Friday before the Niners

Posted by Darren Urban on December 31, 2010 – 4:01 pm

No reason to draw this edition of “Friday before” out. It’s New Year’s Eve, you’re all waiting to bring in a new year tonight and I’m in the same boat. I suppose if this game was to crown the division champ that’d be something else, but it’s not.

As for the importance of winning this game in particular, well, I’ll let coach Ken Whisenhunt speak for the team.

“Some people want us to do bad so we will do better in the draft — I don’t know,” Whisenhunt said. “I think for a football team, for us, it’s important you finish well. That’s something we have made strides in doing. Just like in the ’07 season propelled us into the offseason, and the next year we went to the playoffs.

“I’m not saying that going to the playoffs or having a great season is tied into how we play this game. But I think there’s no question, winning the game against Dallas has been tremendous for us, our young players, our organization to show right mindset what we have to do it week in and week out.”

— The fact the 49ers are willing to start Alex Smith this week means to me that offensive coordinator Mike Johnson is calling the shots on that side of the ball. Smith was always the guy Johnson leaned toward to execute the offense he wanted to put out there after he replaced Jimmy Raye.

— Who said it: “It makes it difficult when you’re changing quarterbacks because you have to build that chemistry with your quarterback. You want to know the guy you’re going to be up with because at the end of the day, you’re going to have to be on the same page.”

Steve Breaston? Larry Fitzgerald? Try 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. Once again, underscoring the issues any team has when it doesn’t really know about its most important position.

— One final QB note for this game. Amazingly, the Cards-49ers meetings still can’t get a matching quarterback battle. Since the teams joined the same division in 2002, the last time both teams had the same quarterback start in both games during the season was 2003 (Blake v Garcia). This year, neither team can pull it off (Anderson v Troy Smith a month ago, Skelton v Alex Smith this Sunday).

— Now is when we talk possible retirements after the season. Safety Kerry Rhodes tweeted a strong hint today that defensive lineman Bryan Robinson will be done after the season, although B-Rob later told Kent Somers he hasn’t made a final decision yet. Guard Alan Faneca is mulling the end too and it’s something a lot of players pause to consider (although usually only briefly) as a rough season ends.

— Since the last three Cards-49ers games have been basically lousy, I’m hoping for something better Sunday. The 49ers beat up the Cards the last two games and that 2009 season opener – a SF win – was a testament to uneven opening-game play.

— With star linebacker Patrick Willis out, the Cards should benefit. Willis has been a pain to the Cards. Maybe Beanie and/or Hightower can go off.

— After failing to target Breaston and only throwing towards Fitzgerald three times last week, I expect John Skelton to switch that up. And frankly, I think that’s important for the Cards and both players. I don’t think Fitz can make two TD catches to avoid his career-low, but maybe he can get his first since Kansas City Nov. 21. He’s not going to get the 18 catches he needs to equal last years’ 97, but he can get 80 more yards to match his 2009 yardage total.

— It’s been a long year for everyone around the Cards. “I think we found our identity,” Faneca said, and then paused to consider. “It just didn’t translate.”

Unfortunately, no. Talk to you in San Francisco. Happy New Year everyone.

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47 Responses to “Friday before the Niners”

  1. By vivalaskelton on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply


    Off topic but what are your thoughts of trying to get singletary as our new d.c.?

  2. By Darren Urban on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    viva —

    RE: Singletary

    Doubt it.

  3. By ross on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply


  4. By BLOOD RED on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Forget about the draft!That will will fall in place for us.Let’s go out and end this season,while starting a new year with a smashing of the whiners!I pray the Cards come to play and Skelton shows he can beat a division opponent on the road.This will be huge for this kid and the team.Finish strong baby!!It smells like smasmouth football to finish.Let’s pound these guys and show them we are the alpha-birds!Pound Beanie and Timmy and toss in a couple trick plays(maybe fleflicker from BIG BAD JOHN to MR.FITZ early to get the blood flowing.I am going to around some punk whiner fans so please save me from showing them myself that we are dominant!!Finish with a big win and address issues in offseason.Let’s get it done sun. boys this is bigger than two 5-10 teams meeting to us.Let’s go BIG JOHN we got your back!!ROCK N ROLL REDBIRDS!!!!!
    P.S. My daughter really wants to see Breaston throw another pass and yes she will be with me rockin the Stevie B.jersey.

  5. By 40yearfan on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Happy New Year to you also Darren and I hope 2011 is kinder to all of us, especially this Cardinal team.

  6. By McNab's future on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Coaches please don’t tell me Skeleton is not ready. Before whatever you do or say please evaluate you process of evaluation before you start to evaluate players. Skeleton is a quiet and nice man. He seems doesn’t say alot but his games such as the preseason or his starting games tell alot. I understand you may not hear the words you hear from Max or other “mature” words. This guy is athletic and he transfer his knowledge or skills to good plays. Please give him a chance in this team. Happy new year

  7. By Chuck 1 on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    “Now is when we talk possible retirements after the season.” …… “Guard Alan Faneca is mulling the end too…”

    “I think we found our identity,” Faneca said, and then paused to consider. “It just didn’t translate.”

    NO, ALAN. Unfortunately, after a stellar pro career, you have found your current identity.

    PLEASE GO!!! (and, take a few with you).

  8. By Pheenic Cromartie on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Well, this is a season I’m not going to want to remember.

    On the bright side, this Off-season is going to be packed and exciting. We’re going to be looking for a new QB, a new OC, possibly an new DC, some O-line members, LB’s, possibly a pass-rusher, etc.

    I’m looking forward to the next game, and then the Off-season. As for Bryan Robinson, he’s done a great job mentoring Dan Williams. Maybe he can stay on as a Coach if he retires.

  9. By Nick Pepe on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Thank you Darren and Happy (and healthy) New Year to you.

    This game means nothing. Unless you are a Cards fan or, I hope, playeror coach.

    Players should be playing for pride, it’s important to still have the will to win, regardless the record. The video of 9-0 at the end of the Cowboys game – celebrating like it mattered- that told me it mattered to him…it was nice to see.

    Players should be playing to keep their roster spot: it would be nice to see players benefit and develop.

    And finally, all involved (owners, upper management, coaches, players. hell even the ball boys), should want to beat the living daylights out of the 49ers. The “team to beat” in the NFC West; the “Media favorite” (NLE) Singletary firing up his troops for a 5, 6 (not sure) prime time slate,….man I hate them like I hate the Eagles.

    Send two messages Sunday: the Cards are not that far off, and you are.


    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member
    Happy and Safe New Year

  10. By J.M.Dubya on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Typo. -A SF Win- , Not An.

    Other than that, awesome article.

  11. By Ellis on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    With the season just about over, we should start looking into the coordinators that could be available this off-season. I personally think we should go get Rob Ryan from the Cleveland Browns to perfect the defensive as coordinator, that’s if we could snatch him away from them. Also we should go get Singletary as the linebacker coach or move Bill Davis back to that job. Also for the offensive coordinator we should try to snatch away Hue Jackson from the Raiders . He developed Joe Flacco and he has the Raiders in the top 10 passing and rushing yards. Or we could go out and get Dirk Koetter from the Jaguars, he has them in the top 15 in passing and top 15 in overall offensive. we also need a Db coach like Jerome Henderson who develops players well and has veterans playing at their max potential, or get Ron Milus. Also we need a new Te coach, lets go after Mike Pope of the Giants or Adam Henry from the Raiders. They should not draft a Qb at all they need to pick up a top flight Wr(Aj Green or Leonard Hankerson or Michael Floyd or Alshon Jeffery) or Db(Prince Amukamara or Patrick Peterson) in this coming draft. Go get a Db from free agency and draft a Lb. Lets see what they do hopefully its some good decisions. Ken act as if your job is on the line and make some key decisions!!

  12. By Jerry on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    I think the Cards are doing great since they put Skelton in. I know he has improvements to make but he moves the ball down the field. I hope he makes backup next year if they decide to get a starter.

  13. By Jerry on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    I think Skelton has done a good job since he has been our starter. I know he has a lot of improvements to make but what QB dont. I hope he makes it as our backup next year since we are looking for a draft. Who knows he may be our starter next year. We’ll take the 49ers and that will make him 3 out of 4. Lets just see.

  14. By Eazy E on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    What a disappointment this year!

  15. By AndyStandsUp on Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

    Man, without Cards playoff games to watch, this is going to be a long January.
    I may be forced to get off the couch and take a shower, feed the animals or get a job or something.

  16. By Colorado Cards Fan on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    >>Typo. -A SF Win- , Not An.

    To come to Darren’s defense–If the intention is (as it seems) to pronounce SF as letters (pronounced ESS EFF) then “an SF win” is correct. “An” is the proper indefinite article to use before the vowel sound of the pronounced letter S (ess).

  17. By UC on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    “Once again, underscoring the issues any team has when it doesn’t really know about its most important position.”

    Sure does. But as I recall, King Whiz repeatedly assured us that DA was sooooooooooo much more capable of leading the team than Leinart was. And I’ll grant that DA certainly possesses that quality, because he confidently and consistently led the team. Of course, the problem is that he led them to a place where they didn’t want to go. But, by God, he sure led them. Great call King Whiz!

  18. By ross on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    That wasn’t a typo. The letter S starts with an E sound. Just like AN historic.

    Don’t be that guy.

  19. By cardsalltheway on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Happy New Year to you to Darren,
    You do know that you weren’t clear in the podcast about who will/won’t pick before the Cardinals. Did you mean that any team will likely pick before the Cardinals if they have the same record because the Cardinals didn’t have a strong/difficult schedule?
    The reason the 49ers are favored is because it doesn’t matter who their offensive coordinator(changed mid-season and beat the Cardinals the first game) or head coach(if the 49ers win will you admit your theory on mid-season coaching changes is moot?) is since they are still better than Ken W.

  20. By Darren Urban on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Cardsall —

    RE: Draft

    Any team the Cards tie with in the standings will result in the Cards having the higher pick because of the Cards’ weaker strength of schedule.

  21. By cardsalltheway on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Are there any college QB’s coming out/entering the draft who are from AZ and NOT likely to be drafted? If so, that’s our next QB.

  22. By fightingbird on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    I think with the guys we have will jell together with big JOHN SKELTON pulling the trigger and start winning alot of games and maybe in the near future a super bowl. Its like anything else you have to oil the right parts of a machine to get it running the way you want so give it a chance and hold on because a well oiled machine will be hard to hold on to.”WE DO THIS TOGETHER”!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. By georgiebird on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply


    Before all the micro-managing of each position takes place, Cardinal fans have to hope that Whiz does a much better job of evaluating talent in 2011.
    After all is said and done, the Cardinals would have made the playoffs this year if Whiz had done a better job of evaluating the talent on the roster. Management must revisit the decision making process Whiz uses to deem players combat ready.
    With the division as weak as it is, Whiz had a bad year- let’s hope he learned from his mistakes and becomes a much better Head Coach in 2011.

  24. By cardsalltheway on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    You can tell Paul Calvisi that diverting attention away from the terrible Cardinal season to the 49ers doesn’t work for me. If I’m not mistaken Scott Kegley is Paul”s equal(?) and it doesn’t appear he needs any sympathy, I’d think Scott K. ought to sympathize with Pauly since the 49ers beat the Cardinals. How about Pauly justify his suggestion that the 49ers have had more drama than the Cardinals. Each team has the same record, the Cardinals(Ken W.) has made some questionable decisions to say the least this year and the Cardinals front office has chosen to stick with the horrible coaching staff. I applaud the 49ers front office for making moves and still having the same record as the Cardinals even though they lost the first 5 games while Cardinal pundits laughed. Well Card pundits, you’d better hope the Cardinals win. Not making the right moves is equal to or worse than making mid-season coaching changes. The Lienart deal did Ken W. in for me. Not even Coach Mike Singletary initiated a QB controversy in preseason. What Head Coach(other than Ken W.) has done such a stupid thing lately?

  25. By We'll miss Q on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Never ceases to amaze me how people want Singletary as a DC. He has NEVER been a coordinator, totally mismanaged the niners, garnered zero respect from his players, and his team completely underchieved. We do not need him. I would rather have someone like Wade Phillips, Marvin Lewis, John Fox, or someone else with experience and a track record of success.

    Oh and we will never sign Rob Ryan if he becomes available. He already coached here, and the Bidwills have never done that, at least not in a long time.

  26. By Rugbymuffin on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Happy New Year to all.

  27. By Peter in Canada on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Of course it has been a bad year. But a win tomorrow combined with the Dallas win will erase some of the pain. It will also make the off season a little brighter.

  28. By brad oneill on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    we weren’t who we thought we were.

  29. By DanenInWI on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Well I was definitely underwhelmed by Alan’s play this year. But I will say it seemed like to me he played better at the end of the year than the beginning, which is odd for a player “running out of gas”.

    But one thing is for sure. B Rob needs to be done. He is an awesome guy, great team player, great presence and leader in the locker room. But it was simply painful to watch him play this year. Let’s face it, his body was done almost 2 years ago. And his body was completely done before this year even started. I watched him a lot of times during plays only to see him barely be able to run. And yet week after week he was not only active…………….. but our starting NT.

    Whiz loves him, and I get why. But having B Rob active ahead of Watson all year was…………… insane.

  30. By Scott H on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Geez…remember when the schedule came out and we were looking at THIS game figuring the outcome might very well decide the winner of the NFC West??? And, of course, we were all assuming it was going to come down to the Cards and the Niners…who could have EVER imagined it would, in fact, be the Rams and Seahawks playing for it instead??? Man, what a crazy season. But ya know what? Given the joke that the NFC West is right now – with the possibility that a team with a losing record could win a division and HOST a playoff game – I’m kinda glad that team will NOT be the Cardinals. Let’s just hope that we can end this down year with a win against the Niners, another convincing performance from Skelton, and a reason to believe for next year. Heck, we know the division is really weak right now, so…no reason why it can’t be ours again next year even if we’re just a little better than we were this year. If we can’t believe in that, then we are truly screwed!

  31. By SantaJ on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Why hasn’t anyone encourged John Skelton to talk to or ask Kurt Warner for some tips on how to be a good qb?

  32. By joe67 on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Brad O’Neil


  33. By Don't Take Losses on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Woulda coulda shoulda: We all know the negatives. It is what it is. The highlights for me are these:
    1) beating Cowboys, great under any circumstances to shut up their big time All American mouths;
    2) beating NO: small time payback of Super Bowl Champions after getting drubbed in playoffs was dang good feeling;
    3) beating Denver like a drum, shutting up those loud mouths…very satisfying;
    4) beating Raiders, shutting up their loud mouth fans, also sweet;
    5) kicking some 49er as_ ? That would feel pretty dang good, hoss … stay tuned!!

    Go Cards! Its a new year.

  34. By TARL SAMPSON on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    GO CARDS!!! Lets take the Niners and make them cry. I hope the blogs keep coming this summer , even if its lame news!! Peace…

  35. By fightingbird on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Darren, tell me something,why do people praise coach whiz when we win the division and go to a super bowl but they are ready to get rid of him after one bad season or maybe im taking all the bull that people are righting wrong.I believe in whiz and the rest of the cardinals so whats up with all the bull.Ive seen you set them straight before so go ahead let’em have it.Oh yea you’ve done a great job this season hope to here alot from you in the off season. Please tell the wolf happy new year from some of his fans in North Carolina.”WE DO THIS TOGETHER”.

  36. By Big Red on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    The El Paso kid John Skelton will take us back to the Super Bowl, and very soon. Why is it that we have all those complainers about the Qb position, we don’t need a Qb in the draft. Especially in the first round, what we really need is a third string Qb. Bartel is alot better than No. 6 and DA and he hasn’t even played but I can just see how this guy is a team player that everybody likes him. So, Skekton shut -up all those none believers this sunday in SF. Good Luck to you and the Cardinals..

  37. By Andrew Luck Fan on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply

    Darren I would like to ask you a question reference the cards offensive line for next year. I think everyone can agree the Lutui and Sendlein were the best members of that line, but they are both free agents next year. Levi Brown is ok but he seems to get beat alot on pass protection, Bridges is not the answer at right tackle and Faneca probabley should or will retire. Dont you think they cards management should have gave both Lutui and Sendlein contract extensions before free agency so they can concentrate on upgrading the postions that really need it, instead of finding stop gap players for free agents lost.

  38. By Darren Urban on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    Luck Fan —

    RE: OLine

    That would make some sense to me.

  39. By cardsalltheway on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    Jerry Jones says the Cowboys are picking before the Cardinals in the draft(just after the 10 minute mark in his 14 minute diatribe)…
    I dispise the Cowboys but think Jerry Jones is a good owner in that he talks to the media and is a fairly straight shooter. Do I think he can be discribed as such in the Kanye West “Runaway” song, of course I do but still…He’s entertaining!

  40. By cardsalltheway on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    “Higher” means their draft pick number will be lower? I think “before” or “after” would be less confusing. I “despise” the Cowboys.

  41. By cardsalltheway on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks anyway Darren, I got it(meaning of a “high” draft pick) after googling it…”Arizona Cardinals (4-9): Arizona meets the NFL’s worst team this weekend which very well could be their last chance at a W this season. The post-Kurt Warner era has gotten off to a poor start and a high draft pick to find a new signal-caller is just what the Cards need.”

  42. By cardsalltheway on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    Would you please tell the Cards front office that they ought to draft an offensive tackle like Donald Penn of Tampa Bay. I know he played for the Utah Utes, the team which Max Hall hates ALL fans but maybe someone can influence Max to stop hating and trusting someone from Utah or wherever else?
    Really now, “Hey peeps, M. Hall played for BYU(pro-style offense) so he can play in the NFL even though no other team/coach was interested and his neck is like a pencil.” I hope Card fans don’t have to listen to such nonsense this coming summer.
    I think Max Hall was used only a STUNT MAN for J. Skelton. Ken W. kissed off this season to protect Skelton. I don’t think the Cardinal organization is capable of owning/making a high draft successful(based on recent past high draft picks). So, this is the only reason I think the Cardinals don’t try to lose. However, do I think the Cardinal organization still thinks they are capable? Of course I do, so I wouldn’t count out the fact that the Cards don’t care about winnning. Why do I think this…I don’t think the Bears care about winning this week so why would the Cardinals?

    The Dallas Cowboy win on X-MAS day was enough for me, throw the game Cards!!!! Then I hope to see someone going down on BLACK MONDAY, but I’ll be satisfied if it happens this week(Ken W. and Co. comes to mind).

    If only Ken W. had half the mind/football smarts as the Patriots Coach Bill B. Back in 2001 a friend of mine asked me(after 4 games) who would go to the Super Bowl. I picked the Patriots and you know the rest from then on…

    If I remember correctly, in 2001 the Pats were 2-2 after the first 4 games, yet they went on to winning the SB and beyond. If Ken W. can do “half” of what the Bill B. of the Pats did(go to numerous SB’s and lose), then I’d say that would be what the Bill coach did. Until then, Ken W. is not even a MARV LEVY. Do the Cards want another Marv L.?

    How about Tom Coughlin? Since he is being discussed about losing his job then why isn’t Ken W.? Can we get Tom C. please???

    Marshall Faulk on R. Graves “Poor Post Kurt W. QB Planning,” and Fitz going from 97 or so catches/13 TD’s last year to 79 catches/5 TD’s this year. For some reason(?), I don’t think any Card Pundit made it sound this bad. Nonetheless, IT IS BAD!!!!

    There’s GOT to be an explanation to Card fans from the owner(s). If there isn’t then don’t expect any Card follower(s) to be like Card Pundits want them to be. An Asian in a Confusion country would voluntarily step down. I hope someone[Coach(es)] GOES down.

    If Card fans don’t get an explanation/answer as to the reason for the terrible 2010 year from the silent Card owner(s) then I’m left to figure they are Anti-Julan Assange.

  43. By joe on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    sorriest ever, cant believe cards couldnt get the tiltle in such a sorry division wow im stunned that the rams out did us this year and they’re the team to take the banner this year. I hope the suits realize how they destroyed this team this year, thinking to much of that fat cash for playoff tickets they forgot to get to the playoffs. I hope this paradigm isnt cancerouse and carry on to next season but the signs are all there we are in for quite a few last place seasons. Bye Bye Birdie i mean Bidwells

  44. By Nick Pepe on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    @ Cardsalltheway: I would be embarrassed if a Jerry Jones type was our owner. He is very egotistical. Takes the roll of Owner, GM, Head Coach….he thinks he knows more about the game then the people he has hired to do that very job. You can not win like that. Let the people who you hired do their job. How many press conferences do you see every other owner have?? He needs to be in the limelight. Squeaky wheel gets the cash. I would rather a more structured, professional organization.
    And I am not sure what explanation/answer you are looking for. I truly believe that every decision that was made from play calls, to personnel, to what the meal was on the fllight home has been in the best interest of the team. Some things just don’t go as planned. QB situation didn’t work out, just like some of the play calls didn’t work out, and just like some of the meals were probably bad. Learn from it, find the positive and move own.
    Learn and pick better from the menu.

  45. By Nick Pepe on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    with the 5th (???) pick in the 2011 draft the Arizona Cardinals select………

  46. By CardiacCard on Jan 2, 2011 | Reply

    i just dont understand whisenhunts decision making, play calling and use of players in a game. His plays calls are practically telegraphed to the other team. If the tv announcer knows what your going to do they your not doing good enough job of mixing plays. His play calling in the redzone is a joke, when your on the one yard line RUN it. you lost the superbowl because those kinds of decisions were made and they backfired. oh what a shock. Hire a real OC.

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