The San Francisco 49ers were among the early surprises in the NFC West but they have emerged as one of the front-runners to reach the Super Bowl as they approach the halfway point of the season. Coming off their most impressive performance of the season, the surging 49ers look to remain perfect when they visit the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.
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San Francisco has permitted a scant 23 points over its past four games after bludgeoning visiting Carolina 51-13 on Sunday, but overconfidence is not an issue given it has lost eight in a row to the Cardinals. "We've got a short week this week," 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. "We haven't beat the Cardinals in I don't know how long -- since I've been here we haven't beat them. We've got a big challenge ahead." Arizona rebounded from an 0-3-1 start to the season by rattling off three victories in a row before coming back to earth in a 31-9 drubbing at New Orleans on Sunday. Thursday's matchup will offer an intriguing subplot, featuring a showdown between the top two picks in this year's NFL Draft: Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and 49ers defensive lineman Nick Bosa.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: 49ers -10. O/U: 42.5
ABOUT THE 49ERS (7-0): Bosa earned a spot in the history books last week by becoming the third rookie to record at least three sacks and an interception in one game since the sack became an official stat in 1982. "We ended up taking Kyler: We thought that was the best move for our organization," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said of the decision to take Murray at No. 1. "But we knew whoever was going to take Nick was going to get a dominant player in this league." San Francisco ranks fourth in sacks (27.0), is tied for second in interceptions (10) and allows a league-low 224.4 yards per game. Tight end George Kittle is the top target for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with 40 receptions while lead running back Tevin Coleman is coming off a four-touchdown game.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS (3-4-1): Arizona is dealing with some serious issues in the backfield due to injuries to its top two running backs, David Johnson and Chase Edmonds, which necessitated the acquisition of Kenyan Drake from Miami on Monday. "I think Kenyan can come in and do some things that can fit what we need right now," Kingsbury said of the 6-foot-1, 211-pound Drake, who rushed for 535 yards and had a career-high 53 receptions last season with the Dolphins. Murray, who is averaging 248.5 yards passing and has rushed for 279 yards, may need to use his legs more to elude San Francisco's ferocious pass rush. The Cardinals have registered 22.0 sacks but their defense ranks 29th overall, surrendering an average of 407.1 yards, including 130.1 rushing.
1. Arizona has limited San Francisco to 18 points or fewer in the past four meetings.
2. Bosa has seven sacks in seven games and is tied with Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald for the league lead with 11 tackles for loss.
3. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald had eight catches for 102 yards and a TD in the last matchup.