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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.
The San Francisco 49ers are not dead yet. In a game featuring the two bottom teams in the Division that someone has to win, the NFC West, the winner was set to be only a game out of first place. The 49ers jumped all over this chance and the Cardinals. They ended up winning 27-6, in a game that was essentially over at halftime.
The 49ers had their run game going all night and even dusted off Brian Westbrook. Westbrook was thrown into action after Frank Gore was relegated to the bench after injuring his hip in the first half. Westbrook ended with 23 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers as a team ended with 261 yards on 47 carries and two touchdowns. Anthony Dixon had the other rushing touchdown.
The 49ers dominated the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. The Cardinals, who struggled to get anything going, ended the night with 13 yards on 11 carries. The domination went beyond the line of scrimmage. The 49ers dominated in all areas of offense, defense and special teams. Tedd Ginn Jr. set his team up with good field position all night. He ended with 116 yards on two kickoff and two punt returns.
The 49ers continue to dominate the Cardinals in all areas of the game. They extended their lead on a Shane Andrus 38-yard field goal. The field goal capped a six play drive that was highlighted by a 19-yard run by Brian Westbrook. The kick gave the 49ers a 24-6 lead.
The Cardinals and 49ers settled any doubt about the outcome of this contest on the ensuing possession. Derek Anderson threw into double coverage and was intercepted by Takeo Spikes. The 49ers will have the ball and look to run out the clock and put this game out of its misery as the fourth quarter starts.
Brian Westbrook may be the only person left who is not ready for this one to end. For Westbrook, it is just like old times. Westbrook has not looked this good since he was a Philadelphia Eagle. Entering the fourth Westbrook has 20 carries for 131 yards and one touchdown.
Frank Gore has been sidelined with a hip injury. It has not slowed down the 49ers. The 49ers rushing attack is having their way with the Cardinals defense. The 49ers have 128 yards on 22 carries. Brian Westbrook leads the way with 13 carries for 66 yards. The 49ers rushing attack and great field position has helped them open up a 21-6 halftime lead.
The 49ers added to their first quarter lead on an 8-yard touchdown run by Brian Westbrook. Westbrook’s TD run capped a six play drive that began on the Cardinals 42 yard line. The 49ers were once again given great field position by a Tedd Ginn Jr. return. This time it was a 42-yard punt return. The key play in the drive was a 16 yard Troy Smith pass over the middle to TE Vernon Davis.
The Cardinals answered with their own 11 play drive, but once again they were held to only a field goal. Derek Anderson and Larry Fitzgerald almost combined for a touchdown, but Fitzgerald was unable to keep possession of his leaping grab once he hit the ground and the defender hit him.
The 49ers were moving the ball, looking to add onto the lead before halftime when Troy Smith's pass bounced off of Michael Crabtree’s hands and into the hands of the Cardinals. The Cardinals failed to capitalize on the turnover. They went three and out. The missed opportunity to gain momentum was greeted with a chorus of boos from the Arizona crowd.
The 49ers have jumped out to an early lead 7-0 lead on the Arizona Cardinals. Michael Crabtree hauled in a 38-yard Troy Smith pass in the endzone for the score. The touchdown came on the second 49er's drive. Frank Gore found success in the 49ers first drive with four carries for 43 yards, but the drive ended on a missed 43-yard field goal by 49ers kicker Shane Andrus.
Andrus was let off the hook immediately when Derek Anderson fumbled on the very next play. The 49ers wasted no time taking advantage of the turnover. The first play, Troy Smith connected with Michael Crabtree for the 38-yard touchdown.
The Cardinals answered with their own six play drive into the redzone, but stalled out and settled for a 31-yard field goal. The big play was a 41 yard reception by Chris Beanie Wells.
The 49ers Tedd Ginn Jr. promptly returned the kickoff 41-yards. The 49ers took advantage of the field position and marched into the endzone on a 3rd down run. The 49ers take a 14-3 lead into the 2nd quarter.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave: up next we've got a primetime game for the San Francisco 49ers that they probably should never have gotten. Sure, they always play the Cardinals on Monday Night Football, but they were handed an abundance of primetime games based on their lofty expectations for this season.
Expectations that they've undoubtedly fell short of. At this point in the season, the 49ers were supposed to have a stranglehold on the NFC West. They were supposed to have handed a loss to a couple good teams and unceremoniously crushed the bad teams they've gone up against. Instead, they've played close games while losing to the good teams and been systematically beaten down by the bad teams.
So what now? They head to Arizona and do what it is they do best: play a good game on primetime and beat their division rivals. You can look at this game one of two ways as a 49er fan. Perhaps you want the team to win, because losing is never an option, and with that, you stay out of last place in the division and push the hated Cardinals down. Perhaps maybe you'd rather the 49ers lose, tank the season, clean house in the offseason and have a good draft spot.
Whatever the case, it should be a good game, in that one crazy bad team usually finds a way to totally annihilate another crazy bad team by exploiting one or two crazy bad weaknesses with a little luck. Did you get all of that? Both teams have an uncertain quarterback position. Mike Singletary announced that Troy Smith will get the start again for San Francisco, despite a less-than-stellar performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a 21-0 shutout at Candlestick Park.
Both teams are technically still in the race for the NFC West division lead, but at this point, hopes have all but evaporated. Throughout the week, we will post matchups and analysis, so read along.
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