TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 8: San Francisco 49ers At Arizona Cardinals

49ers
Cardinals
Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter on October 18, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals v Minnesota Vikings
Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter on October 18, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner Alex Smith has been poor in back-to-back games against the Giants and the Seahawks. The 49ers might be concerned because Smith could not bounce back after the Niners were dominated by the defending Super Bowl champions. Smith is a good quarterback who looked great earlier in the year. He may be suffering from a loss of confidence at this point.
The Cardinals were forced to go with John Skelton in the Week Seven loss to the Vikings. Skelton does not have a lot of quickness and can’t dance away from pressure, and that’s a huge issue against the hard-charging 49ers.
Offense
Winner The 49ers play old-school football because they want to beat you up on both sides of the ball. Few running backs in football can dole out more punishment than Frank Gore. He gets help from Kendall Hunter. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis are two of Smith’s favorite targets. Mario Manningham did not play against Seattle as a result of a shoulder injury and his status has not been determined for this game.
The Cardinals are going to try to take pressure off of Skelton by running the ball with LaRod Stephens-Howling. He ran for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. Larry Fitzgerald is a game-breaking wide receiver and Andre Roberts complements Fitzgerald very well.
Defense
Winner The 49ers are going to try to set the tone early by coming after Skelton. He does not have the escape-ability to get away from pass rushers like Aldon Smith (5.5 sacks) and Ahmad Brooks (3.0 sacks). Patrick Willis sets the tone for the defense with his strength and hitting ability while NaVorro Bowman is a tackling machine who can dominate the line of scrimmage.
The Cardinals may not have as much talent as the 49ers on the defensive side of the ball, but they play hard and have a couple of solid players in linebacker Daryl Washington (6.0 sacks) and defensive end Calais Campbell (2.0 sacks). Defensive back Patrick Peterson is a game-changing player with three interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
Special Teams
Winner David Akers has the leg strength to hit from 60 yards or closer, but he has been a tad erratic this season. Punter Andy Lee has good leg strength and is a solid directional kicker. Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams are solid return men.
Winner The Cardinals know that Jay Feely can hit long field goals when the game is on the line. Dave Zastudil is a good but not great punter. Peterson can be a huge difference maker returning punts.

The Winner Is

Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter on October 18, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Winner 49ers
4 out of 4

The 49ers are clearly one of the better teams in the NFL, but they are still shaken by their one-sided loss two weeks ago to the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Smith is coming off two consecutive substandard games. The Cardinals are hurting, but a big game here could get them going in the right direction again.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: Houston Texans At Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Texans have been pushing hard in recent weeks and nearly got the best of the Cowboys and the Colts, but they couldn’t get past either one.

  2. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images) (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: San Francisco 49ers At Denver Broncos

    The 49ers have gotten off to a halting start this year, and they have not played their best football even in the games they have won.

  3. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: New York Giants At Dallas Cowboys

    Eli Manning and the Giants took it on the chin in their Week Six loss at Philadelphia, and they won’t have any time to sit back and feel sorry for themselves in this game at Dallas.

See All Tales of the Tape
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 53,999 other followers