SANTA CLARA — The 49ers’ quest for their first home win of the season comes with questions galore, not just for them but their visitors, the Arizona Cardinals. Let’s answer the key ones:
1. Will Kyler Murray play?
No. The Cardinals’ MVP-caliber quarterback is out because of an ankle sprain. This is the first missed start of his 2 1/2-year career. He did not practice last week, all of which allowed more reps for the upcoming start of Colt McCoy, a 49ers’ backup in 2013.
McCoy has won 2 of 9 starts since 2014, and his career starting record is 8-22. He completed his only pass attempt with the 2013 49ers.
2. What about star receivers?
Deebo Samuel played magnificently through a calf injury last Sunday at Chicago, and he’s game to do so again today, despite coach Kyle Shanahan calling it “worse” this past week to limit Samuel in practice.
Meanwhile, Cardinals star receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ hamstring injury has him inactive for the first time since joining Arizona last season; he only missed two games in his previous Texans’ tenure.
A.J. Green, the Cardinals’ fourth-leading receiver, remains on COVID reserve and is out. (Let’s sneak in here and note that the Cardinals’ Saturday moves included an injured-reserve assignment for J.J. Watt, who keyed their win over the 49ers last month.)
3. Who are the 49ers’ running backs?
Elijah Mitchell injured his ribs last Sunday en route to his third 100-yard rushing game, and he has help if he’s in too much pain today. Not included in that supporting cast is fellow rookie Trey Sermon, who is inactive for the first time since the season opener but didn’t have a carry the past two games.
Thus, Jeff Wilson Jr. was activated Saturday off the physically unable to perform list, even though he only resumed practicing this past week after May surgery on his knee’s meniscus. JaMycal Hasty is the 49ers’ other active running back.
4. What is Kittle’s snap count?
Tight end George Kittle returns after a three-game spell on injured reserve to let a calf contusion recover. Despite Shanahan and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel saying last week they don’t manage snap counts of tight ends, Kittle is slated to only play half the game, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
–Also for the 49ers are safety Jimmie Ward (quadriceps), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf), guard Aaron Banks, cornerback Deommodore Lenoir, defensive lineman Charles Omenihu and wide receiver Travis Benjamin.
— Rookie cornerback Ambry Thomas is suiting up for possibly his first defensive snaps since the season opener.
— The Cardinals also deactivated cornerback Kevin Peterson, safety Jonathan Ward and safety James Wiggins.