OK, we’re a day late here, but not really, since the game isn’t until Monday night and today’s Saturday’s practice was really Friday, because Friday was really Thursday and Thursday was really … well, you get the idea. I am actually heading to San Francisco early to see a friend and to check out the apparently rainy weather, although the last time I checked it the rain should pass by the time we get to the game.
The Cards don’t want any rain to mess with an offense that is going so well. Heck, even that pass to Anquan Boldin that turned into a 39-yard touchdown catch-and-run against the Vikings wasn’t necessarily supposed to be so effective. Kurt Warner said originally, he though the defender was riding Boldin out of bounds and Warner thought he’d draw a pass interference flag. Instead, magic (pictured below).
“I thought, ‘I’ll throw it at his back shoulder, they are so good at that, maybe we can get a catch and if not maybe we get a PI,’ ” Warner said. “Of course Q muscles the guy and makes a great catch and throws him around puts it in the end zone. What do you say? Those are the plays you love to watch on replay and what makes Anquan so special.”
True. Coach Ken Whisenhunt called it “vintage Anquan” and it had been a while since we saw one of Q’s great catch-and-runs. He’s had a few of those against the 49ers over the years too. Maybe Boldin is the hero of a division-clincher?
— The Cards have been so good on the road this season. To be within six seconds of 6-0, and with games left at San Francisco and Detroit, there’s a real chance for 7-1. The Cards haven’t won six on the road in a season since 1963.
— One of the reasons for their success is that they are only giving up 15.2 points a game away from Glendale. I can’t expect the 49ers to wreck that average. San Francisco is still trying to figure out what kind of offense they have. TE Vernon Davis playing very well and rookie WR Michael Crabtree, I have to admit, is more effective than I thought he’d be.
— But that also means Cards killer Frank Gore is getting the ball less. He had nine carries against Seattle last week. Nine! The Niners said it was because the Seahawks were stacking against the run, but if that’s true, then expect more of the same because the Cards are worried about Gore first and everyone else second. “They are throwing the ball 75 percent of the time, which is kind of crazy because that first game, they were running the ball 75 percent of the time,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “They did a 180.”
— On the subject of running the ball, the Cards not only are averaging 4.1 yards a carry as a team, but both Tim Hightower (4.5 yards per tote) and Beanie Wells (4.3) are above that line. Hightower in particular has a lot of doubters to where he could be an effective back, but that’s shifted.
“I know neither one of us are getting 20 carries a game, but we’re just sticking with the run as much as possible and having faith in it,” Hightower said. “At times last year, you get in that mindset as a running back, you may get it 10 or 15 times a game and you were trying to make too many big plays and you’re not working within the confines of the offense. (Now) it’s taking what’s there and trying not to get negative yards.”
— Can Warner break that record of five straight games of a passing rating of 120.0 or better? He’s been good on Monday nights and last year on MNF against San Francisco, he posted a rating of 121.9. My guess is Warner could not care less, as long as the Cards win and clinch the NFC West.
— Keeping Warner upright will be a key. The 49ers got pressure on Warner in that first game using a four-man rush much of the time. If they have to bring someone extra, Warner can usually exploit such moves.
— I don’t think you can measure the impact of having a healthy Boldin and Steve Breaston back in this game, compared to the first meeting. And that doesn’t include how much more effective Hightower and Beanie have been. I know the Cards and Niners have recently always had close games. But frankly, I don’t see the teams being that close right now. Not if the Cards play the way they can.
That’s good for now. It seems so far away to actual kickoff. But, considering how this season started – with that loss to the Niners that seems so, so, so long ago – it would be poetic to wrap up the division at Candlestick Park.
Tags: 49ers, Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells, Calais Campbell, Frank Gore, Kurt Warner, Michael Crabtree, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower, Vernon Davis, Vikings
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