Saturday before the 49ers

Posted by Darren Urban on December 12, 2009 – 3:16 pm

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.

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21 Responses to “Saturday before the 49ers”

  1. By Secret on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply

    doesnt it seem the cardinals are the most entertaining team in the NFL to watch? their potential i believe is the highest in the league, but they always have games where they are short critical players or are just having a breakdown in an aspect of the game. The cardinals keep us guessing! who will show up monday? The superbowl contenders or the team we saw against carolina?

  2. By Leesters on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply

    Great post, but its everything expect a flu report. I’m going to assume that the flu bug taking guys out of practice this week isn’t an issue. No one else is covering the “Friday practice”, because its on the weekend.
    Long shot you’d read this, Ken, but any updates on how serious this “illness”, what sounds like a flu bug, is this close to gametime?

  3. By darrenurban on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply

    Leesters —

    Comon, you know me better than that. Of course I covered practice. But you can’t just read the blog to know everything I am putting out there on You’ve got to check out the notebooks, too, like this one from today which updates the injury/illness front.

  4. By Kalib on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply


    Kind of OT, but are the cards sticking with a certain uniform standard. I know they are 2-0 in the all-red get up. They’ve lost three games playing with the red jersey white paints uniform. In all whites they shoud be 6-0. I know Whiz is superstitious. Just a thought…

  5. By darrenurban on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply

    Kalib —

    There is nothing set in stone, but I will be shocked if the Cards wear anything but red-on-red at home the rest of the season and stick to what they have had one the road. I prefer to think Whiz isn’t necessarily superstitious, but instead would rather stick to what works — and change what doesn’t. 🙂

  6. By Dave on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply

    I feel a shredding coming on. I know normally when we come in with big heads we mess up, but our chip on the shoulder is these guys beat us AT HOME for the season opener. On top of that, clinch the division for a second time? Ya thats motivating too! I predict a rediculous showing by us. The 49ers will get some points but I think this will be even more one sided than the game against the Vikings. GO CARDS!!

  7. By Secret on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply

    Darren: how do you do that smiling face?

  8. By darrenurban on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    Secret —

    Just do the normal keystrokes, colon and then a closed parentheses. The blog automatically changes it.

  9. By shannon robinson on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply

    Darren – do you know if any changes in coverage resulted in Q breaking the game open in the first half and silent in second?

  10. By darrenurban on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    Shannon —

    I don’t. He was open in the second half a few times. Warner just went elsewhere with the ball.

  11. By John Rennecamp on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    I have a question for you Darren. In the history of the Cardinals have they ever beaten a 10-1 team before the Vikings? I’ve followed the Cardinals since 1979 but I don’t recall it ever happening at least while I’ve been a fan.

  12. By darrenurban on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    John —

    I’d have to research that but I would guess it’s a long shot.

  13. By Chris-chicagoland card fan on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    Darren…I know our guys are jacked-up for this game…did you see this quote from p-willis?… “We know they’re going to throw the ball and they’re going to try to run the ball,” Willis said. “We’re not worried about them running the ball. They will not run the ball on us. We’re not worried about that, but we will have to stop their pass.” …hmm seems to be strong words after what we did did against arguebly the leagues best front four..rise up O-line!

  14. By William on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    I think it would be cool if we had a black-based uniform for big home games. That would be awesome.

  15. By Don on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    I agree with William, I think Black uniforms would look great. Kinda like the D-Backs have the black jerseys they wear on Saturdays.

    Darren, I know the Bidwills are not big on change but do you know if there has ever been talk of Black uniforms?

  16. By darrenurban on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    Don —

    Not as far as I know.

  17. By nor cal cards fan on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    Can’t wait for Monday Night’s game! I live 45 minutes from Candlestick. I will be at the game decked out in all Cards gear! If anybody sees a guy on t.v. in the stands holding up a sign that says “BACK TO BACK NFC WEST CHAMPS”- that would be me. GO CARDS! Darren, what are the chances of Coach Whiz doing a victory lap after the Cards clinch, like last year in Carolina after the playoff win? Tell him the fans are ready! I have a feeling there’s going to be more than a handful of us.

  18. By darrenurban on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    Nor Cal —

    I’d never say never but I would doubt it in an opposing team’s stadium. I don’t know if that would come off very well, especially since there are other goals to achieve.

  19. By Dave on Dec 13, 2009 | Reply

    Well if its any sign of things to come, the NFL site doesnt have the correct link to the 49ers site on their team toolbar.

  20. By Aaron Lone-Eagle on Dec 14, 2009 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    Call me crazy, and I know everyone is talking about the 49ers game, but I wanted to make a comment about last weeks schalacking of the Vikings! All I keep hearing is how poorly the Vikings played. nothing about how the Cardinals played a complete and almost flawless game,(with the exception of the first and the last drive). I respect how the players on the team are very humble and respectful to their upcoming opponents, but as for the fact that this is going to be a close game, i doubt it. Last year I predicted the Cardinals-Panthers play-off game to be 35-14, I wasn’t too far off. I am predicting Monday night to be __-__ , Hey guys, I don’t want to jinx anything, but I am not predicting a close game. The players may not be able to come out and say it, because of the fact that Whiz runs a very tight and disciplined ship for which i completely respect and admire, but this game is payback, and it’s personnel! Let’s go CARDS, bring home the division, two in a row!

  21. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Dec 15, 2009 | Reply

    Good caveat in the second to last paragraph Darren –

    “Not if the Cards play the way they can.”

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