It's a quick turnaround for the San Francisco 49ers, who are coming off of an imposing win over the Carolina Panthers. The 49ers traveled to Glendale, Ariz. for a primetime divisional matchup against the Cardinals. Arizona has won eight-straight contests against the red-hot 49ers, who are looking to extend their perfect streak to start 2019.
This week, 49ers.com is joined by Jennifer Lee Chan, 49ers insider for NBC Sports Bay Area. Lee Chan has covered the 49ers as a beat writer for NBC Sports Bay Area since 2018 where she also assists 49ers insider Matt Maiocco offering pregame analysis on 49ers First Look and the live pregame show. She was the 49ers beat writer for SBNation/NinersNation.com for the previous five seasons. On to this week's Four Downs.
1. Most important Cardinals player to contain?
@KeianaMartinTV: Chandler Jones
Spectators finally got to see the 49ers offense get going on Sunday against the Panthers, where Jimmy Garoppolo managed to spread the ball around to seven different receivers en rotue to 175 passing yards and two touchdowns. One of the quarterback's biggest challenges this week will be defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones has racked up 8.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits through eight games. He is capable of getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers. He will be a key player to watch while San Francisco is still without both of its starting tackles.
@JenniferLeeChan: Kyler Murray
Murray is the first truly mobile quarterback the 49ers defense will face. They obviously also have to stop new addition running back Kenyan Drake, but in the games where Murray has been able to run the ball 10 or more times, the Cardinals have won. Dee Ford and Nick Bosa will need to contain him on the outside while DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead limit his vision downfield.
2. What is the game's best storyline to watch?
@KeianaMartinTV: Nick Bosa vs. Kyler Murray
The No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the 2019 draft will go head to head in the primetime clash. As Jennifer mentioned above, Murray is the most mobile quarterback the 49ers have faced so far this season. He's also decisive with his throws. The rookie hasn't thrown an interception in 148 passing attempts. Meanwhile, the NFC Defensive Player of the Month has been a constant disrupter, registering seven sacks, 21 quarterback pressures, 13 quarterback hits through seven games. The 49ers will look to the young buck to force Murray into uncomfortable situations. Murray is a challenge, but it will be fun to watch how Bosa responds.
@JenniferLeeChan: Larry Fitzgerald vs. Richard Sherman
The matchup between Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman is one for the books. They both know each other's habits and behaviors enough where it will be like a chess match when they are lined up across from each other. There is so much respect between the two of them as well as a heightened level of competition that they will be entertaining to watch even when the ball doesn't get thrown in their direction.
3. Who is the 49ers X-factor in Week 9?
@KeianaMartinTV: Tevin Coleman
It was a mere four days ago when San Francisco's running back put up 118 yards and four total touchdowns in the 49ers victory over the Carolina Panthers. As the saying goes, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." San Francisco's rushing offense is averaging 181.1 yards per game, the second-best in the league. Both Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert enter the game slightly banged up, as the two were questionable heading into Thursday. I'd expect Coleman to be the primary workhorse in an offense where the run game continues to thrive.
@JenniferLeeChan: George Kittle
It might not be "National Tight Ends Day" but George Kittle finally gets his due. He has had four touchdowns called back because of penalties this season and only one to his credit. With Emmanuel Sanders as another target for the Cardinals to defend, Kittle has his best statistical outing of the season and his second 100-yard total game. (And of course many of those yards will be after contact.)
4. Bold Prediction
@KeianaMartinTV: 49ers defense holds Murray to under 100 yards
Since coming off of the Bye in Week 4, San Francisco has held its opponents to under 100 passing yards for four-straight games. With this stout defense, I predict the 49ers continue the trend against Murray and Co. If this happens, the 49ers will become the fifth team in the Super Bowl era to limit opponents to 100 or fewer passing yards in five straight games, and the first in the last 46 years!
@JenniferLeeChan: 49ers register 5+ sacks
Nick Bosa and the defense have another exceptional game. They rack up at least five sacks and Bosa, wanting to prove his worth over the number one overall pick gets two on his own and either a forced fumble or interception. Murray hasn't thrown a pick since Week 4 and the 49ers will change that.