Mike Nolan on Sirius NFL Radio

Just hours before learning of the four-game suspension of wide receiver Antonio Bryant for violating the league's substance abuse policy, 49ers head coach Mike Nolan talked about facing the Arizona Cardinals and the development of some of his star players.

At 6-8, the 49ers are still mathematically alive in the NFC playoff race, so their matchup with division rival Arizona has plenty of significance for head coach Mike Nolan and his young team this weekend.

Nolan was a guest on Sirius NFL Radio and talked about the challenge of playing the Cardinals, and what impresses him about their offense.

"We have not beaten Arizona in the last two years, and Arizona's a good, physical team," he said. "I think that Arizona has a little bit of the same formula that we've used in the conference to win some games, and that's to play physical."

Just hours before learning that one of his own wide receivers, Antonio Bryant, would be hit with a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Nolan showed plenty of respect for his opponent's wide receiver corps of Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Bryant Johnson.

"They're a competitive group, they're a physical group at the same time," he said. "Personally, that's the kind of wide receiving corps that I'd like to have ... We do have competitive guys, but they aren't as big as those guys. They've got some size in their wide receiver corps."

Nolan also talked about quarterback Alex Smith and his calm demeanor and overall performance against Seattle over a week ago during a Thursday night game, and explained why Smith's performance in the first three quarters was just as important in what he did in the fourth quarter to win.

And then he talked extensively about his star running back Frank Gore, what prompted him to make the Kevan Barlow trade, and how Gore worked through some early season struggles with fumbles.

"It was easy to see that Frank was the real deal," Nolan said. "Then being around Frank just reinforced it from the standpoint of his passion to play the game. He's extremely easy to like from a personal standpoint, so the players play very hard for him. Our line loves to block for Frank."

You can listen to the entire 12-minute interview, compliments of Sirius NFL Radio, by clicking the link below:

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