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San Francisco @ Arizona Cardinals: A Prospector's Guide

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For those that have joined our site since the end of last season, we run a weekly feature during the regulat season called "A Prospector's Guide."  It's a pretty simply feature really.  Each week the 49ers PR department emails me the game release for the week.  It includes a run down of all sorts of information about the 49ers, their opponent and the history of the rivalry. 

When I put together this Prospector's Guide, it will usually include a quick rundown of the previous week and the season to date and give some basic info about the history of the rivalry.  After the jump, I've added info on coaching connections between the 49ers and Cardinals (new from last year) and some series highlights.  After that we have a recap of the last matchup, followed by a rundown of the teams' 2009 statistics.  That last section for this first game is a rundown of 2008 statistics.  This isn't exactly earth-shattering information, but it gives you a nice little resource heading into the game.  I try to get these out each Wednesday, but it depends on how quickly I get the release from the 49ers.

For the fourth consecutive season, the 49ers and Cardinals will square off against one another in the season opener.  The game will mark the 36th regular season meeting between the two teams, with San Francisco holding a 19-16 advantage over Arizona in a series that dates back to 1951. The 49ers have posted a 33-29-1 overall record in season openers, which includes a 14-7 record since 1988.

The upcoming game will mark Mike Singletary’s first season opener as a head coach. After Singletary took over the reins midway through the 2008 season, the 49ers went on to register a 5-4 record, which included wins in five of the team’s final seven games.

San Francisco recorded a 3-1 record in 2009 preseeason, winning the first three contests before dropping the final game to the San Diego Chargers. The team ranked 2nd in the NFL in turnover ratio (+8), posting 10 takeaways and just two turnovers. The 49ers also ranked among the league leaders in rushing during preseason play, ranking 5th with 143.0 yards per game on the ground.

49ers-Cardinals Connections
• 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was a teammate of Cardinals assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm with the Washington Redskins from 1988-91. Manusky played linebacker, while Grimm played offensive guard.
• 49ers tight ends coach Pete Hoener has had coaching stints with the Cardinals in both St. Louis (1985-86) and Arizona (2001-03).
• 49ers wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan spent three seasons as the Cardinals offensive coordinator from 2001-03.
• 49ers special teams coordinator Al Everest coached in the same capacity for the Cardinals from 1996-99.
• Cardinals linebackers coach Billy Davis was the 49ers defensive coordinator from 2005-06.

FORMER CARDINALS- 49ers K Joe Nedney spent three seasons with the Cardinals from 1997-99...49ers G Tony Wragge was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cardinals in 2002. Wragge spent two seasons (2002-03) with Arizona.

FORMER 49ERS - Cardinals DE Chike Okeafor spent the first four years
of his career with the 49ers after being drafted in the 3rd round (89th
overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft.

HAIL THE VICTORS - 49ers G David Baas played at Michigan alongside Cardinals DT Gabe Watson, DT Alan Branch and WR Steve Breaston.

CARDINALS NOR-CAL CONNECTIONS - Cardinals RB J.J. Arrington played for the College of the Canyons in Valencia before playing two seasons at Cal.

Series Highlights
Matchups: 35
Series Record: 49ers lead series 19-16
49ers Away vs. Cardinals: Series tied 8-8
First Meeting: 11/15/51, Cardinals win, 27-21, at San Francisco
Last Meeting: 11/10/08, Cardinals win, 29-24, at San Francisco
Current Streak: Lost 2
Longest 49ers Win Streak: 5 (9/14/80-10/18/87 | 10/24/93-12/21/02)
Longest Cards Win Streak: 4 (10/6/74-12/2/79 | 10/2/05-12/24/06)
Most 49ers Points: 50 (12/7/03): 50-14, at San Francisco
Most Cardinals Points: 34 (Two Times): Last (10/6/74), 34-9 at SF
49ers Shutouts: None
Cardinals Shutouts: None

At Arizona, CA, November 10, 2008

The Arizona Cardinals stopped RB Michael Robinson up the middle on a run from the 2-yard line as the game ended to preserve a 29-24 victory against the 49ers on Monday Night Football. The Cardinals never led in the game until 4:16 left to play when a 34-yard INT return by LB Karlos Dansby set up a 5-yard TD pass from QB Kurt Warner to WR Anquan Boldin to give the Cardinals a 29-24 lead after a failed 2-point play.

San Francisco still had two more chances with drives into Arizona territory. The first one ended when QB Shaun Hill was intercepted by S Adrian Wilson at the 12-yard line. The 49ers defenses stopped the Cardinals on three straight plays on the ensuing series and got the ball back at the Arizona 42-yard line with 1:06 left in regulation. Hill completed three-straight passes to WR Jason Hill, including a 14-yard pass to get to the Arizona one-yard line with 21 seconds left. RB Frank Gore was tripped up on the first run, and then Robinson was stopped on a 2-yard run up the middle to secure the Cardinals win.

The 49ers took the game’s opening kickoff for a TD on a 104-yard return by KR Allen Rossum, and then jumped in front, 21-13, at halftime behind a 31-yard TD pass from Hill to WR Josh Morgan and an 18-yard TD pass from Hill to TE Vernon Davis. Warner, who finished with 328 yards passing, led the Cardinals on a TD drive to start the 2nd half, but the 49ers answered with a FG drive to keep a 24-20 lead heading into the final quarter.

Ball security plagued the 49ers late in the game, leading to 9 Arizona points. Hill lost a fumble on an exchange from center at the San Francisco 10-yard line to set up a Cardinals FG early in the 4th quarter. That was followed Hill’s two INTs later in the 4th quarter. The 49ers defense held the Cardinals to 46 yards on 19 carries for a 2.4-yard average. The 49ers offense ended Arizona’s NFL record of 31 straight games with a sack.

2008 Statistics

49ERS (rank) CARDINALS (rank)
7-9 (2nd NFCW) Record 9-7 (1st NFCW)
21.2 (22nd) Points per game 26.7 (3rd)
311.1 (23rd) Total Offense 365.8 (4th)
99.9 (27th) Rushing Offense 73.6 (32nd)
211.2 (13th) Passing Offense 292.1 (2nd)
29:22 (20th) Possession Avg 30:09 (16th)
23.8 (t-22nd) Points allowed/gm 26.6 (28th)
326.0 (13th) Total Defense 331.5 (19th)
106.8 (t-13th) Rushing Defense 110.3 (16th)
219.2 (20th) Passing Defense 221.3 (22nd)
30 (t-16th) Sacks 31 (t-14th)
47.1 (3rd) Punting Avg (Gross) 41.8 (26th)
-17 (t-31st) Turnover Differential 0 (t-17th)