Been Making Waves
@KeianaMartinTV: Emmanuel Moseley
Going to piggyback off of the initial response and stick with the defense and in particular highlight how cornerback Emmanuel Moseley has stepped up since returning from a knee injury. Moseley missed the first two contests of the season before returning in Week 3. Since rejoining the team, the cornerback has recorded four pass breakups, tied for 14th-best in the league despite playing two less games.
Against Seattle, Moseley held up well against the Seahawks star-studded receiving corps, seeing 10-total targets and allowed completions on just half of them, finishing with a 68.8 passer rating allowed, per PFF. It's no secret that the 49ers have been dealing with their share of injury woes at the cornerback position with Jason Verrett (ACL) out for the season and Josh Norman's (chest) status still up in the air. The 49ers fourth-year corner will have another tough test ahead of him with a receiving corps that features DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore.
@CardsChatter: Rodney Hudson
Center Rodney Hudson already was a star in the league, but he has proven to be a missing piece needed for this offense. There have been some injury issues at guard, yet Hudson has made sure the offensive line has stayed together and productive. He has taught Murray some things about what he is seeing on defense, and remains playing-wise still one of the best at his position in the league. Honorable mention to cornerback Byron Murphy Jr.
3rd Down: The Biggest Challenge That Lies ahead in Week 5
@KeianaMartinTV: Kyler Murray
There's not a more obvious answer than Murray, who is already garnering MVP consideration through four weeks of the season. Murray is currently averaging over 300 yards per game, the third best mark in the league, and is completing a career-high 76.1 percent of his passes. And it doesn't hurt that opposing defenses are forced to pick their poison with an All-Star group of weapons at the quarterback's disposal. Murray has yet to defeat the 49ers in his own home since going No. 1 overall back in 2019 and San Francisco has a massive test at hand if they plan to keep that streak going on Sunday.
@CardsChatter: 49ers Ground Game
It doesn't matter who the 49ers put at running back, they often seem to have a good game against the Cards. And for as well as the Cardinals' defense has played at times this season, they have been inconsistent against the run. Assuming Trey Lance plays, the Cards will probably be able to focus even more on stopping the ground game, but we all know Kyle Shanahan will test the Cardinals regardless.
4th Down: Must-See Matchup in Week 5
@KeianaMartinTV: 49ers Pass Rush Containing Murray
I'm going to cheat here and just say the entire 49ers pass rush's ability to corral Murray. Despite only recording one career win against San Francisco, the quarterback continues to be a challenge for the 49ers for a number of reasons. In his lone victory, Murray threw for 230 yards, one touchdown and an interception. But what's notable about his outing is his 91 yards on the ground and a touchdown in the 24-20 victory.
The 49ers don't just have to worry about his arm but adjusting to his mobility and finding ways to force him into uncomfortable situations. In his four-career matchups against San Francisco, Murray has registered 868 yards while completing 66.7 percent of his passes, 267 rushing yards, seven total touchdowns, and two interceptions. Stopping Murray is critical if the 49ers want to bounce back big time going into their Week 6 Bye.
@CardsChatter: Chandler Jones vs. Trent Williams
I know Trent Williams might be a little banged up but he's arguably the best left tackle in the game and Jones is still seeking his first sack since his five-sack domination in the opener. Jones has still played well even without sacks, but Williams is the kind of guy who can take Jones out of the equation. It'll be interesting to watch – again, especially if a rookie is playing QB.