49ers-Cardinals Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 24, 2012
NOEY KUPCHAN STATS Writer The NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers followed up an uncharacteristic one-sided loss with a gritty division-opening win last week. They're expecting another tough battle when they visit the desert Monday night. Points could be hard to come by as San Francisco - winner of 10 of 12 against division opponents - squares off against the offensively-challenged Arizona Cardinals, who are hoping to avoid a fourth consecutive loss. After suffering a 26-3 defeat to the New York Giants in Week 6, the 49ers (5-2) got back on track last Thursday with a 13-6 win over Seattle. Frank Gore ran for a season-high 131 yards and added five receptions for another 51 while the defense limited the Seahawks to 251 yards of total offense. "We expect these games in the NFC West to be 60 minutes of physical football," left tackle Joe Staley said. Gore was forced from that victory with bruised ribs but - thanks to 10 days off - should be good to go for what sets up as another highly-competitive showdown Monday night. While the 49ers are giving up an NFL-low 272.3 yards per game and rank second with 14.3 points allowed, Arizona (4-3) isn't far behind. The Cardinals are holding opponents to averages of 16.9 points and 312.1 yards to rank fourth and seventh, respectively. "All of the teams in the NFC West have a defense that's strong, that's very physical," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt told the 49ers' official website. "That's a great quality for our division to show to the rest of the league. I know that it will be a physical game on Monday night. It always is when we play the 49ers." San Francisco had held the Cardinals to 9.0 points during a five-game win streak in this series before falling 21-19 in Arizona on Dec. 11. "They play outstanding defense... ," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "A team that we know. They know us. Have a lot of respect for the Cardinals." Since averaging 22.8 points in winning its first four games to post its best start in 38 years, Arizona has been limited to a combined 33 in dropping three in a row. The Cardinals outgained Minnesota 356-209 in total offense but came up short last Sunday, falling 21-14. "It kind of feels like we're not handling our side of the ball," LaRod Stephens-Howling said after running for a career-best 104 yards and a TD. "The defense is playing great, the special teams are playing great, we just need to pick it up and score points." While Stephens-Howling was able to provide a spark, John Skelton struggled in his second start of the season. Skelton threw for 262 yards with a touchdown but was sacked seven times and committed two turnovers. Skelton has compiled an NFL-worst 4.9 interception percentage since Nov. 6, throwing 17 picks in 349 attempts. "You can't squander it," he told the team's official website. "You can't give it away. The way our defense is playing, any points on the board is really a win for us, because we know we're not going to have to get into a shootout with anyone at this point." Sitting in a second-place tie with Seattle, Arizona dropped one game behind San Francisco with last Sunday's loss. "Those guys are definitely where we want to be," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "Those guys are the NFC West champs as of right now. As an Arizona Cardinals team, we have a lot to prove and we want to get where those guys are." Slowing down San Francisco's ground game could prove crucial if Arizona hopes to stick around Monday. The 49ers have recorded 176.6 rushing yards per contest to rank second in the league - nearly double what the Cardinals are averaging (89.3). "It seems to me they run the ball on everybody," said Whisenhunt, whose team has surrendered 331 rushing yards on 5.5 per carry during its last two games. "It doesn't matter who it is, they've done a nice job. They've got a good scheme, they're well-coached. I've watched Frank Gore for a number of years and have great respect for him as a player." Gore has averaged 113.2 yards from scrimmage and ran for 11 touchdowns in 11 career starts against the Cardinals. Arizona has dropped eight of its last nine Monday night games, with its lone win coming 29-24 over San Francisco on Nov. 10, 2008. "There's just a different feel about playing a Monday night game," Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein said. "It's like a playoff game. It's always intense."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker