20-16, 24-9, 27-6, 38-7. Those are the scores of the past four Cardinals/49ers games — all San Francisco victories. The first one anyway. The last three were more like stompings.
Is there likely to be a reversal of Arizona fortunes this year?
Moving on to serious speculation, the 49ers will embark this Sunday on their quest to sweep all five remaining NFC West division games, thus ensuring them of a season record of no worse than 13-3. And also serving notice that they OWN THIS DIVISION. A 13-3 record would also lock up the second seed in the playoffs, since only the Giants and Saints could also achieve this record, and the Niners would win a tie-breaker with both of those teams.
Arizona brings a modest two game winning streak to Candlestick on Sunday. A win over the collapsing Eagles and one over the already collapsed Rams. It is unlikely this streak will be extended.
The Cardinals are in the midst of a QB controversy similar to last year’s 49ers. The installed starter, Kevin Kolb, is out with a turf toe injury and the lightly regarded backup QB who replaced him, John Skelton, is 2-0. Troy Smith stood in for Alex Smith last year and went 2-0 also. In Troy’s third game, however, he pitched a shutout and the party was over. Or should have been. Then coach Mike Singletary let it linger all the way through the last game of the season and his last game as 49er head coach.
The party should end for Skelton this week as well. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt would no doubt view this as a blessing, since he could then restore Kolb as the starter and continue to attempt validation of throwing sixty million dollars at him this past offseason. The guess here is that Kolb will be a Cardinal longer than Whisenhunt will.
Kolb was the QB that a loud segment of the blogopolis insisted the 49ers should acquire at the end of the lockout. That segment is no longer loud, nor is it even visible, having wheezed off the blogs to await the next dreadful era of 49er football. If there is one. And they are still breathing.
Meanwhile, in New York, the Giants are still complaining that every break in the world did not go their way as they exhibited control over the 49ers last Sunday. Apparently, the game ending play was fully expected by the Niners and they had it covered, even if Justin Smith hadn’t batted down that last pass. IOW, Tom Coughlin was out-coached. Rather than admit it, he is claiming that Patrick Willis committed defensive holding, which prevented their play from working. Coughlin was also still bitching about the Delanie Walker shift, which drew the Giants offside on a critical 3rd and 2 play. Again, he was out-coached. Again he blames the refs. My guess is, the Giants feel their season slipped away last Sunday.
The Delanie Shift has now been used twice, once flagged and once not. It’s definitely drawn defensive coordinators’ attention, though. Which puts one teensy bit of hesitation into the opponent pass rush and is another example of Jim Harbaugh’s relentless search for every edge he can get in the battle to win games. Our coach. We love him.