The 49ers in Week 8 are on the road to face the Arizona Cardinals for the second time in three weeks. In their last matchup, San Francisco failed to get the ball moving on offense and came away with a loss. But this time around could be different.
The Cardinals have made a coaching change this week, opting to fire offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and let the former NFL quarterback Byron Leftwich take the reins. Leftwich has been praised by many coaches around the league, but it’s tough to set a game plan and execute it after taking over midseason as an OC for the first time.
Matt Breida also left the last matchup after the first quarter, but he was on his way to doing major damage against a bad Cardinals defense. When Breida left, he already had 50 rushing yards. After practicing on Friday, Breida (ankle) is on track to play Sunday, and he will be the key to the 49ers winning this upcoming matchup.
On the eve of the game, ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed the back will be active, but limited.
When Breida was in, he was getting into the open field and breaking big runs, which was allowing the offense to keep the chains moving. If the offense keeps earning first downs, then the 49ers’ defense will come out fresh and is more likely to get stops against Josh Rosen and the Cardinals’ offense.
The run above was from the 49ers’ first drive and it set up the play-action game.
Later in the drive, head coach and play-caller Kyle Shanahan was able to get creative and dial up two fullback screens to Kyle Juszczyk off of play-actions to Breida.
Breida capped the drive off with a designed shovel pass inside the five-yard line that went for a touchdown. When the offense is balanced, Shanahan is able to use all of his playbook to keep the opponent on their heels.
Even when backed up on their own five-yard line, the 49ers chose to hand it off to Breida to get them out of bad field position. The young running back used his vision and patience to get the first down and more.
Arizona struggled to stop the run and the 49ers need to stick to their strength in hopes of preventing the unnecessary turnovers that lost them the game last time. If C.J. Beathard is able to use the play action to get into a rhythm, the 49ers have a chance to break their winless streak and come out victorious on the road over a division opponent.
Media courtesy Chris Victorio/SF Examiner, NFL