Matching up against Arizona

Game plan, matchups to watch and injury impact for the 49ers in Sunday's NFC West game against the Cardinals in Arizona.

GAME PLAN

The 49ers have sent one-third of all their pass attempts toward receiver Terrell Owens, who has dropped more than a handful of passes for the 49ers this season. Instead of putting all the pressure on Owens to carry the offense, the 49ers might be more inclined to heap the pressure on the team's running game. Running back Garrison Hearst leads the 49ers with 472 yards rushing on 99 carries, as he continues to share the load with Kevan Barlow. Hearst and Barlow generally rotate every other series during the course of a game. Hearst is averaging 4.8 yards a carry, while Barlow has rushed for 4.4 yards an attempt. With a solid run game, the 49ers are then able to pick their spots to get the ball in the hands of Owens or any of their other receivers. Tai Streets has been a reliable receiver in tight spots, as he leads the team with four touchdown receptions. Quarterback Jeff Garcia is slowly climbing out of an early season slump. He has eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions in the first seven games of the season. The 49ers, however, have been carried by their defense. The 49ers own the league's fifth-ranked defense. The Cardinals have not been able to get much going with their running attack. The 49ers have to jump on Arizona early and force them into long-passing situations. Now, the 49ers have the confidence that they can apply pressure on the quarterback with their blitz packages as well as their four-man pass rush.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

--- 49ers LT Kwame Harris, a rookie who will be forced into action for his fifth start of the season because veteran Derrick Deese is still slowed by a right ankle sprain, vs. Cardinals RE Calvin Pace, a fellow first-round draft pick who has no sacks and four quarterback hurries in his first season.

--- CB Mike Rumph, who has quietly turned into a competent starting cornerback in his second season in the league, vs. WR Anquan Boldin, who often lines up in the slot on third downs and has a team-leading 39 receptions for 592 yards this season.

--- LB Derek Smith, who leads the 49ers with 79 tackles, vs. FB James Hodgins, who has carried just two times this season but earns his paycheck as a blocker.

--- DE Andre Carter, who leads the 49ers with 3.5 sacks after recording 12 a year ago, vs. LT L.J. Shelton, a fifth-year pro who outweighs Carter 335 to 265.

--- LB Julian Peterson, the 49ers' best all-around defender in his ability to play the run, rush the passer and cover tight ends and backs, vs. TE Freddie Jones, who ranks second on the Cardinals in receiving with 23 catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

--- FB Fred Beasley, one of the best pure-blocking players at his position in the league, vs. MLB Ronald McKinnon, who leads the Cardinals with 55 tackles and six for loss.

INJURY IMPACT

-- WR Terrell Owens is bothered by a groin injury but should be able to continue to play with the condition.

--- QB Jeff Garcia will probably take time off from practice every week as he wants to prevent worsening his bruised right forearm. The injury has let to discomfort in his wrist and thumb.

--- LT Derrick Deese (right ankle sprain) might not be back until after the bye week.

--- DT Anthony Adams is nursing "turf toe" on his right foot and might miss his second straight game this week.

--- CB Ahmed Plummer tweaked his right knee in practice last week but played. He took some time off practice this week but should be ready to play vs. the Cardinals.

--- CB Jason Webster is expected to be out of action until after the bye week with a hairline fracture in his right tibia after hyperextending his knee on Aug. 16 in practice. Webster will likely be available for the Nov. 17 game against the Steelers.

--TE Eric Johnson, who sustained a broken and displaced collarbone in an Aug. 23 exhibition game and has lost more than 15 pounds, is out for the season. The 49ers have yet to place him in injured reserve.


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