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Three Big Things: 49ers Week In Mexico

A look at the top storylines for Monday's game



The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the 49ers at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.:

Who Will Throw, And Who Will Catch?

Kyler Murray might play. Colt McCoy might play. DeAndre Hopkins might play. Hollywood Brown might play. That's a whole lot of uncertainty going into the weekend (although there in an extra day of rest.) Once I wouldn't have batted an eye at Hopkins missing a practice or two – "Hop don't miss games," remember? – except he missed games last season and three of them were because of a hamstring issue. Watching Brown run around a little this week sure looked like a guy who could potentially be back in a game Monday. As for the quarterback, my guess is McCoy will be OK to play, and it will come down to Kyler's hamstring. If it's good enough, he'd be out there. Otherwise McCoy. And we will see what that means in what feels like a season make-or-break game.

Watt A Season, And That 49ers Run Game

J.J. Watt is having a good year. So is Zach Allen, and it's that interior push from the defensive line that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has said has made the difference for this defense. But the Niners have a lot of weapons. Deebo Samuel. Christian McCaffery. Elijah Mitchell came back from injury last week to make an impact. Everyone knows the Niners want to run and mitigate the Jimmy Garoppolo effect. The Cardinals need to hold up, be careful where their eyes are. Big game for Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons. The Cardinals have actually done a nice job against the Niners the last couple of seasons in this regard. They really need it Monday.

¡Viva (los Cardenales En) México!

The hype will be there from an international game. There will be 100,000 fans, there will be a good chunk of 49ers fans. The Niners are favored. If the Cardinals wanted an us-against-the-world flavor, they will get it. But this is the kind of game, nationally televised on "Monday Night Football," that players live for. If you do it right, it's the kind of stage that can be a great equalizer. Everyone wants to see a game in which the competition itself matches the pomp and circumstance. It went well the first time the Cardinals went to Mexico back in 2005. Time for Round Two.