The 49ers are hoping to get back on top in the NFC West. It’s not going to be an easy task during a rebuilding period. However, they can attain relative success and jump to second place.
It will be daunting as the Cardinals aren’t a team that will let that happen.
Looking at the Cardinals’ roster
At the quarterback position, Arizona has Carson Palmer. He is gaining a revitalization late in his career down in Phoenix. However, he could hit the wall soon with the USC product turning 38 by the end of December.
The thing that will help the former Heisman winner out the most is his offensive weapons. More specifically in the backfield with the premier running back, David Johnson. Johnson provides the right mix of power and speed to dominate opposing defenses.
The receiving unit isn’t anything far behind either even with the loss of Michael Floyd. The Cards still have future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald, and the newly drafted Chad Williams out of Grambling. All of the receivers provide lots of production in Bruce Arians’ Air Raid system (or as people should call it “Arians Raid System”).
The offensive line provides a lot of protection for the veteran quarterback. Especially with the former 49er, Mike Iupati.
The pass rush for the Cards is an underrated part of their game with the young talent of Robert Nkemdiche, Jarvis Jones, and Deone Buchanon.
However, the biggest move on the defense for this team is the drafting of inside linebacker, Haason Reddick. He will fill into the system where Karlos Dansby left it.
The biggest point of emphasis for teams when they look at Arizona is the secondary. It only seems to improve with each season after the signing of Antoine Bethea. That coupled with the presence of both Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson will make any opposing quarterback wary of passing.
Shanahan vs. Arians
Both of these coaches have provided success to already talented veterans. With Shanahan giving Matt Ryan an MVP season and Arians allowing Palmer to have a second wind during his long career.
It will be Shanahan’s first time as a head coach as he attempts to build upon his success. Arians, on the other hand, is looking to regain that same success he had back in 2015 when he took his Cardinals to a magical season.
Arians will most likely look to running the ball over passing with David Johnson’s success. Look to see Johnson build upon his pedigree as one of the league’s best running backs. Shanahan will most likely be attempting this same philosophy with Carlos Hyde.
It looks as if the NFC West division is turning into a division in which teams are reliant on running backs.
The 49ers’ Biggest Advantages over the Cardinals
The front seven for the 49ers is something that has improved immensely from last season. With the drafting of Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster, the 49ers are beginning to turn things around.
The 49ers’ Biggest Disadvantages to the Cardinals
Just about everything on the offensive side. Yes, Hyde is talented, but Johnson is on another level. Johnson had 20 touchdowns in 2016. Johnson produced over 2,000 yards of total offense.
Let’s not even forget about the passing attack. Palmer is greater than Hoyer (it’s not even close), and the Cardinals’ receivers have a slight advantage over the 49ers’ receivers because of the Fitzgerald.
The offensive line on both teams is on par with each other.
But, of course, the Arizona’s secondary is better. Some can argue that they have the best secondary in the league.
Are the 49ers better than the Cardinals?
The 49ers have a long way to go before they can be considered better than the Cardinals.
The team is on the right track, but they will need another season before this becomes a reality.