Arizona heads to Santa Clara to take on the defending NFC champions and divisional opponent San Francisco 49ers in one of the three later-slated Sunday afternoon games in the opening weekend of the 2020 NFL season. Arizona finished last in the NFC West with a 5-10-1 record in 2019. Meanwhile, top-seed San Francisco went 13-3 and lost in Super Bowl LIV to the Chiefs. Both teams look to start 1-0 in what once again looks to be a loaded division. You can find the live odds movement and historical breakdown of matchups on the San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals matchup page.
Date: Sunday, September 13th, 2020
Time: 3:25 PM CT
Location: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, California
TV Coverage: FOX
San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals Live Stream
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San Francisco 49ers: D. Samuel (foot) O, B. Aiyuk (leg) Q, G. Kittle (hamstring) Q, F. Warner (COVID LIST) O, N. Bosa (hamstring) Q, A. Armstead (back) Q, D. Greenlaw (concussion) Q,
Arizona Cardinals: K. Drake (leg) Q, M. Williams (NFI) Q
San Francisco 49ers Analysis
After going 13-3 and losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, the road to redemption for the San Francisco 49ers begins at home against the Arizona Cardinals. Despite a handful of key losses, the 49ers enter the season returning most starters and are still one of the favorites in the NFC.
Despite some personnel shifts, expect a similar formula in 2020 for San Francisco’s run-first offense led by offensive-minded head coach Kyle Shanahan. While the defense received much praise in 2019, only the Baltimore Ravens scored more points on offense than San Francisco. However, they’re not without question marks. Legendary left tackle Joe Staley retired and was replaced by trading for Trent Williams, who sat out in 2019 over contract negotiations with Washington. Their leading wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, departed in free agency to New Orleans. Expected to replace him is second-year wide receiver Deebo Samuel, however, he’s recovering from foot surgery and his status for week one is in question. That leaves Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, and Brandon Aiyuk at wide receiver as Deebo rehabs from surgery. Matt Breida was traded to Miami, but Shanahan still has a plethora of running backs with Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, and Jeff Wilson Jr.
Spending high draft capital on the defensive side of the ball finally paid off for San Francisco in 2019. Their feared front seven led a defense that allowed the eighth fewest points in the NFL, and they were top-10 in both sacks and quarterback pressures. Despite trading DeForest Buckner to Miami, San Francisco used the first-round pick they received in return on star defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. Outside of Buckner, the 49ers defense will feature five of their first-round draft picks going back to Jimmie Ward in 2014 (Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw), as well as 2018 third-round pick Fred Warner and 2015 second-round pick Jaquiski Tartt. Despite having his name tossed around for head coaching considerations, Robert Saleh returned for his fourth year as defensive coordinator.
San Francisco 49ers Depth Chart
Arizona Cardinals Analysis
Despite a 5-10-1 season in 2019, and four straight seasons failing to finish above .500, a talented, young quarterback will always generate excitement and surround an organization with hope. Just a year after drafting Josh Rosen 10th overall, the Arizona Cardinals went 3-13 and selected the Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray first overall.
Murray showed flashes of brilliance in 2019, throwing for nearly 4000 yards while tossing 20 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. He also put up 544 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The big news was the acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals swapped David Johnson for the star wide receiver, who will play alongside veteran Larry Fitzgerald and the talented Christian Kirk. Many are excited about Kenyan Drake as well, who excelled with the Cardinals after coming over from Miami midseason in 2019. The biggest question for Arizona was the consistency of the offensive line: Murray was sacked 48 times in 2019, tied for highest in the league. It was lightyears better than it was in 2018, but still below average. However, they showed improvement throughout the season and produced solid rushing numbers for midseason addition Kenyan Drake. They’ll return four 2019 starters and get Marcus Gilbert back from an ACL tear.
If only Murray could make an impact on both sides of the ball. While the offense showed real promise in 2019, the Cardinals’ defensive unit was one of the worst in the league. They allowed the fifth most points, the most yards, and were in the bottom half in sacks. The need for defensive difference makers was not lost on the Cardinals, they used four of their six draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. Most notably, LB Isiah Simmons out of Clemson with the eighth overall pick. Simmons, playing alongside sack-machine Chandler Jones and recently extended Budda Baker, have the makings of an incredibly versatile and scary defensive core that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph can certainly get creative with. If the defensive unit can take a step forward in 2020, the Cardinals could make a a playoff-push in 2020’s expanded playoff format.
Arizona Cardinals Depth Chart
Betting Corner 49ers -7
Spread: Arizona Cardinals + 7 / San Francisco 49ers -7
Moneyline: Arizona Cardinals + 265 / San Francisco 49ers -365
The line has remained where it opened, with the 49ers as the favored team to win at -7. Last year, the 49ers were 3-4-1 against the spread at home, and the Cardinals were 5-1-2 against the spread on the road. However, it remains to be seen if the splits on spread outcomes are warped in 2020 without fans.
Currently, the 49ers have more to worry about injury-wise. They are likely without top wide receiver Deebo Samuel for week one, as well as starting linebacker Fred Warner. George Kittle has been nursing a hamstring injury, and three other players from the front seven have missed practice lately (Bosa, Armstead, Greenlaw). In the worst-case scenario, the 49ers could have a depleted squad in week one without many of their stars.
Daily Fantasy Picks
Keep an eye on the hamstring injury designation given to Kittle. Other than that, Kittle is a must-start in all formats. Kittle once again showed he belonged with Travis Kelce in the tier of elite tight ends, finishing top-three for the second straight year after finishing with 85 receptions, 1053 yards, and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Cardinals allowed 14 touchdowns to the tight end position in 2019, four more than the next closes team. Expecting yet another year of leading the team in targets, and a matchup against the Cardinals, makes Kittle an excellent play.
With Matt Breida out of the picture, Raheem Mostert stands to be the primary beneficiary in one of the best running offenses in the league. San Francisco’s backfield is an exciting proposition for fantasy, but Shanahan’s propensity to utilize a plethora of running backs scares some people away. It took until week twelve, but Mostert clearly took over as the favorite last year. From weeks 12 through 16, Mostert averaged 14 touches per game, scored seven total touchdowns, and was on the field for almost 60-percent of snaps.
Kendrick Bourne was fourth on the team in targets in 2019 behind George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, and Deebo Samuel. Kittle will get his, but Sanders is gone and Samuel is likely out recovering from foot surgery. That leaves Kendrick Bourne as a potential high-target player. Keep in mind, Bourne was still north of 10 yards per reception in 2019 and was tied with Kittle for the team-lead in touchdown receptions at five. Defensive finishes always turn year after year, but Arizona finished as one of the ten worst teams against the wide receiver position last year. In deeper leagues, if Samuel is out, Bourne is a sneaky play that likely has a decent floor in PPR formats.
The fantasy community is a bit divided on DeAndre Hopkins in 2020. He’s arguably the most talented wide receiver in football and will lead a high-octane offense in targets, but will he get the targets to be worth his high ADP? Kliff Kingsbury’s offense was a bit less centralized than Houston’s has been with Hopkins. Larry Fitzgerald led the team in targets with 109, followed closely by Christian Kirk at 108, both of whom are still on the team. Drake, Edmonds, KeeSean Johnson, Maxx Williams, and Dan Arnold stand to siphon targets away from the top three wide receivers as well. Meanwhile, Hopkins hasn’t received less than 127 targets for six straight seasons with Houston. Will Kingsbury and Murray flood Hopkins with the ball as much as Houston did? Either way, Hopkins is a must-start in all formats.
Drake’s trade to Arizona may have unleashed a monster. From weeks 10 through 17, while with the Cardinals, he was a top-10 running back in fantasy. From weeks 13 through 17, he was the number three fantasy running back. When the Cardinals traded David Johnson to acquire DeAndre Hopkins, and gave Drake almost $8.5 million to play in 2020, it became clear they believe in the former Dolphin to continue as the feature running back in the offense. While the matchup is not great, San Francisco was the fourth-best DST against the running back position, Kenyan Drake is a must-start in fantasy.