TEMPE, Ariz. -- The San Francisco 49ers enter Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals with three sacks, tied for second-worst in the NFL, and one less than Arizona outside linebacker Chandler Jones has by himself.
Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin knows San Francisco (0-3) will come to University of Phoenix Stadium hungry to boost that number Sunday. And there might not be a better team to do it against at the moment than the Cardinals (1-2).
“Everybody’s probably licking their chops to get to my offensive line right now,” Goodwin said Thursday. “I guess I got to coach better and we got to play better.”
But the Niners present a challenge for Arizona’s offensive line that's similar to what the Cowboys brought in Week 3: They’re tall, long and talented.
Three of the 49ers' defensive-line starters were first-round picks, and unit includes a pair of 6-foot-7 pass-rushers in defensive end Arik Armstead and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, and two 6-foot-3 guys in rookie defensive end Solomon Thomas and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell.
“The front seven jumps off the screen very, very quickly,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “Everybody can rush the passer. Everybody is a problem in the run game. Then you add NaVorro Bowman in the mix, who I felt for long time is one of the best linebackers in this league. He’s one of the best linebackers I’ve played against, and I’ve played against some really good ones.”
San Francisco got all three of their sacks and 11 of their 17 quarterback contacts in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. But the Niners only had one of the latter Sunday against the Rams.
Palmer has been sacked 11 times, tied for third among NFL quarterbacks, and hit 21 times.
Those numbers could increase Sunday because of the Niners’ style of pass rush.
“They’re a little bit taller and a little bit more shiftier, actually, than I think Dallas is,” Goodwin said. “You look at the tape, they don’t twist a whole lot. They’re trying to get to the quarterback on a one-on-one type situation so it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
Who the Cardinals will start across the offensive line is still yet to be determined. Both left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and left guard Mike Iupati (triceps) have been limited this week after missing the past two games. Guard Alex Boone, who started in place of Iupati in Weeks 2 and 3, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday with a pectoral injury. And tackle John Wetzel, who started in place of Humphries in Weeks 2 and 3 has been limited with a biceps injury.
With the Niners aiming to get after the quarterback, the Cardinals’ offensive line will have to have its best game yet.
“Hopefully,” Goodwin said, “we arrive on Sunday.”