Game snapshot: 49ers vs. Cardinals

In the battle to stay out of the NFC West basement, the 49ers will need to get their offense going with rookie Alex Smith taking over again at quarterback. He'll need some help from San Francisco's running game to keep pace with the Arizona Cardinals on the scoreboard.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. Pacific

SITE: Monster Park, San Francisco


RECORDS: Cardinals 3-8; 49ers 2-9

TV: FOX, Thom Brennaman, Tim Green

SERIES: 29th meeting. The 49ers lead 17-11, including victories in eight of the last 10 meetings. The Cardinals were a 31-14 winner earlier this season, scoring the final 31 points of the game for the victory in Mexico City. It was the first time an NFL regular-season game had been held outside the United States. Quarterback Josh McCown, in his first start this year for injured Kurt Warner, passed for a then-career-high 385 yards and two touchdowns, and Neil Rackers made all six field-goal attempts in the convincing victory. The most memorable game in the series from the Cardinals' perspective came on Nov. 6, 1988. Trailing 23-0 in the second half, the team rallied for a 24-23 win under coach Gene Stallings in the Big Red's initial season in Arizona.

2005 NFL RANKINGS: Cardinals: offense 12th (32nd rush, 2nd pass); defense 23rd (20th rush, 19th pass). 49ers: offense 32nd (21st rush, 32nd pass); defense 32nd (22nd rush, 32nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: With rookie QB Alex Smith making his first start since suffering a knee injury Oct. 23, the 49ers would be wise to use the running and short passing games to ease him back into the flow. The Cardinals are depleted along their defensive line, but they have been using the safety blitz effectively and the 49ers don't want to get Smith tattooed playing behind an offensive line starting two rookies. But the 49ers will need to attempt to stretch the field occasionally because they are going to have to put up some points to keep pace with the Cardinals' offense. Arizona WRs Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald both topped 100 receiving yards in the first meeting. They are too much for 49ers CBs Shawntae Spencer and Bruce Thornton to handle without San Francisco devising effective blitz packages to prevent QB Warner from having time to step up in the pocket.

FAST FACTS: Cardinals: Warner, who is 5-0 against San Francisco, has a 100.3 fourth-quarter passer rating this season. ... LT Leonard Davis has 12 false start penalties in 11 games. 49ers: WR Brandon Lloyd already has a career-high 577 receiving yards. ... The 49ers have not lost to the Cardinals in San Francisco since 1978, when the franchise still was located in St. Louis.

BY THE NUMBERS: 99 - Tackles linebacker Derek Smith has recorded this season. He has already recorded 100 or stops in eight straight seasons. Miami's Zach Thomas and Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks have recorded triple-digits in sacks nine consecutive years. 31: The winning team in this series has scored 31 points in each of the last three meetings. The 49ers won both games last year by identical 31-28 scores in overtime - San Francisco's only two victories of the year.


"I don't know if 'deliver' is the word, but to see glimpses, that's not out of the question. There are five games left and I think that we're all trying to get better. Obviously, the goal is to win every game one at a time. At the same time, my goal is to improve from game to game. I think if everyone from the fans, to my teammates, to the coaches, sees improvements going into the off-season then that will be a big thing" - 49ers quarterback Alex Smith on the remainder of the season.

"Honestly, I watched film and a lot of this stuff is just pathetic, just to say the least. There were times where they were right there. I could see if it was a situation where they were blocked or couldn't see. Man, you've got a plain view." - WR Anquan Boldin, on his belief that officials are not giving the team any calls. Boldin drew two 15-yard penalties last weekend, one for pulling a defender to the ground after the whistle and another for removing his helmet after not getting what he believed should have been a pass interference call against a defender.

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