49ers vs. Cardinals Week 11 Scouting Report: Grades and Key Matchups

49ers vs. Cardinals Week 11

This Scouting Report for Monday night’s 49ers vs. Cardinals game is produced by The 33rd Team’s Scouting Department, led by former Eagles, Cardinals and Ravens personnel executive T.J. McCreight and assisted by scouts Justin Casey, Kevin Cohn and Evan Pritt.

Nick Bosa vs. Cardinals’ OTs

  • Nick Bosa plays a key role in a defense that has allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards (1,781), the lowest rushing yards (744), lowest yards per carry (3.4) and fourth-most sacks (29). With the elevated play of others, Bosa’s been freed up some while registering the second-most pressures (45) and sacks (9) in the league. His 25.4% win rate ranks third among all defenders, giving you a glimpse of how successful a rusher Bosa is and the impact he can have wrecking opposing offenses.
  • Bosa’s one of the few rushers in the game with elite talent, and one that can win with speed and power. His athletic stance allows him to explode off the line, covering ground in the blink of an eye. He’s quick to get on a blocker’s edge with bend to dip and rip while creating a path towards the QB. His array of rush moves and counters allow Bosa to puncture pockets by working through blockers or tightly off of them. His play is no different vs. the run, utilizing his strength to strike, sit and set the edge, discarding when needed and closing on carriers with short area quicks.
  • The Cardinals’ offense has been adequate so far this year, scoring the 13th-most points per game (23) and having the 11th-best red zone scoring offense (60%). It hasn’t been all perfect though, especially with the OL, which has allowed the eighth-most sacks (27) this season. OTs Kelvin Beachum and D.J. Humphries have had their issues in particular, with Beachum giving up the seventh-most pressures (28) and his counterpart, Humphries, allowing 15 himself.
  • Beachum’s a short-statured OT whose lack of length and inconsistent pad level/footwork gives way for defenders to take him for a ride. He benefits most when able to short set and attach early, allowing him to impede the progress of a rusher. Marginal leverage in the run hinders ability to uproot defenders at the point of attack, and Beachum will instead look to wall off.
  • Humphries is the more athletic of the bunch with good size and length. Though a tick slow with his strike timing, Humphries flashes the strength, core and lowers to absorb rushers and slowly bleed ground. If worked towards an edge, he’ll latch and look to wash past the pocket. In the run game, he tends to lean into blocks, getting discarded if leverage isn’t established. He’s most successful covering up with his frame or when chipping up towards second level fits.
  • Overall, when facing Bosa, you can slow him, but rarely can you stop him. He has an innate ability to expose OTs and amplify their weaknesses when playing them out on an island. He’s a high-caliber game-changer and someone that can impact the success of an offense. Look for him to add to his sack total vs. the Cardinals.

DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore vs. Charvarious Ward and Jimmie Ward

  • DeAndre Hopkins, in only four games, has 36 catches for an 11-yard average and two touchdowns. Rondale Moore has 41 catches for an average of 10.1 yards and one touchdown. Moore has the longest reception for the Cardinals this year at only 38 yards.
  • Charvarious Ward has 46 total tackles, nine passes defensed and one interception. Jimmie Ward, through four games, has 11 total tackles.
  • The Cardinals are 18th in the NFL passing for 220.6 yards passing per game and 13th scoring 23 points per game. The 49ers are eighth in the league giving up 197.9 yards passing per game and fourth in the league giving up only 18.1 points per game.
  • Mainly an outside threat, Hopkins will use his size and strength to rough up defenders. He is a short-striding, athletic wide receiver that is a good route runner, showing off his feet, balance, and body control. He has some subtle things he does to create separation as he can get corners to open their hips and commit to the route.
  • Hopkins will do some body catching, but he has very good hands and competes for contested balls. He is very aware at the sideline and his hands and feet work together very well.
  • After the catch he knows where the first down marker is and will use his size, strength, and toughness to fight to the marker.
  • He runs well enough, but he does not have big-time, ‘wow’ explosiveness. Hopkins is not an easy player to cover because not only is he physically gifted, but he is very savvy and natural from snap to whistle.
  • Rondale Moore, at only 5-foot-7, compensates for his lack of size with his explosiveness, quickness, and ability to go after the football. He will play inside and outside, and they clearly work to get him a favorable matchup on defenders.
  • Moore ran low 4.3 at his pro day and some scouts even had him in the high 4.2s. This is a very explosive player that hits his top speed quickly. He needs very little runway and is fast out of the blocks.
  • Very good route runner that can bend, come in and out of his cuts and can create separation with ease.
  • He will have some drops, but you really have to look past them. This player has natural hands and has a lot of confidence in his ability to snatch the football. He can pluck the ball out of the air without gearing down or gathering.
  • Usually, short wideouts leave their feet or jump when they don’t have to do so. Moore keeps balanced and keeps his feet on the ground and usually does not trap the ball with his body.
  • Moore can be dangerous after the catch because of his explosiveness. He has the quickness and lateral ability to make people miss in the open field and can pull away and separate. He is tough, but he does not have the size or strength to consistently break tackles. That is just not his game.
  • This Cardinal passing attack should be more productive than it has been thus far this year. If I were a defensive coordinator, I would have serious concerns about covering the speed and explosiveness of Moore and the size and strength of Hopkins, but this offense seems choppy and out of sync.
  • For the 49ers, Jimmie Ward will mainly play inside over the slot. He has enough speed and overall movement skills in coverage and is physical enough to battle tight ends.
  • Ward is good in run support and has some pop on contact. I also like his instincts and awareness in coverage.
  • Charvarious Ward mainly plays on the left side and outside. He has very good size and overall movement skills. Strong hands in press and has the hips to open up and run.
  • I really like Ward on plays in front. He can plant, drive, and get his hands on the football.

Talanoa Hufanga vs. Budda Baker

  • Baker and Hufanga have been two of the better safeties in football this year. Baker was a known commodity, but Hufanga has burst onto the season as a first-year starter. Both of them play with visible passion and exuberance for the game. They both play with rare instincts and a physicality beyond their physical dimensions much like their mentors: Troy Polamalu for Hufanga and Tyrann Mathieu for Budda Baker.
  • Baker is ranked first in fewest yards per coverage snap allowed and Hufanga is tied for 10th.
  • At 26, Baker is already in his sixth season. He entered the league as a second-round pick, with the only question being how his body would hold up given his lack of size combined with a relentless physical style of play. As a rookie, He made the Pro Bowl as a special-teamer while he was mentored by Mathieu. He has a very similar play style and took over for Mathieu in 2018. He has had over 100 tackles each of the last four seasons and made the Pro Bowl as a safety each of the last three seasons. He leads the team in tackles with 75 this season. His commitment and toughness were on display last week as he managed to play 80% of the defensive snaps when it looked like he would be out several weeks with an ankle injury. He is very versatile. He can line up in the box, deep, or in the slot, and be effective in any alignment. He does a good job tackling ball carriers low and wrapping up their legs while delivering a blow. His change of direction and awareness show when he locates ball carriers and makes the play from his blitz assignments.
  • Hufanga was just a fifth-round pick out of USC, but he was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-American. He was mentored by Trojan legend Troy Polamalu leading up to the draft, and his frenetic play style is eerily reminiscent of Polamalu. The questions with him coming out were his average timed speed and durability concerns due to his reckless play style. While he backed up as a rookie in 2021, there was a lot of talk in the preseason that the coaching staff was very confident in what he would do when he stepped into the starting role this season. He has more than lived up to any hype he received, and he has filled up the stat sheet. He is third on the team in tackles with 50, he leads them with four interceptions (tied for third in the NFL) and he has five tackles for loss and seven passes defensed. Hufanga doesn’t have quite the burst of Baker, but he plays with outstanding anticipation and has a rare ability to react to deflected balls. Hufanga is more likely to deliver a blow with a shoulder rather than wrap up.
  • Baker has blitzed more than any other DB in the league this year with 42. He hasn’t gotten home as much this year, but he has a real knack for dipping and slipping blockers at speed. While the 49ers don’t blitz as much as the Cardinals, Hufanga has blitzed 18 times and they have an identical 16.7% pressure rate. Hufanga does a better job disguising when he is coming, but he is not as slippery at defeating blocks.
  • Both players had game sealing interceptions last week, and they play with a passion and aggressiveness that is fun to watch. If there is a game changing play to be made this week, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of these guys is somehow involved.

Extra Points

  • These two NFC West rivals return to Mexico City where they met in the first ever NFL regular season game outside of the U.S in 2005, with the Cardinals winning 31-14 in front of over 103,000 fans.
  • If Kyler Murray can’t go, Colt McCoy did lead the Cardinals to a 30-17 win over Jimmy G and the 49ers last season.
  • The Cardinals’ defense has scored a league leading four TDs this season while allowing the third-most points in the league (25.1 per game).

49ers’ Keys to Victory

  • Spread the ball around to their vast array of playmakers without getting bogged down trying to keep everyone happy.
  • Keep the Cardinals’ offense behind the sticks. They have been poor on third and medium-to-long situations and haven’t shown the ability to make big plays down the field.

Cardinals’ Keys to Victory

  • Create some explosive plays for Rondale Moore and use his speed down the field.
  • Their top playmakers on defense need to outplay the 49ers’ offensive playmakers.
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