The San Francisco 49ers look to bounce back in Week 11 as they host the Arizona Cardinals for their second meeting in three weeks. We are joined by Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group to discuss four topics surrounding the 49ers divisional matchup. Inman has covered the 49ers and the NFL since 2000. Born in Santa Clara and raised in Cupertino, he bombed as a center on his eighth-grade football team and went into sportswriting.
With that, here's this week's Four Downs:
1st Down: 49ers Biggest Lesson
@KeianaMartinTV: Kyler Murray is really good
Murray and Arizona's offense got the better of San Francisco's defense in Week 9 as the rookie put up 241 yards on 17 completions and two touchdowns two weeks ago. DeForest Buckner was spot on with his "little squirrel" reference. According to NextGenStats, Murray has been the toughest player to sack in the NFL, as the rookie has evaded 34.1 percent of pressures this season. Not only can he escape pressure, but he can beat you with both his arm and his legs. This season, Murray has put up 351 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground. The 49ers defense, for the most part, was able to limit Russell Wilson's mobility in Week 10. They'll have to contain another mobile quarterback for the third-straight week against Arizona.
@CamInman: Kittle is too vital to offense
It took a whole lot to go wrong for the 49ers to finally lose their first game, and it even took overtime. George Kittle's absence was glaring, from not only his catch-and-run ability, but also run blocking and overall presence. Also, Emmanuel Sanders' exit showed how instantly valuable he's become, especially when others dropped at least seven passes. The 49ers can't afford so many lapses and need offensive playmakers to emerge as the stakes mount.
2nd Down: 49ers Key to Victory vs. Cardinals
@KeianaMartinTV: Win the turnover battle
During San Francisco's first loss of the season, each of Seattle's touchdowns in regulation came off of turnovers. The 49ers gave up 21 points on Monday night, compared to San Francisco's seven scored off of four takeaways. Those points are ultimately what decided San Francisco's fate as those short field opportunities led to the 49ers demise. If drops were the 49ers greatest issue in Week 10 (which Kyle Shanahan and his team determined the offense lost 108 yards to dropped passes), then ball security is a close second.
@CamInman: Offense rediscovers itself
Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense must get back on track, not only to outscore the Cardinals, but gain momentum for the ensuing gauntlet against fellow Super Bowl contenders -- the Packers, the Ravens and the Saints. As great as Garoppolo was in the Halloween celebration at Arizona (four touchdowns, 317 yards), let's see him and the 49ers blockers engineer lengthy drives with the revival of the league's No. 2 rushing attack.
3rd Down: Underappreciated Storyline in Week 11
@KeianaMartinTV: Home Field Advantage
The Faithul have been a true difference maker from the start of the 2019 season and it hasn't gone unnoticed. San Francisco's locker room and coaching staff have all acknowledged the energy fans have brought this season. Even on the road, teams are forced to use the silent count… on their own home field! This team is visibly feeding off of this revitalized energy around Levi's® Stadium, and it will make an immense difference not only when Arizona comes to town, but also the ensuing three aforementioned playoff-hungry opponents.
@CamInman: Farewell to Fitz?
This could the 49ers final time facing one of their all-time tormentors, Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals classy and constantly productive wide receiver. He had only four catches for 38 yards against them Oct. 31, but the 36-year-old remains the Cardinals top target, and he ranks only behind Jerry Rice in catches and receiving yards. Fitzgerald has 18 touchdowns and 11 100-yard games in 31 meetings with the 49ers, including an overtime TD to spoil the 49ers 2017 visit to Arizona. No player has more 100-yard games against an opponent than Fitzgerald's 11 vs. the 49ers and Rice's 11 vs. the Atlanta Falcons.
4th Down: Bold Prediction:
It may not have shown up on the stat sheet in Week 9, but San Francisco's rookie edge rusher was indeed impactful in the primetime win. The rookie registered three quarterback hurries against the mobile No. 1 overall pick. I'm certain Bosa would like those hurries to turn into sacks, and I foresee him making the necessary adjustments to hit home the second time around.
@CamInman: It's 'Celek Time' again
It's been two years since the phrase "Celek Time" was born, and look for Garrett Celek to make a timely catch Sunday for his first touchdown this season. It'll happen on the 49ers' second series, on a red-zone pass from Jimmy Garoppolo as the 49ers head for a 20-12 win. Celek played only 10 snaps in his season debut Monday. He's caught 11 passes and three touchdowns from Garoppolo in nine games together.