This week, news broke that the Arizona Cardinals would move to start Brian Hoyer at quarterback in Week 17. This decision will mark the Cardinals' fourth different player to start behind center this year. Needless to say, they have had difficulty situating the position since the departure of Kurt Warner.
At age 27, it will be Hoyer's first career start in the NFL. Most fans recall his days as a backup to Tom Brady in New England.
With this being the season finale, 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has one last chance to tie or break the single-season sack record (22.5) set by Michael Strahan. At 19.5, the Niners second-year linebacker is three sacks from the mark. He has had some major outings this year, but the uncertainty of Justin Smith's status does not help the youngster.
With his wide frame and overbearing strength, Justin Smith's ability to absorb the left tackle and left guard is a tremendous help to No. 99. Last week against Seattle, the 49ers rush linebacker was a non-factor -- Ricky Jean-Francois did not have the same impact.
But with Hoyer starting, it could provide a nice window of opportunity. An inexperienced quarterback often doesn't have the best feel for the pocket at the pro level. This could result in a number of free runs for Smith. This could also be a game where the secondary takes away options, forcing Hoyer to hang onto the ball and allowing coverage sacks for Smith.
The Cardinals offensive line was also one of the more atrocious units in the league this year. They should be susceptible to the pressure the 49ers can bring up front. When asked about the importance of attaining the record this weekend, Aldon Smith had this to say:
"I'll be thinking about getting the win."