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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury praises Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, 49ers offense, defense

Sep 9, 2020 at 7:45 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to open the 2020 season on Sunday by hosting the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium. Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury jumped on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday morning and discussed the upcoming matchup between the two division opponents.

Below are some key 49ers-related topics the Cardinals coach hit during the discussion.

On the idea that the Cardinals drafted Isaiah Simmons to stop George Kittle

Kliff Kingsbury: "Yeah, I don't know if there is a George Kittle stopper, from what I've seen. I mean, he's pretty much dominated over the last couple of years, no matter what people have thrown at him, whether it's doubling him or trying to put their best cover guy (on him), whether it's a corner or whoever. He's such a tremendous talent. We thought Isaiah was the best value for our team at that time. There were a lot of good players at that eighth pick, no question, but just overall, what we needed, whether it was in conference or not, we needed to get better at defending tight ends in the pass game in general."

More on George Kittle

KK: "When you watch him, the thing that I love is his intensity. I mean, him and (Travis) Kelce and Gronk, they play with such an intensity whether it's blocking or running. You can see Kittle's passion for the game. He's excited when other guys make plays, and his teammates feed off that. He is a tremendous talent. He's going to go down, I think, as one of the best ever, if he stays healthy. Like I said earlier, I haven't seen anybody stop him. No matter what they try to do to him, he finds a way to get open."

On Jimmy Garoppolo making a jump in 2020

KK: "Both times we've played Jimmy, just touching on that, he was awesome. He played as good as anybody played against us all year in both games. So I'm a big fan of his. I think he's a special talent."

On facing a 49ers offense without having any preseason film

KK: "That's the tough part of no preseason, having to deal with that. Kyle does such a tremendous job of changing things up, and he's one of the most creative play-callers I've ever seen, the way he gets those guys the ball in the screen game, the run game. So that will be a unique challenge. We're going to have to really stick to our fundamentals and know where everybody's at. ... They picked up some serious talent in (Brandon) Aiyuk and (Jordan) Reed, and then Trent Taylor. ... I know he's healthy and playing good. (Kendrick) Bourne is another guy who's stepped up. When you watch the film from last year, he made a lot of big plays for them. Their running backs are as deep as anybody in the league. It will be a real challenge."

Impact of facing Nick Bosa and Dee Ford

KK: "Those are two of the best rushers in the game. Nick is tremendous. He had an incredible year last year, just got better and better. And I'm sure going into year two, the game will slow down for him tremendously. And then Dee, he probably has the best get-off of anybody we played against last year when you're talking about getting off the ball and getting home. We have to account for those guys each and every snap. You can't stop them, but you just hope to slow them down enough to get some throws off. But they are tremendous talents."

On going against the 49ers' defensive speed

KK: "Those linebackers, they can all fly. You think you have open space, and they almost kind of dare you into it, and then it's gone because they can get there so quickly. The front, if you've got to hold the ball at all, it's over. The corners get their hands on you, and they're physical and smart and tough. And the safeties are flying upfield. It's just kind of the perfect match. They build that thing over the last three years with the same scheme in place, and those guys play confidently. They play fast. It's impressive to watch."

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