SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals will meet for the second time this season on Sunday with the Niners still in search of their first win of the season. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. PT at Levi's Stadium.
Here's a look at three things to watch from the 49ers perspective in this one:
The 49ers' injury report this week is so long that it's almost faster to name the players who aren't on it than those who are. The Niners listed 14 players on their practice reports early in the week. Though they will have some of those players, they're also missing key contributors.
Among those who definitely won't play against Arizona are left tackle Joe Staley (eye), defensive end Solomon Thomas (knee), free safety Jimmie Ward (on injured reserve with a fractured arm), receiver Pierre Garcon (also on injured reserve with a neck issue) and tackle Garry Gilliam (knee).
Regardless, the Niners are going to have to dig deep into their depth chart in order to have a chance to extract revenge against the Cardinals. That means leaning on players who have only recently been brought on board. Lesser-known players like defensive lineman Leger Douzable, cornerback Greg Mabin, offensive linemen Bryce Harris and linebacker Mark Nzeocha are just a few of the players who could be asked to take on bigger roles.
For a team like the 49ers already facing a talent deficit, having to dive into the bottom part of the roster makes an already-uphill battle even steeper. To have a shot to win their first game in this one and avoid the first 0-9 start in franchise history, they'll need a big performance or two from someone unexpected.
There was no bigger story in the NFL this week than the 49ers' bold move to trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Of course, the next question is when Garoppolo will make his debut.
Coach Kyle Shanahan has already said that rookie C.J. Beathard will continue to start at quarterback, and that is the plan for this week. Meanwhile, there is no definitive plan to get Garoppolo in.
However, with the aforementioned injuries piling up, the Niners don't have the luxury of carrying a third quarterback on the active roster right now, which means Garoppolo will have to serve as Beathard's backup less than a full week after arriving in the Bay Area. Shanahan said during the week that he doesn't plan to put Garoppolo in unless Beathard suffers an injury, but behind an offensive line without Staley and some other potential pieces, Beathard could find himself in peril on a consistent basis.
In fact, the Niners gave up three sacks and 10 quarterback hits in the first meeting -- and that was with a healthy offensive line. Garoppolo has done his best to get up to speed this week, wearing a wristband with plays on it and even taking advice from Beathard in practice.
But it's best for all parties if Beathard can stay upright and in the game. Which means it's probably a safe bet the ball will be coming out quick on Sunday afternoon.
Of course, the Niners aren't the only team in this game dealing with important injuries on offense. Arizona is missing quarterback Carson Palmer, who suffered a broken arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London. Palmer, who threw for 357 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the first meeting, will be replaced by veteran backup Drew Stanton.
Stanton hasn't played much in his career but is 2-0 against the 49ers, including a win at Levi's Stadium last season. Like Beathard, though, Stanton will be working behind an offensive line that hasn't been all that productive even when healthy. The Niners sacked Palmer six times and hit him a whopping 16 times in that first meeting.
While Stanton isn't exactly a threat to run, he is more mobile than Palmer, which should help him avoid taking so many hits this time. Still, the Niners need to ratchet up the pressure once again and attempt to force Stanton into some costly mistakes if they are going to walk away with a win against Arizona for the first time in their past six tries.