2012 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals' Michael Floyd's Impact on 49ers' Defense

Joe LevittContributor IIIMay 2, 2012

Michael Floyd will emerge as a valuable asset in the Cardinals passing game?
Michael Floyd will emerge as a valuable asset in the Cardinals passing game?Al Bello/Getty Images

6’3’’, 220 pounds. Elite ball skills. Big-play ability. College production despite a mediocre QB.

These attributes accurately describe both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald—the soon-to-be fearsome wide receiver duo of the Arizona Cardinals.

In 2011, the San Francisco 49ers know full well the capabilities of the NFL’s second-most dominant receiver. And to make matters worse, without much of a bona fide complementary threat behind him. (My apologies to your breakout year, Early Doucet.)

Fitzgerald caught a touchdown pass in each matchup and torched the 49ers’ secondary for 149 yards, including a 53-yard reception and 46-yard TD in the Cards’ 21-19 win in December.

He also displayed his tremendous all-round abilities with a devastating block that sprung Doucet to a 60-yard score and Arizona’s 7-6 lead in the second quarter.

All of this production manifested itself with John Skelton under center. John Skelton?

Now Michael Floyd comes to town—with his 33-inch arms, mad hops and 4.47 speed in tow.

Floyd’s no stranger to suspect and inconsistent play from the quarterback position. Tommy Rees was solid, but by no means spectacular. Floyd routinely fought off multiple defenders and snatched errant passes at higher-than-necessary points in the air.

In other words, he made the QB and not the other way around (also corroborated by accounting for nearly half of Rees’ TD passes).

With the gracious All-Pro, All-World Larry Fitzgerald as his mentor, it’s difficult to fathom Floyd not solidifying his indisputable talent into big-time NFL production. Four-year pro Early Doucet—despite my previous disparagement—will only enhance his transition.

Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers need to prepare for the Cardinals in a way similar to the other prolific passing offenses on their 2012 schedule.  Their opponent now comes to the gridiron with a clear No. 2 behind Fitzgerald, the man who rather single-handedly compiled over 1,400 yards, eight TDs and a silly 17.6 yards-per-reception.

San Francisco does not have the luxury of consistently double-covering No. 11 with a safety over the top when Floyd will be cruising the field alongside. The Niners should absolutely challenge Floyd to beat them, but I cannot foresee that being a responsible move throughout the game.

He’ll have plenty of time to learn and acclimate into the system by the time the 49ers square off against the Red Birds on Monday Night Football in late October.

Fitzgerald will undoubtedly fall under Carlos Rogers’ purview as the No. 1 corner. Either Tarell Brown or Chris Culliver will be responsible for Floyd, while the other will cover Doucet in the slot. Certainly not the easiest of assignments.

There’s just one caveat: Kevin Kolb (or whoever’s playing quarterback) will actually need time to deliver the football to these prolific receivers.

The Cardinals allowed a horrendous 54 sacks last season, just one behind the bottom-dwelling Rams with 55.

Will 2012 draft picks Bobby Massie (T) and Senio Kelemete (G) mitigate the porous tendencies of the offensive line? Will Adam Snyder, the ex-49er and 75th-rated guard (out of 77) materialize as the cure? (No disrespect intended, Mr. Snyder.)

I’d err on the side of not so much.

Vic Fangio’s crew recorded four sacks against the Cards in 2011, even rendering Kolb unable to play due their relentless physicality.

It still was not enough to prevent Fitzgerald from going off and propelling the Cardinals to victory.

It’s paramount that Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks generate pocket-collapsing pressure en route to burying the QB in the turf. If not, Arizona’s F-squared will have a good chance at stealing another victory away from the 49ers in 2012.