GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There are many impressive statistics that Bruce Arians has compiled since taking over the Arizona Cardinals.
His record against the NFC West is not one of them.
"You got to win the West if you are going to go where you want to go," Arians said, "and San Francisco and Seattle have been the problem."
Arizona is 1-3 against the 49ers and Seahawks as San Francisco and its first-year coach Jim Tomsula come to the desert for a Sunday afternoon encounter.
The Cardinals (2-0) are six-point favorites to buck the recent trend of 49ers dominance of the series, where San Francisco has won five of six and 10 of the past 12.
"In the years I've been here, I believe we were in every game," Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "We just weren't able to finish the game in the fourth quarter. I think now we understand how to win games.
"We're a smarter football team. We're in position now to make plays that we weren't able to make in previous years. I just think now we're a much sounder team than we were in those years."
This is a different San Francisco team (1-1) than those powerhouses of the past.
Retirement, free-agent departure and injuries -- along with the exit of coach Jim Harbaugh -- has meant a makeover by the Bay.
So far, results are mixed. San Francisco dominated Minnesota at home 20-3, then went to Pittsburgh and was picked apart by Ben Roethlisberger in a 43-18 Steelers win.
"One week we're the next coming and the next week we are the worst in the world," Tomsula said. "I don't believe either. I believe we just have to get off the roller coaster and stay in line and work hard every day."
Roethlisberger was 21 of 27 for 369 yards. Antonio Brown, the kind of smaller, ever-so-fast receiver that Arians loves, caught nine for 195 yards.
Here are some things to watch when the 49ers visit the Cardinals.
SPREADING IT AROUND: Through two games, Arizona leads the league in points (73) and has scored a touchdown in all seven trips to the red zone. The Cardinals have scored 11 touchdowns, by seven players. Eight players have at least one reception.
TESTING THE SECONDARY: San Francisco safety Antoine Bethea expects Carson Palmer to come at San Francisco's secondary just as Roethlisberger did.
"Your second week on a new job, you're still going to be feeling some things out," Bethea said. "We knew what we did wrong, so there was no guessing about it. We knew we didn't play the way we were supposed to play, we didn't live up to our expectations. That was on us."
KAP ON TRACK: Left guard Alex Boone is becoming impatient to see more big plays such as Colin Kaepernick's 75-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss at Pittsburgh that was already out of hand.
Kaepernick wound up with 335 yards passing and six completions to Smith.
"It's good to see those plays but at the same time we want to see more of them. We're out there blocking for however long we are, it's got to start paying off now," guard Boone said.
"We've got to start connecting the ball. Guys got to catch the ball, we've got to block better but at the end of the day we've got to make big plays, we've got to make teams fear us downfield."
JOHNSON & JOHNSON: With Andre Ellington probably out, Arizona will have the Johnson & Johnson running attack.
Chris Johnson gets the start. The 29-year-old gained 72 yards in 20 carries against Chicago. Rookie David Johnson rushed for 42 yards in just five attempts, including an 18-year touchdown. David Johnson returned the opening kickoff 108 yards for a score, the longest play in Cardinals history.
The week before, he caught a 55-yard touchdown pass. He became the first player to score on a reception, running play and kickoff return in the first two games of his career. He signed a jersey that was sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The 49ers counter with Carlos Hyde, who leads the league in rushing through two games with 211 yards, but had only 43 last week.
IUPATI ON THE OTHER SIDE?: If Arizona guard Mike Iupati returns after last month's arthroscopic knee surgery, the 49ers will be eager to see their former first-round draft pick from 2010 who departed in free agency to the division rival.
"That will be fun," said Quinton Dial, who didn't want to give away any secrets on what he might do against the big lineman, noting with a smile, "I'm not going to say."
Tomsula praised Iupati as a person and player.
"I'd have Mike Iupati and his family babysit my children seven days a week," Tomsula said.