*This report was done before seeing R.C.'s report, or R.C. seeing Ross's...
2020 Week 1 Analysis: Cardinals @ 49'ers (By Ross Jacobs)
-I knew the final score when I started watching this replay, but I honestly did not expect to see what I saw on tape. It's also entirely possible I'm misinterpreting what I saw. Some reports are saying the 49'ers allowed the Cardinals to hang around and score a late TD to steal the game, but what I saw was the 49'ers mostly get outplayed, and that's even with the Cardinals constantly shooting themselves in the foot. I don't think this was a lucky win by the Cardinals. I think they just went in and beat a very good but not great 49'er team.
-For a long time the Cardinals offense looked very similar to last year's team. They were moving the ball well, but would end drives with stupid penalties or Kyler Murray taking a sack because the blocking was so bad. But then in the 2nd half Kyler started running and the dynamic changed. Suddenly the 49'ers couldn't stop them. Every time they got pressure on him, Kyler would take off down the field for a first down. This is the recipe for success for the Cardinals. Let's see if Kingsbury recognizes it. If so the Cardinals offense is about to go nuclear, and every FFM'er should have Kyler Murray on their team.
-There were a lot of people mocking the Texans again after new Cardinals acquisition DeAndre Hopkins racked up a career high 14 catches in his debut, but that is a very shallow take. The reality was just about any receiver could have had the same 14 catches had they gotten the targets because it was all short dump passes and screens. Hopkins didn't do anything special here. Obviously he is capable of being a top playmaker, but this game wasn't one of those times regardless of his final stats.
-The Cardinals offense is death by a thousand paper cuts. They are going to complete short pass after short pass and dare defenses to tighten up coverage to stop them. Then they are going to either hit a deep ball over the top or Kyler is going to take off running. It didn't look terribly impressive here, but remember they did this damage against the top pass defense of 2019. They scored 24 points here, but it should have been 30 with the two missed field goals. Buckle up. The Kyler train could be about to take off.
-It's a small thing, but I thought Chase Edmonds looked better than starter Kenyan Drake. Probably won't matter, but if Drake does go down Edmonds is an instant RB1.
-Not an impressive display from the Niners on offense. I've been a Garoppolo fan in the past, but I'm beginning to think he's not nearly as good as I once thought. Seeing entirely too many silly mistakes from him.
-The rest of the offense looked fine. The blocking was excellent again, especially the run blocking. All three Niner RB's looked quick. They may have to pick up some of the pass catching load with so many receivers hurt and now possibly superstar TE George Kittle down too.
-The Cardinals defense doesn't look great, but they look much, much better than that disastrous 2019 unit. The run defense in particular is miles better. Rookie Isaiah Simmons may be an athletic freak, but he clearly has some learning to do as Raheem Mostert absolutely schooled him on an arrow pattern out of the backfield that Mostert took all the way for a TD.
-The 49'er defense looked ok enough though not at the same level as they were early last year. Nick Bosa is a stud and gave the Cardinals offensive line fits all day, but everyone else merely looks solid.
-I think we may see a big falloff from the 49'ers this year. They look more like a 9-7 team to me than the juggernaut of last season. The Cardinals on the other hand look ready to battle for the NFC West crown with the Seahawks. I think this squad could get to 10 or 11 wins and into the playoffs. It's only one game, but if Arizona figures out that letting Murray run more is the key to their offense then they could easily hit that mark. If not we're probably looking at around a .500 record for the Cardinals.
-I've already mentioned it, but I think it's Kyler Murray time! If you're trying to acquire him in your league though, remember to not overpay. I'm not saying get him at any cost. But if you can get him reasonably, do it.
-We all know Hopkins is a fantasy megastar. You start him every game and don't think about it.
-Don't touch any of the 49'ers RB's. They are in a timeshare and will be splitting carries. Just save yourself the headache.