GLENDALE AZ - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers walks off the field following the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 29 2010 in Glendale Arizona. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 27-6. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

San Francisco 27, Arizona 6: 49ers Domination On Monday Night

The San Francisco 49ers stayed in the hunt in the NFC West with a victory over division rival Arizona. They won the game 27-6 and had a strong showing from backup running back Brian Westbrook after starter Frank Gore went down with an injury. For more on the game and the team in general, go to Niners Nation.

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49ers Victory Comes With A Price: Losing Frank Gore For Season With Hip Injury

The 49ers' big victory came with a big price: losing offensive playmaker and workhorse Frank Gore. Gore left the game after just a handful of rushing attempts. Five, to be exact, and he happened to pick up 52 yards on said attempts. He looked primed for a big game, but eventually left the field on his own power and took himself out of the game with an apparent hip injury.

It's now been confirmed that Frank will be out for the remainder of the season and likely placed on injured reserve with a fractured hip. After he left the field with the injury, he tried to go back in before coming out again - and promptly had his helmet hidden from him by the coaches. Gore has always been this way, ever since 2006 when he became the main offensive weapon for the 49ers.

Brian Westbrook was considered an underutilized weapon heading into this game, with only a handful of carries on the season. Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson discussed getting Westbrook involved prior to Monday night's showdown with the Cardinals, but he had no choice and it paid dividends in the end. Westbrook had his first 100-yard rushing game since rushing for 131 yards against the New York Giants on Dec. 7, 2008. He carried for 136 yards on 23 attempts with one touchdown.

It's bittersweet though, Westbrook's "coming out," can only be considered a silver lining at this point for the 49ers. No amount of hard running can make 49ers fans feel that they're better off with Westbrook in comparison to Gore at this stage in their careers. Still, as noted in the link above, the 49ers don't face any stiff tests in the rushing defense department, and may be able to get the job done with Brian Westbrook, providing he can stay healthy, and Anthony Dixon.

The 49ers other running back, Anthony Dixon, rushed for 54 yards off of 14 attempts and a touchdown, the second of his career. Dixon was drafted in the sixth round of this year's draft to compete with second-year Glen Coffee, who retired unexpectedly in the preseason.

With the drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers remain in the hunt for the NFC West division crown, sitting one game back of the St. Louis Rams.


49ers-Cardinals Matchup To Watch: Darnell Dockett On Frank Gore

49ers running back Frank Gore doesn't always have the best of days against the Arizona Cardinals. He doesn't always have the worst, either. Last season, the Niners opened up play against the Cardinals and Frank Gore only picked up thirty yards on twenty-two attempts. That's a 1.4 average, with six yards being his longest run of the day. Guess who was all over him that game? Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett.

Dockett disposed of whatever hapless offensive lineman happened to be in his way on each and every running play, and served his purpose to put tiny Frank Gore into the ground. Gore was crushed and ground into a pile of glass and dust by everyone on the Cardinals roster that day, but on any given play, if you looked for #90, you found him behind the line of scrimmage hitting something or other. He only had two tackles on the day, but rest assured, he was there, and he was bringing the pain.

Fast-forward to week fourteen and it's a wonder what three more rushing attempts can do for you. Frank Gore carried 25 times that day, amassing 167 yards with a 6.7 average and a long of 36 yards, with one touchdown. Dockett was active in this game as well, but Frank Gore got the better of him this time. Gore stopped him in blitz pick-up at least on two occasions, and of course got around the whole of Arizona's defense en route to his big game. Dockett was no entirely inactive though, snaring an interception in the contest.

If Vernon Davis isn't attached at the hip to Dockett all day staying in to block, it will be worth paying attention to which one between Gore and Dockett comes out on top, let's call it even right now. Docket will have some new faces on the offensive line to deal with this go 'round, but the man piling up the rushing attempts will be a familiar foe.


NFL Scores and Standings: Seahawks Lose, Rams Win, NFC West Getting Messier

The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals are doing everything they possibly can to end their respective seasons without a playoff berth. They’ve lost winnable games in every manner conceivably whether it be a blowout or a punch to the gut on a late game-winning field goal. However it has happened, the 49ers and Cardinals don’t seem interested in the postseason.

And yet the NFC West will not allow anybody to walk away from the divisional race. Earlier today the Seattle Seahawks dropped a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs to fall to 5-6. The Seahawks fell behind early and could never really get back into the game. After Seattle tied the game at seven in the first quarter, it was fairly downhill from there. They had several highlights throughout the game but it was not enough to get a victory as they fell in rather ugly fashion 42-24.

At Invesco Field in Denver, the St. Louis Rams defeated the Denver Broncos 36-33 to improve to 5-6. The Broncos jumped on top early 10-0, but the Rams quickly jumped all over them and took a 33-13 lead into the fourth quarter. St. Louis did everything it could to blow the lead as they gave up 20 points in the final 15 minutes. The Broncos had the ball with 1:04 left, but a Rams field goal earlier in the quarter (their only points of the fourth quarter) was enough to hold off the furious comeback effort.

All of this means we now have a two-way tie at the top of the division. More importantly for 49ers and Cardinals fans is the fact that the winner of tomorrow’s game will only be a game out of first place at 4-7. Neither team has shown an ability to consistently win games, but that won’t stop us fans from getting way too excited about the teams’ playoff possibilities.


49ers-Cardinals Player To Watch: Troy Smith

Is it a little cliché to list the quarterback as the player to watch? I don't think it is, there's twenty-two players on any given team (sans special teams) that you should be looking out for and each quarterback is radically different. Some quarterbacks are radically different one week in comparison to the next. This is definitely true for Troy Smith, who lit up the St. Louis Rams en route to 356 yards on 17 completions against 28 attempts, then followed this performance up with 148 yards off of 16 completions against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A combination of a lot of things led to this change, the prevailing probability was the gameplanning; Troy Smith was told to reign it in a little bit and settle down with his perceived "gunslinging," tendencies. More accurately, Frank Gore was the entirety of the gameplan against Tampa Bay and Troy didn't get many opportunities to go deep.

If 49ers head coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Mike Johnson could become obsessed with the Buccaneers 31st ranked rushing defense, perhaps they'll like their chances against the Arizona Cardinals and their 27th-ranked passing defense. They'll like Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker's chances to have big games against a struggling secondary and linebacking core. Michael Crabtree might be primed for a big game, and this all could be supported by Frank Gore, looking for redemption against the league's 28th ranked rushing defense.

The line of thinking is that Troy Smith will be out there with a lot to prove. This is likely his last chance as the 49ers starter to wow the coaches and make his case for another start, if he doesn't perform, Niners fans will likely be treated to a dose of Alex Smith (or dare it be mentioned: Nate Davis?) returning from his injury.

Troy will have every opportunity to make things happen on Monday against the Cardinals on primetime. He may be new to this rivalry between the two NFC West teams, but he won't have to look far for inspiration, won't need to search for reasons to do well and dominate the Cardinals. Arizona ranks middle-of-the-pack in takeaways, and Troy will need to be wary of that, but one has to feel that he's primed for a big game against the Cardinals. Can they contain his arm and a super-amped Vernon Davis?


NFL Scores and Schedules: Seahawks And Rams Look To Gain Ground In NFC West

While the 49ers and Cardinals will be relaxing in advance of tomorrow night’s Monday Night Football showdown, the NFC West’s top two dogs are officially underway with their afternoon game times. The Seattle Seahawks are hosting the Kansas City Chiefs, while the St. Louis Rams are taking on the Denver Broncos on the road.

The Chiefs have quickly gotten on the board with a game-opening drive capped by a Dwayne Bowe touchdown reception. The Seahawks currently have a one game lead in the NFC West, but at 5-5 their lead isn’t exactly solid at this point. They would appear to have the best path to winning the NFC West, but that really seems to change from week to week in the division. They have been strong at home, but the Chiefs could give them trouble today.

The St. Louis Rams have just begun their own matchup with the Denver Broncos. LIke the Chiefs, the Broncos marched down the field on their opening drive and capped it off with a Knowshon Moreno touchdown to take the 7-0 lead. The Rams are solid at home but have struggled on the road.


San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals Gambling Odds: Spread Not Changing

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the gambling odds continue to reflect an expected close battle between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals. The line has remained at approximately -1 for the 49ers throughout the week and should remain the same tomorrow. Some lines have brought it down to even, but really -1 and even aren’t exactly big differences.

The 49ers and Cardinals are both struggling to make something of a 2010 season in which the NFC West is incredibly weak. The two teams sit at 3-7 and yet they’re only two games back of the first place Seattle Seahawks. Of course, neither team has been able to put together consistent efforts on a week-to-week basis, so why should we assume they could win four or five more games and take the division?

At the very least we should at least get a fun game on Monday Night Football. People will look at this matchup and just assume the worst because they’re both 3-7. However the 49ers and Cardinals consistently put together fun football games and in spite of the struggles of both teams, I expect something similar tomorrow night.


NFL Injury Report, Week 12: 49ers, Cardinals Release Friday Practice Participation Reports

Since the 49ers don’t play the Cardinals until Monday, there have been some adjustments to the practice schedule. Normally Friday is a day when we get the final injury report for the week. For this week’s game, Friday provides a practice participation report, with the final injury report coming out tomorrow.

Practice participation reports are certainly useful to see who is banged up during the week, but the final injury report is a much better judge of who will play. A lot of teams give certain veterans a bit of a preference to take part in practice early in the week. There are even some veteran who basically just suit up for the game without really practicing and are good to go. However, multiple DNPs can be an indicator a guy is unlikely to play.

The biggest examples on each team this week would be 49ers safety Dashon Goldson and Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell. Goldson has sat out the two days of practice with an ankle injury. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky indicated he would still play on Monday, and having that extra day could prove the difference. Campbell injured his left leg last week and had to leave, so it’s possible he might not be available on Monday.

Whereas Goldson has been dealing with some injuries throughout the season, this is the first significant injury I’ve heard about from Campbell. He started the season as the Cardinals starting left defensive end, but at times he’s been losing playing time to Alan Branch. He’d still be missed if he can’t go for Arizona.


San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals Gambling Odds: 49ers Slim Favorite At Glendale

The San Francisco 49ers travel down to Glendale, Arizona to face the Cardinals in a must-win matchup between the two last place teams in the NFC West. Both teams sit at 3-7, but they remain only two games back of the first place Seattle Seahawks. The winner of this game keeps their playoff hopes alive, while the loser is likely finishing the season playing for draft positioning.

The potentially tight nature of this game is reflected in the current gambling odds. The spread indicates the 49ers are running as one point favorites at most websites. A team generally gets three points for playing at home, which would leave the 49ers as approximately four point favorites on a neutral site.

It’s not surprising that the spread is so slim. These two teams have played some great games over the years and generally play each other extremely close. Over the last twelve matchups, only thee have been won by more than a touchdown. Furthermore, for games hosted in Arizona, the winner hasn’t won by more than six points since 1999. So, as the spread would indicate, this should be a close game and highly entertaining in spite of the records.

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