Insider Reveals How Major NFL Suspension Impacts the 49ers

De'Andre Hopkins

Getty De'Andre Hopkins jumps for the grab versus Jimmie Ward of the 49ers during their October 10, 2021 game.

In less than 10 days, the San Francisco 49ers will know who they will face week-to-week for the 2022 season, including when they’ll collide with division foes.

But now there’s this new possibility: The 49ers may only have to deal with the Arizona Cardinals‘ dynamic weapon De’Andre Hopkins just once in ’22, given the major news involving “D-Hop” that rocked the NFL landscape.

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First reported by ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter on Monday, May 2, the perennial All-Pro wide receiver will be suspended six games for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy.

Then, mentioned by Heavy on Cardinals reporter Ryan Sanudo, “D-Hop” has announced that he will “see you in Week 7,” helping announce that he will not appeal the suspension.

But what impact does Hopkins’ suspension have on the 49ers? One insider dove into that area.

What Insider Believes the 49ers Can Hope For

The Athletic’s 49ers insider and beat reporter David Lombardi typed out this theory that could impact the ‘Niners: The hope that Arizona is among the 49ers’ first six opponents once the schedule comes out.

“NFL schedule is released next Thursday, May 12. The 49ers can hope that they play the Cardinals while DeAndre Hopkins is suspended in the first 6 weeks, because Arizona’s offense has really struggled without him,” Lombardi tweeted.

Here’s a closer look at Arizona when Hopkins wasn’t in the starting lineup.

Hopkins and the Cards Had Share of Struggles When Not Paired

Hopkins endured two career worst marks last season: Receptions at 42 and receiving yardage at 572. He still managed to score 8 touchdowns, his highest since joining Arizona.

He managed to get one game in versus the 49ers — catching six passes for 87 yards and scoring the final touchdown of the October 10, 2021 meeting at State Farm Stadium won by the Cards 17-10. Hopkins wasn’t in the lineup for the November 7 meeting in Santa Clara, which was also won by Arizona 31-17 (Kyler Murray wasn’t active that game either). That game was the first of eight contests (including playoffs) Hopkins would miss due to hamstring and knee injuries.

And when Hopkins wasn’t on the field, the Cardinals went 3-5 overall…plus was eliminated immediately by eventual Super Bowl champion the Los Angeles Rams in a 34-11 stomping during the wildcard round on Martin Luther King day. But there’s more to the struggles, including:

  • Of the eight games without the multiple Pro Bowl receiver, the Cardinals only managed two 300-yard passing yard games — 328 in the 23-13 win over Seattle (Nov. 21) and 313 in the 30-12 loss to Detroit (December 19).
  • Arizona never surpassed the two touchdown pass mark in all eight games without Hopkins.
  • The Cards only reached 30 points or more twice without “D-Hop:” The Week 9 win over S.F. and the 38-30 season finale loss to the Seahawks.
  • Arizona was 8-2 with Hopkins in the lineup and averaged 30.2 points per game on offense. The Cards also hit 30 points or higher in six of the first eight games. But without him: Only 158 combined points and averaged just 19.75 points per those eight contests.

Hopkins for his career is 2-3 all-time versus the 49ers per Pro Football Reference. He’s only had two 100-yard games versus S.F: An 11-catch, 149-yard day on December 10, 2017 while with the Houston Texans and 14 catches for 151 yards on September 13, 2020 during his first season as a Cardinal.

Even though the Cardinals managed to get one win over the 49ers without Hopkins, their offense did indeed struggle without “D-Hop” in the lineup. Now, the 49ers have bolstered their secondary to help counter the litany of stout opposing wideouts in the NFC West along with Hopkins — signing free agent Charvarius Ward, drafting Samuel Womack and Tariq Castro-Fields in the 2022 NFL Draft and resigning veteran Jason Verrett on Monday.

Speaking of Verrett, he’ll likely come in handy if he and Hopkins are on the field together because of this previous solo battle when they last faced off:

Arizona is clearly much better offensively with Hopkins. Now, the 49ers could have an early advantage if the first game versus the Cardinals falls during the month of September of early October.

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