What We Saw: Week 5

Alvin Kamara looked like the Alvin Kamara we all know and love

49ers @ Cardinals

Final Score: Cardinals 17, 49ers 10

Writer: Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

 

Despite the low score, this game had a lot of action. Trey Lance proved to be a dual-threat QB with a cannon for an arm, Kyler Murray displayed his elusiveness and cohesion with the offense, James Conner ran harder than he has in years, and DeAndre Hopkins is still a bad, bad man. The problem was that both offenses also had a propensity for drive-killing mistakes. Every time Arizona was marching down to get into scoring range, the 49ers’ defensive line would make a play and take down Murray for a big loss or break up a play before it began. The 49ers couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. Just on their first drive of the second half, the 49ers committed three separate holding calls, one of which negated a big first down run by Lance. Ultimately, Arizona was able to knock out a long drive late and the connection of Murray to Hopkins proved too much to handle when the game was on the line. The Cardinals earned the hard-fought win, 17-10.

 

San Francisco 49ers

 

Quarterback

 

Trey Lance: 15/29, 192 yards, INT | 16 carries, 89 yards

 

Trey Lance season is already a lot of fun. He had a great feel for the pocket and this time out he threw the ball a lot better. I don’t mean in terms of making more plays, I mean he literally threw the ball better. One concern was that he has been throwing wobbly passes, such as the end zone throw to George Kittle last week, and this week he showed massive improvement. In the early 2nd quarter, Lance was able to hit Brandon Aiyuk for six yards on a stop route and it was a thing of beauty; perfect spiral, placement, and speed. He has a long way to go as his delivery was a bit too deliberate. He had a wind-up that allowed the Cardinals’ defensive line to knock down multiple passes at the line of scrimmage, adding to the 3rd down inefficiencies.

As a runner, you couldn’t ask for more. He showed great vision and his command of the RPO was far more polished than you would expect from someone in their first NFL start. He is elusive, hard to tackle, and for better or for worse, isn’t afraid to run hard and take the hit to make the play. Though the result was a turnover on downs inside the Arizona one yard line, Lance took the 4th down boot to the outside and with three defenders meeting him at the goal line, he put his head down and attempted to plow through for the score. He may not have gotten in, but his toughness and desire to help the team win were on full display.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Elijah Mitchell: 9 carries, 43 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards

Kyle Juszczyk: 1 carry, 0 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 35 yards

Trey Sermon: 1 carry, 7 yards

 

Keeping with the 49ers theme, Elijah Mitchell has a lot to learn. He seems incapable of being on the correct side for a handoff for a complete game. He was also responsible for a couple of big hits on Lance because he was unable to affect the defensive players with his lack of a sell. Both of these have been problems since preseason camps.  There were some positives as well, though. He saw the holes opening a bit better in this game. His style was more of a one-cut with speed, and it resembled Raheem Mostert at times. He also played well in the passing game with his two targets and had a couple of big blocks.

Kyle Juszczyk was used primarily in the passing game and reeled in every catchable target. He also gave us quite the fullback hurdle. Trey Sermon had just the one carry and was not in the game much as both seem to be a redundancy to Lance for inside runs.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Deebo Samuel: 9 targets, 3 reception, 58 yards | 1 carry, 13 yards, TD

Brandon Aiyuk: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 32 yards

Ross Dwelley: 2 targets, 2 reception, 25 yards

Mohamed Sanu Sr: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards

Charlie Woerner: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

Travis Benjamin:  3 targets

 

Going from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance is going to be a huge adjustment for these receivers and they did an admirable job tonight for being short-handed. George Kittle was put on IR this week, on his birthday no less, and it’s clear where they miss him. The pressure was coming in all night against Lance and his presence in the blocking game, and in the play-action game especially, was missed. Each receiver had ups and downs today. Mohamed Sanu and Deebo Samuel both dropped passes in high leverage situations though Deebo was able to score on a 13-yard sweep in which Trent Williams put on a blocking clinic. He is the LT, number 71, and a man that size should not be able to move around like that. Ross Dwelley was mostly invisible as were Charlie Woerner and Travis Benjamin, though Benjamin was able to draw a DPI on a 3rd down incompletion to keep a drive alive.

 

 

Arizona Cardinals

 

Quarterback

 

Kyler Murray: 22/31, 239 yards, TD | 7 carries, 1 yard

 

While not as effective as we’ve seen in the rest of his MVP front-running campaign, Kyler Murray was good enough to get the win. Though nothing further has been confirmed, it was reported that after he took a sack near the end of the first half, he was examined for a sore arm and was also seen stretching it out, but ultimately was fine. It may just be worth monitoring as practices start.

Murray was sloppy at times, his elusiveness worked against him as he fell into San Fran’s contain scheme and was dropped or hurried for big losses and misfires, converting on only three of 10 first downs. It was also his greatest weapon as big passes to Hopkins and Rondale Moore were set up by Murray extending the plays. His sideline pass to Moore will be on many highlight reels.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Chase Edmonds: 6 carries, 15 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 19 yards

James Conner: 10 carries, 29 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards

 

This run game was never the focal point of the offense, as it typically will not be when you have Kyler Murray. However, both backs were effective when called upon. Chase Edmonds was used primarily in the passing game and was desperately needed in the 2nd quarter. On the very next play after the big gain to Moore on the sideline, Edmonds recovered a Murray fumble on the shotgun snap and ran it for 7 yards. It was impressive awareness on his part and you see why they trust him to be out there on big downs. The Cardinals passed a lot on first down, especially early on, and that led to short gains that Conner picked up or more passing downs. He just didn’t fit the flow of the game very well and came in with a banged up shoulder, possibly explaining the carry discrepancy.

James Conner did not vulture this touchdown. Often the complaint in timeshare backfields is this very thing but Conner earned this touchdown today. He converted multiple 3rd downs earlier in the drive and was consistent in picking these up all game. It’s odd that someone his size is being used in this capacity, but he has been effective so you can’t argue the results.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

DeAndre Hopkins: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 87 yards, TD

A.J. Green: 2 targets, 1 reception, 13 yards

Christian Kirk: 5 targets, 5 reception, 39 yards | 1 carry, 11 yards

Rondale Moore: 6 targets, 5 reception, 59 yards | 3 carries, 38 yards

Maxx Williams: 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards

 

This team plays incredibly fast. Hopkins showed off that he has the best hands, as is to be expected, but it’s clearly difficult to keep up with Christian Kirk and Moore, when not also following around Chase Edmonds. Nuk did have a quiet 6/87/1 line as most of his damage was done on the late drive which he topped off with a contested touchdown catch over the shoulder of Josh Norman. Christian Kirk played well again, though outside of designed plays, he wasn’t able to create much after the catch when compared to previous weeks.

Rondale Moore is completely unpredictable. He took carries out of the backfield that made him seem like he should be the lead back, grabbed some basic slant patterns, and managed to somehow reign in a sideline catch that the play by play had almost instantly ruled out, as did the refs. His comfort as he grows into the offense is showing, and his instant rapport with Murray is continuing to provide him with high leverage targets. A.J. Green was only targeted a couple of times outside of penalties and was never really a factor. Maxx Williams was the unfortunate casualty this game as he took a helmet to the knee and was carted off the field. Before he left, the entire Cardinals team came over to see him off the field. Wishing the best for Maxx on a speedy recovery, but it does not seem promising for the remainder of the year.

 

 

Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

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