Were you looking for more Cardinals/49ers preview coverage? Whether you were or not, here is more. As is the SB Nation tradition, Niners Nation and Revenge of the Birds exchanged questions about the opposing team. David Fucillo answered those questions for me, while he will write about what I answered to his questions.
Here are those answers Fooch gave me:
Under Jim Tomsula and Eric Mangini, have there been any scheme changes defensively that can be noticed?
The team uses a lot more blitzes, and disguises things a lot more. It has met with varied success, looking strong against the Vikings in Week 1, and getting shredded by the Steelers in Week 2. Under Vic Fangio, the 49ers defense was not overly complicated. Players reacted to what they saw and their raw talent carried the day. Under Mangini, it is more about the scheme. You'll see safeties line up close to the line showing blitz, then drop back into deep coverage. Timing is key on that, and it was not in place against the Steelers.
Which would you rather have right now, Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, or Hyde with Reggie Bush? Why?
In its current state, I'd take Gore and Hyde because Bush has a calf strain and is likely to miss the game. But in a more sense, I might lean Hyde and Bush. The health issue is always a factor with Bush, so it cannot be entirely discounted. However, I think having Hyde and Bush provides more alternatives than a Gore/Hyde combination. Additionally, I think right now at the present stage of each running back's career, Hyde can be the more effective running back than Frank Gore. I think Gore can still get the job done, but Hyde does not have the wear on his tracks, and can be the more physically imposing running back.
The talk is how the offense is running more read option, something Colin Kaepernick appears to be better at. Is this something we will see throughout the season?
There is some read option happening, but I would see it is not quite at the level I think some might have expected. Instead, the 49ers switched to a zone-blocking scheme, and we're seeing more zone read type stuff for Hyde. This is likely because Carlos Hyde did a lot of it at Ohio State, and is much more comfortable in this look than Frank Gore was. What we're seeing more of is Kap standing in the pocket and maneuvering a bit better. He can still take off, and has done so with some effectiveness, but there is a bit more to his game this season.
How much does Vernon Davis have left in the tank?
There's still something there, but it is hit or miss at times. He has been a fairly effective blocker this season, but his work in the passing game has been somewhat limited. He does not appear to be the guy who will consistently blow past defenders on the seam route. He can still get out there and get work done, but he's not where he was in the prime of his career. At times Kap seems more likely to target tight end Garrett Celek on shorter routes.
Let's hear your prediction (even though I know you don't really like them)
I'll give you a multi-part prediction! If the 49ers offensive line and pass rush can hold up, I think the 49ers can win this in a 24-20 upset. If the 49ers are firing on all cylinders, these teams can be pretty closely matched. If we see something along the lines of what the 49ers showed in Week 2 against the Steelers, I could see the Cardinals beating them soundly by a score of something like 34-17. If the 49ers offensive line holds up but the pass rush doesn't, we could be in for a shootout.