With our opening game being only days away, it's that time to name the key match ups between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. Almost every year, both teams bring an exciting game to the table, and that shouldn't change this year. Whether it be Eric Green failing to fall on a clear fumble in the end zone, or the Cardinals goal line stand on Monday Night Football last year. It's almost too obvious that the 49ers are our rival, so it shouldn't be too hard to find some key match ups. Here are the top match ups to look for on Sunday:
Adrian Wilson vs Vernon Davis - A few days ago I was watching the local news here in Phoenix when I saw an interview with Adrian Wilson. After several questions regarding the Cardinals defense, a reporter asked Wilson how they would cover tight end Vernon Davis, in which Wilson replied, "Who?". The reporter asked him again, only to be followed up by another, "Who?". Wilson and the reporters laughed about it, but it's clear that there's not a whole lot of respect between the two. Both play with a fiery attitude and it should be interesting when they take the field.
Karlos Dansby vs Shaun Hill - When the Niners came to Glendale last year to face the Cardinals on Monday night, they came with a new starter at quarterback. That night he wasn't perfect, throwing several interceptions, but there was a certain play in which Hill ran and converted for a first down. Dansby should have had a clear tackle, but Hill over-powered him(without a helmet), getting the first down. Dansby should already have his hands full watching for Frank Gore, but he should also be looking to stop Hill, should he decide to run the ball again.
Larry Fitzgerald vs Nate Clements - Even though Fitz got the best of Clements at times last year, both play a physical game whenever they match up on opposite sides of each other. After coming off his amazing post season run, we should see Fitzgerald come into this game ready to score. Clements remains one of the most physical press corners in the league, and can frustrate Fitzgerald at times. Let this battle begin.
Mike Gandy/Levi Brown vs Justin Smith - Justin Smith is known for playing all over the field on defense, whether it be playing with his hand on the ground or dropping in coverage. There's little doubt that his strong suit is rushing the passer. He plays with an intense motor, and the 49ers know the key to winning the game is rattling Kurt Warner. Gandy and Brown will be responsible for protecting Warner, and possibly the game.
Gerald Hayes vs Frank Gore - This may be the most important match up out of the bunch. Singletary has said the 49ers will be a run-first offense, and who better to lead them then Frank Gore. Gore's been known to run all over the Cardinals, and if they want any chance at stopping the run, they need linebacker Gerald Hayes to be on his A-game. Hayes is good a shadowing backs, and will need to plug any running holes if the defense stands to slow down Gore.
Chike Okeafor/Calais Campbell vs 49ers Offensive Line - The 49ers offensive line isn't filled with pro bowlers, but they are proficient enough to protect Shaun Hill long enough for him to get rid of the ball. One of the weak spots on the Cardinals defense last year was generating a pass rush. They need to start off the season strong and develop pressure on the opposing quarterback. Pressure leads to sacks or ill-advised throws, which then leads to turnovers.
If the Cardinals are going to come out with a win on Sunday, they'll not only need to win these key match ups, but they'll need to play mistake free. The Niners have capitalized on Cardinal mistakes in the past, so protecting Warner and holding on to the football are very important. Are there any other important match ups heading into this game? What would you consider the most important match up?