Sources: Mike Iupati to sign with Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The San Francisco 49ers took Darnell Dockett. The Arizona Cardinals take Mike Iupati.

It’s all a chess match.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report that Iupati plans on signing with the Cardinals once free agency officially begins on Tuesday:

CSNBayArea.com 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco confirmed the news of Iupati’s departure from the Bay Area for the desert:

The guard position was one of the main concerns for the Cardinals heading into the 2015 season. General manager Steve Keim said the team had to get tougher on the interior of the front line if they were to take the next step, and Iupati would give them some toughness. Rotoworld.com has Iupati as their No. 1 rated interior lineman on the free agent market. The New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers and 49ers have all shown interest in Iupati.

Arizona struggled mightily in their run game last season, ranking 31st in the league in yards per game [81.8]. It was partially due to subpar play from their guards. Jonathan Cooper has been injury prone ever since the Cardinals drafted him in 2013, and hasn’t been able to do much of anything on the field. Ted Larsen and Paul Fanaika were serviceable at the left and right guard spots respectively, but not serviceable enough to help Andre Ellington and the rest of the Cardinals running backs get loose.

In Iupati’s five years in San Francisco, the 49ers never averaged under 100 yards per game in a season. In 2012, San Francisco averaged 155.7 yards rushing per game. They ranked fourth in the NFL that season in that department. Iupati is considered to be one of the premier run blocking guards in the NFL.

azcentral sports’ Cardinals insider Kent Somers is already taking a stab at where Iupati will fit in on the Cardinals’ offensive line:

Iupati’s played in and started 75 games since coming into the league in 2010.

49ers tight end Vernon Davis isn’t too pleased to hear Iupati’s leaving for the rival Cardinals:

 

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