*!In this week's Catch 82 column, wide receiver Bryant Johnson shares his scouting report on the 49ers rematch with his former Arizona Cardinals club. *
Monday Night Football is great. You know you are the only game on so you know everyone is watching and that you are going to be getting phone calls before and after the game, text messages, and people wanting tickets to the game. And again, because it's an isolated game, it just adds more excitement and an overall different atmosphere from a Sunday game.
Now, on to the Cardinals specifically.
Their defense is for the most part the same personnel we saw in the opener.
Darnell Dockett is doing a great job up front. I think all of their guys are playing pretty well. Bertrand Berry is getting in there and doing well, getting fumble recoveries and knocking the ball out of the quarterback's hands. Travis LaBoy and Clark Haggans are some pretty good players and they bring an added pass rush aspect to that defense. They do a wonderful job of just trying to push back the line with their front.
I think everything this week starts with the play in the trenches. If we can control the line of scrimmage, I think we can get a lot of things done that we want to offensively, especially getting Frank Gore the ball with our running game and then getting the ball down the field to the receivers in the passing game.
We want to get Gore into the second level because he can make guys miss or just run over them, but Arizona is good inside at linebacker and we'll have to get bodies on those guys. Karlos Dansby is doing a pretty good job and Gerald Hayes is definitely holding his own.
In the secondary, they did make a change last week in favor of the rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Eric Green got beat on a deep ball and then they made the switch. I thought he played pretty well. He's pretty fast and he seems instinctive. I still think Eric is a pretty good player. I know he probably doesn't like the fact that he was taken out of the game, but we can still expect him to come out and play tough. I was there for five years and I know how these guys practice and their mentality. So, I expect him to come out there and still play tough to try and win his job back.
Roderick Hood has been matching up against the best receiver the past couple of games, and they feel comfortable with him handling that responsibility. He was on Torry Holt the whole game, TO the whole game, and Steve Smith. I'm pretty sure his confidence level is high after making plays against those type of guys.
As for Adrian Wilson, we already know that he's an outstanding safety. He can make plays in the passing game as well as coming down into the box and blitzing and making plays on the quarterback and causing havoc back there.
Antrell Rolle is doing a pretty good job moving from corner to safety. It showed last week when he was able to jump on the ball and take it to the house.
It's important for all of us to step up as receivers against these guys. I think going into the second half of the season we all want to play better, in every aspect. We need to play at our best going down this stretch so that we can make a push.
First of all, we need to take care of the ball. They're ranked very high in takeaways. We have to negate their pass rush and their get-offs from the defensive line position. Our offensive line needs to play pretty well. I think with protection, we can make some plays down the field.
In the last game against them we had five turnovers, and when you do that, it makes it that much more difficult to be able to stay in the ball game, let alone win the game. It's definitely imperative that we take care of the ball.
As a receiver, if you're not able to make a play and the play is close, you have to become a defender and be able to keep the defense from getting the ball. Sometimes you turn into a defensive back at times.
Shaun Hill is definitely careful with the ball. He came in last year and played pretty well and we look for him to do the same thing now.
They have a very high-powered potent offense, our defense is going to try and do the best they can to get them off the field, but we know we're going to have to put up points as well.
I'm exciting about going back there to play and I think it'll be fun to play in that awesome stadium. The fans have kicked it up a notch the last couple of years so you can expect it to be a hostile environment, especially with their team playing well and where they are trying to go. We have to be prepared for noise and a different level of play in all phases of the game. It's a great opportunity for us to really get back on track and I think everyone is excited to play.