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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury understands challenge of facing Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, speedy 49ers defense

Sep 10, 2020 at 10:33 AM--

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury knows he has a difficult task ahead of him on Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals visit Levi's Stadium to open the season against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.

The Cardinals finished last season with just five wins, which was last in the NFC West. They've upgraded their offense, adding players like wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and bolstered their defense with young talent like rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons.

And, of course, there is always pass rusher Chandler Jones, who the 49ers have to find a way to stop.

Left tackle Trent Williams started studying ways to stop Jones when the NFL schedule was released in May.

"Me and him had some epic battles, and we've went back and forth a few times," Williams said last week. "But there's a lot of tape for me to study on me and him, and our matchups. I didn't waste any time. I just started to go over and look at it again. It's frustrating because he's a rusher with it all, so no matter how much you study him, there's still that X-factor that he can get you with. That's what makes him so good."

Kingsbury hopes that his squad can take the leap from being that scrappy team that gives the opposition fits to one that can win more football games.

"We're playing the best team in the NFC," Kingsbury said on Wednesday. "They were 10 minutes away from winning the Super Bowl, so we know we have a huge challenge. I like how we've progressed. I just think there will be some settling-in qualities to that start of the game."

Kingsbury knows that it will be tough to slow down the 49ers' fast and physical defense. That includes the team's pass rushers off the edge — Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.

"Those are two of the best rushers in the game," Kingsbury explained. "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."

The Cardinals coach is equally impressed with the defensive unit that Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, and Robert Saleh have built in Santa Clara. The defense includes numerous players who can quickly close in on the football.

"Those linebackers, they can all fly," Kingsbury said. "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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