Editor's note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Cardinals matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Candlestick Park
49ers LG Mike Iupati vs. Cardinals DE Calais Campbell
Tale of the tape
Iupati (77): 6 foot 5, 331 pounds, fourth season, Idaho
Campbell (93): 6 foot 8, 300 pounds, sixth season, Miami (Fla.)
Defensive end Calais Campbell put together four consistent seasons since becoming a starter along the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive line with yearly sack totals ranging from six to eight.
But he could be on the verge of a breakout season. At least, that’s the belief of 49ers left tackle Joe Staley.
“Calais is really a great player for them,” Staley said. “He doesn’t get a lot of love that I think he deserves, but he always makes plays and flashes all the time.”
Campbell is coming off a huge game against in the Cardinals’ 22-6 victory over the Carolina Panthers. His end zone sack against quarterback Cam Newton in the third quarter gave the Cardinals a 12-6 lead. He finished with two sacks, a forced fumble and a safety.
Campbell will move around on Arizona’s defensive line, and he fit nicely among a strong group in the front that also includes tackles Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams, as well as John Abraham and Matt Shaughnessy on the outside.
Approximately 75 percent of time Campbell will line up across from the left side of the 49ers’ offensive line. Most of the time, he’ll be matched against 49ers All-Pro left guard Mike Iupati.
Iupati, who was dominant a year ago, is off to an up-and-down start. He ranks 46th in the NFL among all guards, according to Pro Football Focus’ grading system. He has not been as dominant in the run game as a year ago, and he has been beaten in pass protection, too.
Meanwhile, Campbell ranks among the top 10 of the NFL’s 3-4 defensive linemen. In addition to his three sacks on the season, Campbell has been particularly stingy against the run.
Despite his size -- 6-foot-8, 300 pounds -- Campbell plays with good leverage and is able to use his unique athleticism to get into the backfield. He may provide Iupati with his most-difficult one-on-one matchup of the season.