SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The division leading Arizona Cardinals have beaten the San Francisco 49ers just once in their last 10 tries. And if they're going to do it Sunday, it will likely be with their backup quarterback.
"We’ll be status quo," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday. "Drew is the starter and Logan (Thomas) is the backup and then we’ll still be waiting on Carson."
That could change by Sunday, however. In his conference call with Bay Area reporters Arians noted Palmer's Week 13 performance against the St. Louis Rams, likely his best performance of 2013. He completed 27 of 32 passes in the 20-point win, the second-highest clip in team history, after missing practice all week with a sore right elbow.
Knowing that, Stanton went into last week's game against the New York Giants thinking Palmer would play, despite taking all the reps during the week. Stanton didn't get the news he was starting from his coach until hours before the game. The Cardinals went on to win 25-14 and move to first place in the NFC West as the Seahawks and 49ers lost later in the day.
"So I walked up and said, 'Hey, you’re up. Let’s roll,’" said Arians. "And he said, ‘I got it, let’s do it.' I had a lot of confidence."
The Michigan State alum completed just 14 of 29 throws for 167 yards. But it was enough to come away with the win as the team's typically stout defense intercepted Eli Manning twice. Stanton led three fourth-quarter field goal drives to seal it.
"The one good thing, it was still September, he was fresh out of training camp," Arians said. "He had about 100 snaps in the preseason games. So if you’re going to play your backup that’s the best time to play him. It’s hard in November when there is a little rust factor as far as the speed of the game. So that part of it did not surprise me. I knew he would play that well."
Stanton is on his third stop after entering the league with the Lions. He was drafted in the second round in 2007, starting three games for the famous 0-16 team before losing his chance at starting when the team took Matthew Stafford with the No. 1-overall pick the following spring. Stanton went on to be the backup under Arians in Indianapolis in 2012 - and joined Arizona before last season.
"(The 49ers) are as solid as anybody and when they get a lead you can pretty much forget about it," Arians said, surprised by San Francisco's collapse.
"That loss I’m sure pissed them off pretty good and we’ll get their best effort."
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