Friday before the Niners

Posted by Darren Urban on October 11, 2013 – 4:19 pm

The last four times the Cardinals have gone to San Francisco, it didn’t go particularly well. Even the oldest of those visits, the 2009 Monday night game in a season when the Cards would win 10 and make the playoffs and Kurt Warner was the quarterback, the Cards melted into a mess of turnovers in a disappointing loss.

Yet that game was also the last time weren’t just playing out the string by the time they got to Candlestick. The Cards were in the middle of a division chase back then, and – even though we’re just five games into the season – the same holds for Sunday.

So begins the toughest two-game stretch of the season for the Cardinals, this weekend’s visit to San Fran, with the Seahawks awaiting a Thursday game in Arizona a few days after. Well, I suppose the back-to-back might not be the toughest alone, since the Cards have to play in Seattle and then home against the 49ers the final two games of the season.

(Yikes, oh ye schedule gods.)

But this week will determine the Cards’ spot in the pecking order. A split, and the Cards can still talk NFC West. Two losses, and it’s a lot tougher. (We won’t talk about sweeps yet. Let’s see what happens in Frisco first.) The NFC isn’t top-heavy this year so far. The Cards could be a third-place team and still make the playoffs. But if they can get into Candlestick and topple the opponent for the first time since 2008 – the Super Bowl-bound Cards opened the season with a 23-13 win in SF – well then, it’ll quickly get interesting.

— Andre Roberts said the offense has been simplified heading into the 49ers game, and that seems to fit what is expected to be mostly rock-em-sock-em. Bruce Arians said the Cardinals aren’t changing their offensive goals – “You find reasons why and why not and try to fix them,” Arians said of his offense – but it did sound from QB Carson Palmer that he’s going to do what it takes not to put the Cards in bad positions this weekend.

— Still, the Cards are going to need to score points. This lack of execution the Cards have had, the bugaboo that Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts and Rob Housler all mentioned in some way, shape or form this week, has to change. Quickly. That’s the only way you are beating a team like the Niners.

“We know what to do (offensively) but not why we are doing it and sometimes that lack of continuity shows up,” Arians said.

— Speaking of offense, Candlestick was the site of Michael Floyd’s best NFL game, grabbing a bunch of passes from Brian Hoyer in last year’s finale en route to eight catches for 166 yards and a score. Floyd hasn’t had more than five catches in a game yet this season, but he does have 301 yards and has played well.

— In three wins, the Cardinals’ defense has not allowed a point. The only second-half score against the Cards in those three games was a pick-6 Palmer threw against Detroit.

“I think it’s just about playing hard and guys settling down in the game,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “We just need to start faster than we have been starting.”

— Cardinals tight end Jim Dray knows 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Dray was at Stanford when Harbaugh came in and resuscitated a struggling football program. “It’s just a culture shock when he came to Stanford,” Dray said. “He completely changed the culture and the attitude. It really brings the team together. That’s the biggest thing, he brings the winning culture.”

— In Anquan Boldin’s first game in the NFL, he had 10 catches for 217 yards and exploded on to the NFL scene. A decade later, in his first game for the 49ers to open this season, Boldin had 13 catches for 208 yards, making a pair of impressive NFC West debuts.

“The biggest difference was we got the win this time,” said Boldin, whose muffed punt return helped Detroit beat the Cardinals way back when during Boldin’s first NFL game. “For me that’s all that matters. I’ve been through the whole putting-up-stats, breaking this record, doing this and that. My only goal right now is just to win and win championships.”

— Said Fitzgerald of his friend Boldin, “It’ll be weird to see him over there. This is probably only the second time in my career I’ve rooted against him … but we need this game more than they need it.”

Fitz has only played against Boldin one other time, a 2011 game when the Cards lost in Baltimore. Boldin had seven catches for 145 yards.

— And no, I don’t particularly believe Boldin when he says this is just another game. I don’t think the fire burns in him for this organization the way it once did, not now that he’s won his Super Bowl, but I’d be stunned if this didn’t mean something extra to him.

— Earlier this week, Arians said he’d talk to Colts coach Chuck Pagano, after the Colts handled the 49ers in San Francisco this season. Then again, the Niners shifted their game after that one and started running more. The Cards will have to stop the run, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

— I know Fitz said he loves Candlestick for the history — Jerry Rice played there, and Fitz has a fondest for the greatest receiver of all time, because he’d like to get there some day — but really, I’m not sure how many people are really going to miss it. I know I won’t. One more trip there.

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14 Responses to “Friday before the Niners”

  1. By shane on Oct 11, 2013 | Reply

    I think this is going to be a real close game. Hope the cards win but realistically i think we split these two games vs the 49ers & sea hawks. this is my prediction i think cards will lose a close one in candlestick but Thursday we think we pull out a win at home. I hope they win both but these are two very good teams and its hard to see two straight wins like that, and i like are chances at home much better. But either way go cards hope its 4-2 after this game!

  2. By Andy Kw on Oct 11, 2013 | Reply

    If the Cardinals are putting Andre Roberts back into his comfortable position, this team will go far against San Francisco. We know what Roberts is capable of and I expect him to be the key contributor into winning this game.
    -Right now, I can see Carson Palmer improving in this game. It is anybody’s game.2 great defenses and 2 teams looking to find a spark at the QB position. Palmer has been throwing interceptions and Kaepernick has been inaccurate lately. This game might come down to a defensive play. I expect the Cardinals offense to play much better than the past 2 games. Lets just see who makes the game changing play first

  3. By BigRedBilly on Oct 11, 2013 | Reply

    With the 49ers next to last in the league in passing yards per game, and the stingy Cardinals run defense, I see this as close matchup. The only advantage I can see is the home field advantage that I hope the Cardinals can overcome.

  4. By georgiebird on Oct 11, 2013 | Reply


    Kaepernick is going to be the guy for SF. How about a shadow for Kap? Sometimes DWash and sometimes Tyrann.

  5. By Chris B on Oct 11, 2013 | Reply

    “One more trip there.”

    **Except if in the playoffs.**

  6. By red bird of death! on Oct 12, 2013 | Reply

    4-2 ,4-2,4-2,4-2,4-2,4-2,4-2,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!GOoooooooooooCaaaaaaards!

  7. By HunterSThompson on Oct 12, 2013 | Reply

    Gonna be a tough game, but I really think this is the one the Cards start to put it all together on both sides of the ball. Despite the hype Kapernick is not great this year as a passer and the Cards can really shut down the run while keeping an option QB in check (see last week). If D-Wash can control V.Davis the 49ers will struggle to score points.

    Palmer knows his job is getting a bit uncertain and comes up big (enough anyway) with no picks, the defense gets a pick 6, and the Cards shock the world with a win that reconfigures the NFC West.

    Cards 27 – 49ers 16.

  8. By infitzwetrust on Oct 12, 2013 | Reply

    I hope Ellington gets to start. I would really like to see how he holds up.

    Please keep gore and Davis in check and we get the win.

    If I had to choose a loss – even though we will win both – I’d rather loose to the hawks then the 9ers again in candlestick.

  9. By johnnybluenose on Oct 12, 2013 | Reply

    I know most teams think this but if we can avoid turnovers tomorrow I think we can win this. Last week I predicted 16-13. Same thing tomorrow. Keep going.

  10. By mark on Oct 13, 2013 | Reply

    This is one heck of a challenge. But after talking to Sam Acho and Earl Watford, I have no doubt our guys are up for it. Alot is playing in our favor, the niners are lacking in the receiver department. If we keep Anquan Boldin in check, and have Vernon Davis covered we will dominate this offense.

    On the other hand, if our line protects Carson I see us having a real good chance at having our best offensive game yet. It is only a matter of time till things click, and it would be amazing if it happened this week. I am a firm believer the Cardinals can win these next 4 games with our defense.

    Bottomline, I hope we stay healthy. I am tired of seeing our guys go down. I see Fitz having a pair of TDs with Floyd and Roberts in the mix on Offense.

    PS: Will Housler show up to this game? I sure hope so. I want nothing but the best for that guy. He has the talent to be a true NFL nightmare, but he just needs to want it.

  11. By clssylssy on Oct 13, 2013 | Reply

    The 9ers are back to their “ground and pound” signature that has made them the perienniel playoff team year-after-year, and if we are banking on just containing Anquan Boldin to win this game,we are going to be seriously underestimating our opponent. When you look around at teams who are successful, you will see a lot of teams going back to old time “ground and pound’ basics and getting away from the glitzier aerial offense that is exciting and showy but also risky, even with an Andrew Luck,or Peyton Manning under center. The 5-0 Saints are using short passes to RB Sproles or TE Jimmy Graham that not only take minutes off the clock but lessens the risk or an interception…and Drew Brees is one of the most accurate passers in the league. Coach Arians has stated that “ground and pound” is not who we are…why not when we have the talent and possibly it could cut down making our offense vulnerable? Most football fans would welcome some ole time football and while we may not have Jimmy Graham, we have Patrick Peterson who has shown us he can play on the offensive side. Why not use him like a TE/slot receiver like the Saints use Graham and then we have Ellington (Sproles) and our RB corp to keep us moving those chains? Vernon Davis is one of the top TEs in the league and we know what a beast Frank Gore is. Add in a very talented cast of characters on the defense, Donte Whitner,Patrick Willis as well as a very athletic and tough QB in Kaepernick…it’s not that we don’t have the talent on the Cardinals but it seems to be more a matter of capitalizing on our assets. Carson Palmer has been a durable QB who could probably be more successful with the short passes that are less likely to be intercepted. We have some of the best receivers around but he only throws to Floyd and as long as BA doesn’t use Alfonso and Fitz where they play their best the aerial game is a turnover liability waiting to happen. The Cards have the talent, definitely have the heart but for playcallers, I’m afraid Harbaugh wins hands down over Arians unless he has something special he has been saving for these high profile games that we have with the 9ers and Seahawks? GO CARDS, PLAY SMART AND REMEMBER WE WILL PLAY THEM AGAIN IN OUR HOUSE!

  12. By Dynosoar on Oct 13, 2013 | Reply

    Good, Bad or Ugly, just want a win tonight and another one Thursday. 5-2 is the goal.

    This will put us at the top of the NFC West and that’s where we want to be.

    If three teams from our Division make the playoffs, let’s be the ones with home field advantage and a first round bye week.

    Two wins this week is possible and I believe probable, given San Francisco’s play and Seattle being in our house.While I make no predictions, I do believe we can win both and that would be super sweet.

    The 49ers are not winning like they did the last two years and we are winning.

    In true Ann Landers’ signing off fashion,

    Optimistically Nervous.

  13. By cards62 on Oct 13, 2013 | Reply

    Love the way our defense and special teams are playing but our offense just keeps getting worse and worse and I fear that our offense or lack there of will put our defense in too many difficult situations against the 49ers and Seahawks. I like the direction we are heading, but think we are a year away from competing against the big boys, 49ers and Seahawks. Our OL once again is just too weak, but at least new management knows this now where team Graves and Whiz buried their heads in the sand and ignored the problems until they had their heads chopped off. Hope I am wrong, but this is my prediction for the next two weeks.
    Go Cards offense rise up and prove me wrong and make me eat crow for dinner tonight.

  14. By clssylssy on Oct 13, 2013 | Reply

    For the first time in ages, the FOX NFL PREGAME SHOW (#1 Sports pregame show) actually game the Cardinals more than an obligatory mention today and was almost complimentary of the Cardinal defense! Of course their assessment of the offense all but negated any props to the Cards but it was a first step at getting some positive recognition. They even went further is stating that Patrick Peterson was probably the best player in the NFL, with credit to Calais Campbell, Dockett, Washington and Dansby! Way to go guys! You rock and we’ll be looking for ya to go mono y mono in locking down the 9ers! (And I meant Andre Roberts not Alfonso Smith in my earlier comment about the receivers). PROPS TO THE DEFENSE!

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