When the schedule came out in April, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt made a joke about not opening up with the 49ers — a joke everyone around the Cards could have made. It had become a death-and-taxes sort of thing, with the Cards and 49ers beginning every season against each other (at least since 2006, when the Niners visited in the regular-season debut of University of Phoenix Stadium).
The history between the teams since they became NFC West brethren has been interesting, to say the least, building on a rivalry. There was the Pearl Harbor Day disaster for the Cards in 2003, when a 50-14 loss in San Francisco was crystallized on Josh McCown’s backwards pass to tackle L.J. Shelton in his own end zone. There was the Niners’ “Cardinals-and-14” record in 2004, when their only two wins were identical, backbreaking 31-28 overtime victories against Arizona. There was the 31-14 Cards’ demolition (after a 14-0 deficit) of the Niners in Mexico City in 2005 in front of a then-record 103,467 fans. There was the Cards’ sweep of San Fran in an otherwise forgettable 2006 season that ended Denny Green’s tenure. There have been “Monday Night Football” clashes each of the last three seasons and the crushing 37-31 OT home loss for the Cards in 2007.
Now that both teams have been revived to the level of division title contenders — and given the dichotomy of the Cards’ 10-6 division-winning record if a year ago compared to the Niners’ sweep of Arizona despite a .500 record — this season’s matchups may be the most anticipated since the two moved in together in the NFC West.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to see anything until after Thanksgiving. That’s what I thought as Darnell Dockett and Vernon Davis traded Twitter jabs (and Mike Sando stirred it up) about Vernon and Adrian Wilson (who usually steers clear of such things). Not only are the Cards not opening with the Niners, the Cards will be 10 games into the season before San Fran visits Glendale for a fourth straight year of “Monday Night Football.” The two teams close out the season against each other Jan. 2 in the Bay Area.
It’s a long time to wait. And a long time for ill will to build.
Tags: 49ers, Darnell Dockett, Vernon Davis
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