Four Downs: Positions to Watch Against the Cardinals

Our staff writers break down the San Francisco 49ers Week 4 matchup, a road 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:Key to the game@Joe_Fann: Starting fast offensively

The 49ers put up 39 points in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams. Don't get me wrong, it was great to see the offense finally get going, but 26 of those points came in the second half while playing catch-up. San Francisco has scored just 19 points in the first half this season. That includes being shut out by the Carolina Panthers through two quarters in Week 1. It will be crucial, especially on the road, to avoid an early deficit against the Cardinals in Week 4.

@KeianaMartinTV: Limiting Carson Palmer

The Cardinals have become somewhat one-dimensional following the loss of star running back David Johnson. Palmer is coming off of a 325-yard game with two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Dallas Cowboys. He was 3-of-6 on passes beyond 20 yards, including two long completions to receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who finished with 149 yards on 13 receptions and a score. The entire 49ers defense will be relied on to contain Palmer and the Cardinals offense.2nd Down: Which 49ers player will force a turnover?

@Joe_Fann: Jimmie Ward

Ward is once again an every down player for the 49ers now that he's back to full strength. I think he gets his first interception of 2017 against Palmer. Arizona's quarterback isn't shy about taking chances downfield, and Ward's role is designed to be the "eraser". He should have a chance or two to make a play on the football against the Cardinals.

@KeianaMartinTV: NaVorro Bowman

Well, if history serves to repeat itself, NaVorro Bowman is in for a big game. In his last three matchups against the Cardinals, Bowman has totaled 27 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. I'm certain Bowman wants to bounce back after a subpar performance against the Rams, and Sunday provides a prime opportunity.3rd Down: What is the 49ers position group to watch?

@Joe_Fann: Wide receivers

Keiana's choice is the clear-cut answer here, but I'll throw out the wide receivers as another group to keep an eye on. We all know that Pierre Garçon struggled over the first two games, but he didn't get much help either. San Francisco had costly drops in each game. In Week 3, Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin stepped up with several highlight-reel catches to help out their quarterback. It's on Hoyer to give his guys a chance, but ultimately it comes down to the receivers' ability to make the play. Look out for more targets for Trent Taylor as well. He's quickly asserted himself as a staple in this offense.

@KeianaMartinTV: D-line

The 49ers are 30th in the league with just three sacks on the season. The only two teams behind San Francisco, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins, have played just two games. Last week against the Cowboys, the Cardinals struggled to protect Carson Palmer. Arizona gave up six sacks and 11 quarterback hits on Monday night. With the talent up front, we all know what San Francisco's d-line is capable of. Sunday should provide the 49ers pass rush with a prime opportunity to get going.4th Down: What is your bold prediction?

@Joe_Fann: Solomon Thomas gets two sacks

The 49ers pass rush is overdue for a big game, and Keiana just outlined why the Cardinals offensive line is ripe for the picking. Combine Arizona's o-line struggles with an immobile quarterback and you have a recipe for success if you're a 49ers defensive lineman. Thomas is still looking for his first career sack. I say he gets two on Sunday.

@KeianaMartinTV:Elvis Dumervil get his 100th career sack

I'm going to piggy back off of my last response a bit. San Francisco is now three games in to the season, and veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil has yet to notch his 100th career sack. Last week against the Rams, Dumervil's centennial sack on Jared Goff was erased due to a defensive holding penalty. The Cardinals, and the 49ers Week 5 opponent, the Indianapolis Colts, are two of the remaining three NFL teams that Dumervil has yet to record a sack against. I think he checks the Cardinals off of his to-do list in Week 4.

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