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Three Big Things: 49ers Week, Round One

A look at the top storylines for Sunday's game

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The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the 49ers at State Farm Stadium:

Kyler On The Rampage

The Cardinals quarterback has had a ton of good moments in his first two seasons but his start this year has hammered home how good he really has become. It isn't just the stats, although 1,273 yards, a 76.1 completion percentage, nine TD passes and a 115.1 passer rating are excellent. It's the way Murray has commanded the huddle, the pocket, the offense. The 49ers have a good pass rush with one of the best pass rushers in Nick Bosa. But Murray has become an antidote to such things. If he can keep avoiding turnovers – which Murray did against the Rams – he will continue to garner the deserve MVP talk.

Another Rookie QB? Trey Bien

It's a good thing to face a rookie quarterback. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan isn't saying for sure Trey Lance is going to start, but it's hard to believe the Niners will run out a less-than-healthy Jimmy Garoppolo when doing that last year turned into bigger problems. Lance is big, fast, talented. But he is raw, and because of the pandemic he had the chance to start only one game in college in 2020. He hasn't had regular playing time since 2019, and to have to do it on the road against Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt and company isn't an easy task. Rookie quarterbacks have bitten the Cardinals in the past yes, including last year. But they handled Trevor Lawrence well two weeks ago, and Lance is not Lawrence. Not yet, anyway. Another point to consider: The Cardinals won't have CB1 Byron Murphy, so does that mean the Niners might be more tempted to pass?

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NoteCards 2021 Week 5 vs. 49ers

Fulfill The Role Of Favorite

Being undefeated is excellent. Playing a division rival that is beat up, including at quarterback, should be helpful. But this is where we see if what the Cardinals have said about playing one week at a time will impact them. Right now, the Cards are better than the 49ers, and they are at home. But this doesn't mean the Niners are bad, and the Niners are certainly the more desperate team. These are the games that have tripped up this team in the past. It doesn't mean victory is guaranteed, but playing a good game is crucial – and if the Cards do, they should end up on top.