Our staff writers break down the San Francisco 49ers Week 9 matchup, a home game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Let's dive into the keys to the game in this "Four Downs" preview of Sunday's divisional matchup, presented by SunPower.1st Down:Who will record the 49ers longest play from scrimmage?@Joe_Fann: Marquise Goodwin
It's remarkable how banged up the 49ers roster is. With Pierre Garçon (neck) now San Francisco's latest addition to its Injured Reserve List, Goodwin is now the team's defacto No. 1 receiver. Goodwin has 20 catches for 349 yards on the season. He caught a few bombs earlier in the season with a 51-yarder standing as his longest reception of the season. He'll need to make a few big plays for C.J. Beathard if the 49ers offense is going to have a chance to put up points.
@KeianaMartinTV: Aldrick Robinson
The 49ers receivers will have to step up in Garçon's absence to help the 49ers 22nd-ranked passing offense. The last time the 49ers faced the Cardinals, Aldrick Robinson led the team in targets (12) and yards (52), including a 24-yard reception that led to points for San Francisco. Since then, Robinson has been fairly quiet, aside from a 45-yard touchdown catch in Washington in Week 6. As one of the few healthy veterans left in the 49ers receiving group, I look to Robinson to have a breakout game on Sunday.2nd Down: Which 49ers defender will force a turnover?
@Joe_Fann: Reuben Foster
I'm doubling down on Foster. He was a gameday scratch last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he should play on Sunday against Arizona. With all of the attrition on the 49ers defense, the group could use an impact performance from the rookie linebacker.
Foster is likely to make a return after missing Week 8 with a rib injury. The 49ers first-round pick has missed a total of seven games this season, and you can expect he's eager to make a big play. His Week 9 return against Drew Stanton and the Cardinals offers a great opportunity.3rd Down: Who is the 49ers rookie to watch?
@Joe_Fann: Trent Taylor and George Kittle
I'm cheating and taking two for the same reason I took Goodwin on first down. The loss of Garçon can't be overstated. Taylor and Kittle have already been starters since Day 1, but now they'll be relied upon far more to be impact players on the 49ers offense. Both have one touchdown on the season. At least one of them will need to find the end zone again on Sunday against the Cardinals.
It's evident the coaches believe in the rookie enough to feel comfortable trading away Rashard Robinson. Witherspoon has continued to progress through his four appearances this season. In his first NFL start last week, Witherspoon recorded his first interception off of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, setting up the 49ers only touchdown. Witherspoon will be challenged in his second start against the Cardinal's fifth-ranked passing offense on Sunday.4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@Joe_Fann: The 49ers get a defensive score
This is getting tougher and tougher amid a season of whiffs on these predictions. San Francisco's defense is overdue for a defensive score. I can't think of a better week to get one than against Drew Stanton and Arizona's banged up offensive line.
@KeianaMartinTV:At least seven sacks for the 49ers defense
The 49ers defensive line harassed Carson Palmer in Week 4. The 49ers pass rush exploited the Cardinals offensive line with six sacks and 16 quarterback hits. I expect more of that at home on Sunday. With the emergence of Leger Douzable, who recorded two sacks in Week 8, I anticipate a party in the backfield on Sunday.