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What We Learned as the Cardinals Kicked off the Year with a W

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Well, can’t say that was the prettiest win I’ve seen from the gang. Oh, settle down you. Of course I’m happy about it. That said, there’s always some takeways at the end of every gameday and this one was no exception. While it’s obviously very early, there are some observations to make and some intrigue with how things will shake out over the course of the season.

The Offense Goes Through DHop.

The highest paid non-QB in the league showed off his worth, almost literally carrying the team with a herculean 14-catch, 151 yard effort. It was a massive share of the volume in the passing game. While one hopes other pass catchers can step up and create a more diverse aerial attack, Hopkins is sure to be used like the alpha he is.

Is Keim Time a thing again?

I’m usually the first to critique the moves of the team’s GM, and I roll my eyes everytime I hear the phrase these days. While I think it’s far too early to be tipping any caps, it was a promising start for a couple of the free agent pieces that could give this team something it has lacked for some time - key depth.

Freshly signed not even a week ago, one could forgive Angelo Blackson if it took him a few games to find his sea legs - but it was just the opposite, as it was the fifth year former Texan that led the charge on the DL.

And in a unit were one is competing for snaps with the big get of the 2019 free agent class the and the 2020 8th overall draft selection, De’Vondre Campbell stood out among the bunch. Second only to Baker in tackles, Campbell also showed some in coverage - any area a few fans including myself) were skeptic of his skillset.

The Sophomores are off to a good start:

Coming off an underwhelming rookie campaign, the Byron Murphy came in clutch down the stretch, helping to stave off a potential game winning drive from San Fran.

Neck and neck with Blackson on the box score, another second year defender started the season off with a pop. After missing most of his rookie season to a neck injury and having to deal with a short offseason and no preseason on the heels of that, it was a very ecnouraging start for Zach Allen.

There’s a few of us who were anxious to see what Lamont Gaillard could bring to the table. And while it came under unfortunate circumstances with Mason Cole leaving the game, it was exciting to see what he could do. Or more importantly after a single broadcast viewing, how little he stood out in the transition from the starting center.

It’s a tough season to be a rookie.

I’ll parrot everyone else here; Welcome to the pros, Isaiah Simmons! It was a rough first outing for the rookie as Kyle Shanahan seemed to target him everytime he took the field. A couple of coverage gaffes unfortunately led to as many touchdowns for the San Francisco running back group.

The Offense is still a work in progress.

Arming the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year with arguably the best receiver in the game was a huge, huge step forward. But there’s still work to be done personnel-wise to surround Murray and Hopkins with the right talent to truly take a big step forward. While both units were absent a few players, it’s still disconcerting to see the offensive line and young receivers perform at this level.

It may not show on the box score, but the Nick Bosa-DJ Humphries battle looked like a mismatch in favor of San Francisco. A bit concerning when you’ll be seeing the DROY matchup against the sixth-highest paid left tackle in the league for what is expected to be some time.

We’re still waiting for the Christian Kirk breakout, netting only a single reception on the evening. To add to that, Andy Isabella was notably absent. Let’s hope getting KeeSean Johnson back into the fold will give this unit the juice it needs.