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Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ 5 Keys to Victory vs. Cardinals

Dec 16, 2023 at 7:30 AM

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The first-place San Francisco 49ers head to Arizona to face a scrappy 3-10 Cardinals team. Since this is a divisional rival, expect the Cardinals to go down swinging. The 49ers have an opportunity to clinch the division with a win against the Cardinals, but if they want to do just that, they must stick to the Keys to Victory.

Stop the Run

The starting interior defensive front may look a little different due to the injuries of Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead. Javon Kinlaw and Kevin Givens must hold up front to allow linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw to fill the gaps to stop the run. The 49ers must beware of wide receiver Rondale Moore out of the backfield, who is responsible for 156 rushing yards.

The Cardinals rank ninth in rushing, averaging 123.9 yards per game. Running the ball is the strength of their team, so the 49ers must take away the run to make the Cardinals one-dimensional.

Contain Kyler Murray

The 49ers have been doing exceptionally well against mobile quarterbacks this season. The last mobile quarterback the team faced was Jalen Hurts, who rushed for 20 yards on seven carries and a rushing touchdown in the red zone in the Week 13 meeting.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has faced the 49ers five times, rushing for 268 yards and two touchdowns. When the pocket collapses in this game, expect Murray to utilize his running ability to extend plays. The 49ers must prepare for extended off-script plays, which can be substantial drive-killers, especially on third downs.

Keep Murray in the pocket and bring him down to the ground when the opportunity presents itself.

Limit The Explosive Plays on Defense

The 49ers remain one of the best teams in limiting explosive plays on the ground and in the air. The Cardinals have some speedsters out there in Marquise Brown and Greg Dortch. The defense needs to key in on tight end Trey McBride.

The 49ers tend not to give up touchdowns to tight ends, but they give up explosive plays to the position. On the ground, the 49ers must wrap and tackle to limit running back James Conner from gaining explosive runs of ten-plus yards. The first time these two teams met, the 49ers had three missed tackles. If the 49ers can limit the explosives in the air and on the ground, they will be victorious.

Be Efficient

Brock Purdy is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. In fact, against the Cardinals, Purdy is 2-0, 35 of 41 in passing attempts, and owns an 85.4 completion percentage. Purdy has thrown for four touchdowns and has a 146.0 passer rating.

In their last meeting, Purdy went 20 of 21 with a 95.2 completion percentage. He must continue to take what the defense gives him and remain efficient. Purdy seems to have his offense balanced and in rhythm. If he remains efficient, the 49ers will be able to run the ball, throw the ball, and control the clock.


The 49ers must look at this game as if the records are 0-0. The Cardinals may be 3-10, the inverse of the dominant 10-3 49ers, but they cannot overlook their opponent. The Cardinals are not mathematically out of the playoffs, and they won their last game on the road against the Steelers.

The Cardinals will come up to make a stand at State Farm's Stadium. The 49ers must stay focused. It's not about individual accolades. It's about keeping their team in the lead for the race for the number one seed. They must find a way to answer the call of any adversity they may face against the Arizona Cardinals.

In conclusion, record-wise and stat-wise, the 49ers are the superior team. In reality, this is a divisional game, so defeating the Cardinals won't be easy. If the 49ers stick to the Keys to Victory, they will clinch the NFC again and look to go undefeated in the division for the second straight year. They will remain number one in the NFL and be one game closer to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas.
  • Written by:
    Wayne Breezie is a 49ers content creator. He had his first guest appearance on Ronbosports in 2012. He began writing for a Facebook group called the League of the 49ers. Next, he began writing for Nothing But Niners in 2017. In 2018, Wayne Breezie made his debut on YouTube’s Nothing But Niners show. In 2019, he started his podcast called Nitty Gritty Niners. After putting the pen down for several years, Breezie saw an opportunity to write for His first published article was in January of 2022 with 49ersCap, and he currently writes and produces weekly podcasts.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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