Friday before the Niners

Posted by Darren Urban on December 9, 2011 – 4:12 pm

The Cardinals are winners of four of their last five. Of course.

But those four wins test the heart. A 99-yard punt return in overtime by P-Twice. A touchdown drive with less than two minutes left in Philly. Running out the clock with a couple of third-down conversions in St. Louis. And, of course, The Hyphen comes alive in overtime last week.

At least the Cards are coming out ahead. Two teams have had a league-high nine games this season decided by seven points or fewer: The Denver Tebows, and your Arizona Cardinals. Of course, for a while, that just stung. Head back to the six-game losing streak (I know, picking at a scab here). There was a one-point loss in Washington, a three-point loss in Seattle, a four-point loss to the Giants and a three-point loss in Baltimore.

The Cards are 5-4 in those games decided by a touchdown or less. “It’d be nice to blow somebody out,” LaRod Stephens-Howling said this week, and that’s true. But it probably won’t be how these last four games play out.

— Niners linebacker Patrick Willis did not practice again Friday and he has not practiced all week with the bad hamstring. He’s questionable, I think we all know guys who have been listed questionable after sitting out all week and it is very, very difficult to find scenarios when they have played. I expect Willis to sit. The 49ers have greater aspirations than just this game, even if they like beating the Cards.

— The Niners have other defensive talent though. Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike Miller, talking about San Francisco’s “other” linebacker, NaVorro Bowman compared to Willis: “Watch them on film, they almost look like the same player.”

— There has been a lot of talk this season about defensive coordinator Ray Horton and only having a percentage of the defensive playbook in. What about the offensive playbook, especially considering that quarterback Kevin Kolb arrived without an offseason?

“For the most part, our plan is our plan, and the system is what it is,” Miller said. “It takes time. You’d like for anyone, a quarterback or a running back or whoever, to line up and play right away, but it takes time. But we have everything operating. It’s just about whether we want to dial it up in a game or not.”

— This game will be about mistakes. Can the Cards force any? Can they avoiding making them? Ken Whisenhunt was technically right when he said the previous games don’t mean anything Sunday, but the way the Niners have controlled the scoreboard – the Cards haven’t scored double digits the last four games or reached 17 the last five – the Cards need to be smart and take care of the ball. Turnovers always hurt. They seem to inflict more damage when they come against the Niners.

— No, no new updates on the contract status of defensive end Calais Campbell. I don’t know what will happen. He is having a fantastic season though. The defensive turnaround has been Campbell’s hot streak; in those five games he has three sacks, 19 tackles, four tackles for loss, an interception, six QB hits and two blocked field goals. Not bad for a 3-4 DE. Pro Bowl possibility, anyone? “I think that’s everyone’s goal,” Campbell said. “If not, you shouldn’t be playing. It’s something a lot of people value, including myself. I would really like it, but in the end, it’s about winning games.”

— He didn’t get to do anything on punt returns last week, but Patrick Peterson played possibly his best game as a cornerback last week. And while his value as a punt returner is greater than most punt returners because of the scoring chances, the Cards still need him more as an elite cornerback, all things being equal.

— Don’t forget – the roof will be open Sunday.

— Don’t forget – there will be a toy drive at the stadium Sunday, so bring new, unwrapped toys (or donate money) to any stadium entrance.

— Don’t forget – Beanie and Fitz are chasing 1,000.

— If the Cards win, they will clinch at least a .500 home record this season – and Whisenhunt will become the first coach in franchise history with five straight seasons at home of at least a .500 record. Whiz would also tie Don Coryell for most wins by a head coach (42) in franchise history if the Cards win.

I’m interested in seeing if this defense can carry the Cards to another win. I’m sure it’d be close. Of course.

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Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »

26 Responses to “Friday before the Niners”

  1. By Brandon LA on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    Of course

  2. By Christo on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    If there was ever a game to win this would be the one.

    We still have MAJOR holes, but picking up a W against a legit opponent would be great. Let’s face it, the Rams are terrible, the Panthers aren’t much better, and Philly is also terrible.

    Plus a W nicely sets up a .500 season and let’s us all dream about a sneaky playoff entrance.

  3. By Nick Pepe on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    Emotions will be high. No dumb penalties, but we also cant be bullied. We have to take the game to them. I look for more screen passes, not necessarily due to the success of the run, but the threat of…due to recent increase of attempts. Of course being in a close game makes it easier to call more runs in the second half. Also, more play action passes could be very effective.

    Just throwing my two cents in. Cause that’s all I can afford.

    Look forward to Sunday. Number one: we owe them SEVERAL….. And number two: we ain’t dead yet!

    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member

  4. By Gilbert on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    Heck yeah it’s time the Cards made a statement. That they ain’t giving up or going that easy. The stAtement would also mean they r becoming a super bowl team again. See you all Sunday in the stadium I’m coming in from Texas.

  5. By Gary on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Darren,

    Once again I ask you if the Big Red will be wearing ALL RED again this week??? I think they look their best when they do!

  6. By Darren Urban on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    Gary —

    RE: Uniforms

    No idea. I usually don’t know until game days.

  7. By Scott H on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    Then, there was the game we lost to the Vikings by 50 points…or maybe it just seemed that bad. The VIKINGS??? Cue Jim Mora – You kiddin’ me??? Ugh. That one hurts above all others. When you are basically dismantled and blown out by a team that was then – and still is now – one of THE worst teams in the league…the sting just never goes away.

    Anyway, looking ahead – is reporting that Willis and Carlos Rogers are OUT this week. OK. That bodes well for the Cardinals and I like it! Very quietly, our run defense has been amazingly good at home and has allowed only Steven Jackson to top 40 yadrs in a game so far this year. THAT bodes quite well for us and I like it. The 49ers just clinched the division and may still be basking in the after-glow of that achievement. Hey, it sure affected the Cardinals back in 2008, remember??? We clinched and then got pasted in back-to-back weeks by the Patriots and Vikings ( again with the damn Vikings…don’t we ever beat this team??? ). Anyway, THAT may also bode well for us…and I like it.

    There is no reason the Cardinals can’t win this game. And if they do? I’ll like it!!! Right on, Nick Pepe – WE OWE THIS 49ERS TEAM ONE BIG PUNCH IN THE MOUTH…THE KIND THAT KNOCKS YOU ON YOUR ASS AND MAKES YOU NOT WANT TO GET BACK UP. Let’s send then back to San Fran with a bloody nose and a bunch of bruises they’re gonna feel in the morning.

  8. By Nick Pepe on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    I agree Scott. We need to make a statement. Big game.

  9. By DannO on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    Darren, if Larry is always double covered, why not put two receivers in the same area, similar routes? Wouldn’t this give the receivers a slight edge, and Larry is one of the best at going after the football,

  10. By Darren Urban on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    DannO —

    RE: Receivers near Fitz

    They already do that. Sometimes it helps, like when Roberts got his 40-yard catch last week.

  11. By in fitz we trust on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    the “friday before” blog is by far my favorite of the week, thanks for your creativity darren.

    if patrick willis does not play thats gonna play a huge factor, remember willis is one of the fastest linebackers in the league, he can keep up with te’s an some recievers, if heap is finally 100% that would create some mismatches an open up some running room, hopefully heap can get it going and have a big game, its been a drought for te’s since the first 2 weeks when king had back to back td games.

  12. By sunday on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    I understand we lost to 49ners last couple games,I was watching Playbook NFC on NFL channel. got so upset when their explanation on how 9ners going to beat cards was so simplified like,like 9ners going to be on the field by themselves.Patrick who? like we don’t have A dub.Frank who? like beanie don’t play for the cardinals.I hope we win and A dub knock somebody out or beanie runs somebody over just to send a message who is the toughest team in this division.The only different between us and the QB less 9ners is not having enough training in new system gave them the edge given how we lost the games this season.Its time to shut em up

  13. By clssylssy on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    This is the biggest game of the year and I am confident that we can pull it off. Need a lot of fan support to let those stinkin 9ers know that we are LOUD AND PROUD of the Big Red and they can take their pompouus attitude as we kick them outta our house! We got the weapons and know the ground so let’s show the world we aren’t just a one hit wonder and we’re back! FLY HIGH CARDS! WE LUV YOU GUYS!

  14. By jrebo on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    LOUD AND PROUD? Sorry guyz, last week when i watched Cowboys game, i thought that cowboys were home team… i wont be suprised if tomorrow 25-50% crowd will wear red&gold.

  15. By niner13 on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    Check your sources: Three 49ers listed as questionable are expected to be available for the game: receiver Braylon Edwards (knee/shoulder), and cornerbacks Tarell Brown (ankle) and Carlos Rogers (knee).

  16. By Shaun Church on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    Roberts’ 40-yard catch—

    It would have been a touchdown had Kolb led him properly. Not stating it’s a problem, just an observation. Gonna need one or two of those to succeed tomorrow.

  17. By Mal on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    The offense leaves so many plays on the field. People criticize the play-calling and the O-line, etc, but the plays are there to be had. A TE is wide open and the throw goes over his head, or the throw is right there and then gets dropped. Just execute! They dont need to do anything spectacular — just execute the plays that are there.

    With this defencse the way its playing now, if our offense takes care of business, these damn stinkin lousy 9ers dont just lose — they get blown out!

    Come on Cards — finally put a complete game together and give these bums an ass whippin!

  18. By rio on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply



  19. By Peter in Canada on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    @clssylssy – at this point I think all games are equally important.

    @niner13 – There are different degrees of questionable. Questionable in a must win scenario is more likely to play than questionable in a situation where it is not.

  20. By Nick Pepe on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    At this point, even though “we ain’t dead yet” as far as the playoffs, this game is about pride. About momentum. About making a statement. About making this a rivalry. About defending our house. This is, as clssy said, the most important game of the year.
    Because its the next one.
    Because it’s the Niners
    Because “we ain’t dead yet”!

    Stranger things have happened.

    Stay Nasty defense!!

    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member

  21. By Javi on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    well darren, as you may know the cardinals have had a roller coaster style of a season, Now, we will obviously not get Andrew Luck, knowing he will probably go to the Colts, the person I wanted the cardinals to select, Justin Blackmon, said to be the best widereceiver in the nation. but experts believe he will land second overall to the Rams. That leaves us with the person who I severly want him to go to the cardinals this draft. Robert Griffin III. I know we have Skelton, and Bartel except, neither of those guys won the Heisman trophy, now I do know that we did draft a Heisman winner quarterback in the past, and we all know how that ended up. But I have a great feeling about this guy, to be our future quarterback and lead us to future success………Kevin Kolb could be our Brett Favre and Robert Griffin III or Aaorn Rodgers

  22. By jasonm on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply


  23. By UK CARD on Dec 11, 2011 | Reply


    1) Get a win Vs 9ers @ home biggest game of season for me, tops my list!

    2) Re-sign Campbell! Top guy, already voted him to the pro bowl, think he deserves it! Hope he’s on our front line for years to come!

    3) Continue playing hard! 4Qtr football for last few games!

    4) PLAYOFFS!! Yeah playoffs would be nice! but trying to keep it realistic! Just nice to see us been talked about as a possibility by the media!

    5) Have a strong off season and really contend next season! Scary schedule though!

    Thank you Cardinal staff, and players, from a faithful fan!!!

    But really lets beat them 9ers!!

  24. By UK CARD on Dec 11, 2011 | Reply

    One more thing! Whiz if we do pull of the W, that we are capable of, then you have to give Haughbaugh a good solid hand shake, and slap on the back!!!!!! That’s must see T.V!!!

  25. By clssylssy on Dec 11, 2011 | Reply

    @Peter in Canada…you are right, all games are important however, for anyone who has been a Cards fan for very long and has had to tolerate being in the same division as the stinkin 9ers, who pretty much are the epitomy of poor sportsmanship and everything that is ugly in sports, this game is BIG, largely to prove that good guys can win without playing dirty, through skill and as a team. There is, of course, the divisional rivalry but I don’t see the same animosity with the Seahawks or Rams. Some teams are just not opponents who you respect as worthy rivals irregardless of their record because of how they conduct themselves. Obviously, you don’t get it and it’s nice to have a Canadian friend following and supporting the Cards. PROUD OF MY CARDS WIN OR LOSE…THEY’RE THE BEST!

  26. By clssylssy on Dec 12, 2011 | Reply

    @Javi…winning the Heisman doesn’t assure anything. OJ Simpson won the Heisman, where is he now? Hell of a ball player but like other Heisman winners, with lots of life issues. We have some great talent that just needs to be developed. Let’s enjoy the moment and celebrate the hard work these guys have put in to turn this team around, which includes the coaches, before getting into who “we need” next year. AGAIN, THANK YOU CARDS ONE AND ALL, THANK YOU COACHES….WE’RE BACK!

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