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San Francisco @ Arizona Cardinals: A Prospector's Guide

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The San Francisco 49ers travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals in what will mark the 35th contest between the two teams, with San Francisco holding a 19-15 advantage over Arizona. The series dates back to 1951. It will be the second consecutive year that the two teams have squared off on Monday Night Football as the 49ers defeated the Cardinals 20-17 in the season-opener on MNF last year.

In Week 1 of this season, Arizona beat San Francisco 23-13 in a game that saw the 49ers turn the ball over five times and the Cardinals control the majority of the clock. San Francisco enters the upcoming game looking to halt a five-game losing streak after dropping a 29-17 contest to the Seahawks prior to the bye weekend. In that game, the 49ers racked up 388 total yards of offense in Mike Singletary’s head coaching debut, but it was two big turn-overs that proved costly in San Francisco’s loss.

After the jump, we've got a recap of the last season's matchup, along with some facts and stats about the teams...

At San Francisco, CA, September 7, 2008
The San Francisco 49ers dropped its home-opener 23-13 against NFC West rival Arizona. The 49ers turned the ball over five times with four fumbles and one interception. Despite three turnovers in the first half alone, San Francisco managed to head into halftime tied at 10-10.   Arizona controlled the ball for over 20 minutes in the second half and added 13 points to essentially seal the victory.  The Cardinals took control of the game in the third quarter, chewing 11 minutes off the clock and scoring 10 points before the 49ers even had a chance to run a single offensive play.

Arizona took the second half kick and engineered a 15-play, 65-yard drive that elapsed 6:35 off the clock before a 31-yard PK Neil Rackers field goal put the Cardinals in front, 13-10. Rackers pooched the ensuing kick into the second row of the 49ers return unit where LB Takeo Spikes mishandled the ball, resulting in an Arizona fumble recovery and a first down at the San Francisco 33-yard line. Arizona converted that drive into a touchdown when rookie RB Tim Hightower scored on a two-yard run on a fourth-and-one situation for a 20-10 Cardinals lead.

San Francisco QB J.T. O’Sullivan positioned the 49ers for a 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 20-13. The 49ers comeback chances ended when Arizona went on an 18-play, 62-yard drive field goal drive that took over 10 minutes for a 23-13 advantage. San Francisco fumbled on the first play of the following drive to secure the win for Arizona. O’Sullivan made his first NFL start and finished the game 14-of-20 for 195 yards with one interception and two fumbles. After spotting Arizona a 3-0 lead, RB Frank Gore took a handoff and bounced to the outside for a 41-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers a 7-3 lead. Gore finished the game with 96 yards rushing on 14 carries for a 6.9-yard average. A one-yard touchdown pass from QB Kurt Warner to WR Larry Fitzgerald gave the Cardinals a 10-7 second quarter lead before Nedney connected on a 39-yarder with just under two minutes to play in the first half to tie the game at 10-10.

2008 Statistics

49ers (rank) Cardinals (rank)
21.4 (t-19th) Points Per Game 29.3 (1st)
310.5 (24th) Total Offense Per Game 386.9 (2nd)
105.1 (19th) Rushing Yards Per Game 93.5 (28th)
205.4 (18th) Net Passing Yards Per Game 293.4 (2nd)
28:53 (22nd) Possession Average 32:42 (3rd)
28.8 (30th) Opp. Points Per Game 23.0 (18th)
329.6 (19th) Opp. Total Offense Per Game 308.3 (12th)
112.0 (19th) Opp. Rushing YPG 92.0 (11th)
217.6 (20th) Opp. Net Passing YPG 216.3 (t-18th)
-10 (31st) Turnover Differential +1 (t-11th)