How will 49ers respond after 1st loss?
SANTA CLARA — It was not business as usual this week at 49ers headquarters.
On the most talkative 49ers team in years, the players didn’t seem eager to discuss their first loss of the season. The locker room was mostly empty Wednesday and Thursday. Players hung out in the mail room or the eating room or the bathroom while reporters stood and looked at their phones.
For the first time this season, the 49ers seemed apprehensive. The previous 10 weeks, the 49ers locker room was a nonstop party.
When they blew out the Carolina Panthers a few weeks ago, the 49ers were an undefeated juggernaut. Now, they’re an injured team coming off a loss, facing the toughest four-game stretch of the season.
How will the 49ers respond to a loss? In terms of being stand-up guys to the media, who aren’t very intimidating, the 49ers didn’t respond well.
The 49ers’ next four opponents, in order, are the Arizona Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers, the Baltimore Ravens and the New Orleans Saints.
The weakest opponent of the four is Sunday’s upcoming opponent, the Cardinals.
The 49ers need to beat the Cardinals.
Las Vegas oddsmakers expect the 49ers will win big — they’re 10-point favorites. But the game should be much tighter than that.
Here are five things to know about the 49ers matchup with the Cardinals.
1. The Cardinals are an ascending team: The Cardinals’ record is merely 3-6-1. But they have a rookie head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, who’s still learning, and their players are picking up his system week by week. They run it better now than they did a month ago.
The Cardinals also have a rookie quarterback, Kyler Murray, who plays like a five-year veteran.
The 22-year-old has thrown 12 touchdown passes and only five interceptions this season.
And even though the Cardinals have won only three games, they’ve hung tough against most opponents. Last week, they lost by only three to Tampa Bay. The week before, the Cardinals lost by three to the 49ers and were coming on at the end.
The Cardinals have improved since then.
“They’re a very good team” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Right when we had them, they were floating around the .500 record. You could see why they had been in every game. When you played them in person, we understood even more. They’re talented on offense and defense. They got a very talented quarterback who’s getting better and better. I see them as a good team now and they are only going to get better.”
2. The 49ers are not ascending. They’re injured: Just a few weeks ago, they seemed like the best team in the league. Now, after losing to the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers might not even be the best team in the NFC West. At least not for the time being.
The 49ers are beat up.
The 49ers may not even suit up a full 46-man active roster Sunday against the Cardinals. The 49ers listed 10 players on their injury report Friday afternoon, and only seven can be inactive on game day. Meaning a few injured players who can’t play could suit up anyway just to fill a roster.