The Cardinals and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph changed up their approach against the 49ers Sunday, making sure the run wasn't going to get them. They went, much of the time when the game was still close, with four defensive linemen, four linebackers, and three defensive backs. And in the end, both the defense and the score forced the 49ers into a woeful 39-yard rushing effort, the fewest surrendered by the Cardinals this season.
It was interesting how the defensive line snap counts turned out in that regard. Zach Allen was the workhorse, playing 47 of 59 snaps. Leki Fotu was second with 28, with Michael Dogbe at 24, Corey Peters at 21 and Jordan Phillips at 20. (Interestingly, Tanner Vallejo joined Jordan Hicks and Isaiah Simmons on the field -- Vallejo had 29 snaps, Zaven Collins only 3. That might've been because of the shoulder issue with which Collins is now dealing.)
Of the Cardinals defensive grades from Pro Football Focus, linebacker Markus Golden, who had another three sacks and is having a wonderful season, topped the list at 80.6. Safety Budda Baker (73.5), Phillips (73.2), Allen (72.2), cornerback Byron Murphy (69.4) and Dogbe (68.2) were all in the good category -- and after the job the Cards did up front, it's not a surprise to see so many with good marks.
The snap counts on offense weren't really surprising since all the ones skewed came abut because of injuries -- whether those suffered before the game (with Hopkins and Green out) or during (when Sean Harlow and Josh Jones -- benched for Max Garcia at right guard -- both played a lot with in-game injuries to Justin Pugh and Garcia.)
Pugh played only nine snaps before suffering a calf injury. Chase Edmonds got hurt on the first play, leading James Conner to a season-high 54 snaps -- although Eno Benjamin also got his season-high with 17 snaps. Wide receivers Rondale Moore (57) and Antoine Wesley (54) also had season-highs in snaps.
As for grades, Christian Kirk continues his excellent season, catching and throwing his way to a team-best 84.5 mark. Quarterback Colt McCoy gave the Cards everything they could have wanted and was at 76.6, with other good grades for tight end Darrell Daniels (75.2), Wesley (74.3), and tackle D.J. Humphries (70.3, although I'm sure it did not take into account Humphries having Kliff Kingsbury's back vs. Josh Norman.)
For some reason, Conner was only a 64.9, and I would've sworn he'd been higher than that because his game was superb.