On paper, the 49ers easily should win the Week 4 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. However, coach Kyle Shanahan and his squad are not taking their next opponent lightly.
In speaking to reporters after practice Wednesday, Shanahan was asked about the team's preparation for Arizona and if their surprising Week 3 win over the Dallas Cowboys was a wake-up call for the 49ers heading into Week 4.
“Yeah, but all you have to do is watch the two games before that also," Shanahan explained. "They had every chance to win versus Washington in Week 1. I believe that they should have. I forget the exact score, but I want to say it was like 27-7 in the third quarter versus the Giants and they had every chance to win that and it got away from them at the end. Dallas was very similar, but they didn't turn it over there at the end and they kept finishing and keeping them out of the red zone and ended up not being close. So, they’re a team that really should be 3-0 right now.”
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The Cardinals (1-2) lost to the Washington Commanders by four points in Week 1 and then to the New York Giants by three points in Week 2 before upsetting the Cowboys on Sunday. As Shanahan mentioned, rookie head coach Jonathan Gannon's squad easily could have been undefeated heading into Week 4.
Ganon previously served as the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator and is familiar with Shanahan's offense after facing off against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game last season. Shanahan notices the similarities between the Eagles' elite defense and that of the upstart Cardinals.
“It's real similar because it's the scheme he runs, just the fronts and the coverages," Shanahan added. "He had such a sound, good scheme at Philly and that's what it's been so far in these three games. So, we'll see on tendencies and stuff, how that changes up. It's still early in the year how he's going to use his personnel and stuff like that, but you can still see he's doing what he does and it's a very tough scheme.”
With star quarterback Kyler Murray still recovering from a torn ACL sustained last season, fourth-year signal caller Josh Dobbs has taken over as the team's interim starter under center. Shanahan believes Dobbs' performance has played a big role in the Cardinals' competitive play so far this season.
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“I think he's playing real good quarterback play right now. He's one of the reasons they've been in every game. They're really committing to the run, try not to give up explosives and keep guys out of the end zone on defense and he's not turning it over. He's been extremely decisive. When it's there, he consistently makes it, when it's not there, he plays it smart, doesn't turn it over. He has been able to scramble and makes some plays. He's been very competitive in the quarterback run game when they haven't honored him.”
If the 49ers are prepared and able to stave off the frisky Cardinals, San Francisco will begin the season 4-0 for the first time since 2019.