Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Cardinals-49ers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald vs. 49ers CB Dontae Johnson
Tale of the tape
Fitzgerald (11): 6 foot 3, 218 pounds, 11th season, Pittsburgh
Johnson (36): 6 foot 2, 200 pounds, rookie, North Carolina State
On a team that really does not have a quarterback, the Cardinals certainly have a wide receiver. Fitzgerald has been one of the top receiving threats in the NFL during the course of his career. This season, he has 61 catches for 755 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson has been in the role of the 49ers’ nickel back since Jimmie Ward was lost for the season after bending the screw in his surgically repaired foot on Nov. 9 against the New Orleans Saints. Johnson has held his own in his expanded role. He has one interception, which he returned for a game-clinching touchdown against the St. Louis Rams, and surrendered one touchdown.
The Cardinals still have a chance for the NFC West title with a victory over the 49ers and a Seattle Seahawks loss to the Rams on Sunday. But the Cardinals are a mess at quarterback. Ryan Lindley will get the start after rookie Logan Thomas was shaky in practices.
The job of being an Arizona quarterback is simple: Get the ball to Fitzgerald. The Cardinals use three or more wide receivers 62.5 percent of the time this season. And Fitzgerald lines up in the slot on 61.7 percent of his pass routes. With Johnson’s size, he figures to pose a good matchup against Fitzgerald -– at least from a physical standpoint.