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Morning Report: Storylines to Watch Heading into #AZvsSF

Good Morning Faithful,

Here are your top 49ers storylines for Thursday, November 4.

New and Notable

George Kittle, Kyler Murray and Looming Question Marks ahead of #AZvsSF

The San Francisco 49ers will close out their series against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday as they look to even the score following their 17-10 loss in Week 5. San Francisco looks to carry its momentum from their Week 8 win against the Chicago Bears. Meanwhile, Arizona is coming to town rested, however with a number of questions surrounding key players following their Thursday night loss against the Green Bay Packers.

Cardinals senior writer Darren Urban joined 49ers.com to break down several storylines and help preview Sunday's divisional matchup. Here are Week 9's Four Downs:

  1. Biggest Takeaway from Week 8
  2. Areas of Improvement Since Week 5 Meeting
  3. Matchup/Rematch You're Most Looking Forward To
  4. Player(s) Who Must Step Up in Week 9

Rematch Between 49ers, Cardinals Presents a Vastly Different Challenge in Week 9

If one word were to be used to describe the 49ers mindset and performance heading into Week 9, it would be "resilient."

Each week, members of the 49ers say that they look at their schedule one game at a time. Each teammate committed to the same mindset, doing whatever it takes to win. Even if it takes the entire offense to push into the end zone – quarterback included.

This week's focus is on one of the top teams in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals. Quarterback Kyler Murray has led his team to an almost perfect start to the season, taking their first loss last week against the Green Bay Packers.

George Kittle's Possible Return and Fantasy Expectations in Week 9

Jimmy Garoppolo bounced back with a big game during last week's homecoming in Chicago, finishing as the No. 2 fantasy QB in Week 8. Jimmy G has more rushing scores this season than Lamar Jackson, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey. Still, Garoppolo is tough to rank as a top-15 fantasy QB in Week 9 facing a strong Arizona pass defense that ranks No. 2 in DVOA and has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Moreover, fewer points need to be projected with Kyler Murray either missing this game or hobbled while dealing with a "legitimate" ankle sprain.

Elijah Mitchell has missed practice this week with a rib injury, but assuming he's good to go, he's a top-10 fantasy RB as San Francisco's clear feature back. The rookie has been given 36 of the team's 42 carries over the last two weeks. More targets would be nice for Mitchell's fantasy value, but he leads all running backs in the NFL in yards after contact per attempt and explosive carry (10-plus yards) rate. The Cardinals have arguably the league's most improved defense this season but have lost J.J. Watt, and Sunday's game script could prove favorable for San Francisco should Murray sit. Mitchell looks like fantasy football's best waiver wire pickup of 2021.

Say Cheese

49ers players got back on the field at the SAP Performance Facility to start preparations for the team's NFC West divisional matchup vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

75 for 75

"75 for 75" is an article series from the 49ers Museum highlighting moments in the team's history as part of the franchise's 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2021.

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October 1, 1961

It did not take long for defensive back Jimmy Johnson to make his mark with the 49ers.

In his third NFL game, Johnson picked off Detroit Lions quarterback Jim Ninowski's pass and returned it 32 yards to end a scoring threat. It also started Johnson's reign as the 49ers first great shutdown cornerback.

Read all of the entries in the 49ers Museum's 75 for 75 series at 49ers.com/museumstories.

Quick Hits

With a 95.6 overall grade, 49ers left tackle Trent Williams is the highest-graded offensive player in the NFL through the first eight weeks of the 2021 season, per Pro Football Focus.

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From The Bay to Nashville, country recording artist Cam reps her roots wherever she goes. Get to know the GRAMMY nominated singer/songwriter in the latest Verified Faithful, presented by Levi's®. Watch the full episode below 👇

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Deebo Samuel is off to a historic start in his third season with the San Francisco 49ers and his efforts aren't going unnoticed. Following his Week 8 outing against the Chicago Bears, Samuel earned his first-ever NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor. Read More >>>

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