The 49ers face tough mobile QB challenge against Dobbs, Cardinals originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
There isn’t a lot of NFL game film on Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs, but the 49ers’ defense will need to stay disciplined after seeing his mobility in Week 3.
After starting the 2023 NFL season with two straight losses, the Cardinals’ 222 rushing yards against the Dallas Cowboys showed they can move the ball at will. Dobbs registering almost a quarter of that output, carrying the ball six times for 55 yards.
The Cardinals’ impressive Week 3 rushing total ranked second only to the Miami Dolphins’ incredible 350-yard ground-game performance against the Denver Broncos. Running back James Conner led the Cardinals with 98 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Nick Bosa and the 49ers’ defensive line have a tall task trying to prevent Dobbs and the Cardinals from running wild for a second straight week.
Dobbs also was effective through the air, completing 17 of his 21 attempts for 189 yards, with a touchdown pass. The Cardinals’ offensive line, however, was not impenetrable allowing five sacks over the first three weeks, including two to the Cowboys.
Jauan Jennings played two seasons with Dobbs at the University of Tennessee, and the 49ers wide receiver explained Monday why he’s not surprised by his former college teammate’s NFL success this season.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Jennings told reporters. “Everybody always asks me about Dobbs, when he’s playing. I always tell them, ‘You can’t count Dobbs out.’ [He’s] very smart. I remember last year for [the] Tennessee [Titans] they brought him in, he started, he got a week to learn a playbook and the guy came out there and probably did best of over half the quarterbacks in the league. I’m always behind Dobbs, man. I ride with Dobbs, I like Dobbs.”
Dobbs ran the ball a staggering 431 times for 2,150 yards in 37 games over four years in Knoxville.
“Great leader,” Jennings said. “He ran the offense well, always. Every game, you could count on Dobbs, he’s going punch one in the end zone, with his legs for sure, and with his feet. His biggest target was my dog Josh Malone, but when we did connect we found ways to get into the end zone as well.”
In order to slow down Dobbs, the most mobile quarterback, the 49ers have faced to-date this season, San Francisco’s defensive line likely will need to employ a similar plan as the one they used against Daniel Jones and the New York Giants in home opener last Thursday.
The Cardinals lost to the New York Giants in Week 2, but they still racked up 151 yards on the ground. Dobbs again was effective as a runner, registering three carries for 41 yards. Through three contests, the 2017 fourth-round draft pick has a 7.8 yard-per-carry average.
Gaining yards on the ground against the 49ers is not easy, as the defensive line has been stout through three weeks, allowing an average of only 53 yards per game on the ground, ranking third behind only the Philadelphia Eagles (48.3) and the Cleveland Browns (52.0).
The 49ers’ defense also has only allowed 258.3 total yards per game which ranks third behind the Browns (163.7) and the Buffalo Bills (253.0). The Cardinals, who average just under 330 yards of offense per game, could be a challenge.
Bosa, back up to full speed after missing training camp, believes the defensive front had its best performance yet against the Giants last Thursday and will keep improving.
“I think tonight all around as a unit was the best performance that we’ve had together,” Bosa said after the game. “Just winning rushes, everybody was really fast. The amount of rushes that we won as a unit, I’m sure the pressures are pretty high, we definitely want more sacks, but that’s just how it goes.”
Bosa and his fellow linemen have another chance to stuff the stat sheet Sunday when they host the Cardinals at 1:25 p.m. PT, but Dobbs and the Cardinals won’t make it easy.