It hasn't been pretty, but the Arizona Cardinals have found a way to win each of the last two weeks against the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With those two consecutive wins over NFC South foes, the Cardinals' record improved to 3-2, which is a good thing considering they're about to embark on one of the toughest stretches of the 2013 schedule.
Next up for Arizona is a date with their division rival and the reigning NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers.
While both teams have an identical record heading into their clash at Candlestick Park, there's no question Bruce Arians' squad will have its hands full Sunday afternoon.
After suffering their first two-game losing streak in the Jim Harbaugh Era, the 49ers have righted the ship with two dominant wins over the St. Louis Rams (35-11) and Houston Texans (34-3).
To make matters worse for the Red Birds, they haven't won in the Bay Area since Sept. 2008.
Friday, October 11
49ers injury report: Kap's foot a non-factor (CSNBayArea.com)
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, listed as "probable" on the official 49ers injury report Friday with a foot injury, has no limitations, coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Brock's new role keeps Asomugha on sideline (CSNBayArea.com)
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had "the talk" with veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha last week.
Asomugha was physically well enough to play against the Houston Texans after sitting out the Sept. 26 game against the St. Louis Rams with a banged-up right knee. But the 49ers decided Tramaine Brock would get the nod over Asomugha as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback.
Smith has been foolish, stupid, self-destructive, reckless. But he's not Aaron Hernandez. Not even close.
Double Coverage: Cardinals at 49ers (ESPN.com)
A battle of 3-2 NFC West teams is on hand as the San Francisco 49ers welcome the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. ESPN.com's Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson discuss the key division game.
49ers' special teams vastly improve (ESPN.com)
The unit has been fast and looks to be working together. Newcomers Kassim Osgood and Bubba Ventrone have been fine additions be a unit that has been led by C.J. Spillman, who is having another strong season.
49ers likely to stick with ground game (ESPN.com)
The 49ers have rushed for at least 175 yards in their past two games. According to ESPN Stats & Information, that's the first time they've done that in 12 seasons. Frank Gore is averaging a 6.3 yards a carry in the past two games. Expect to see a lot of Gore on the ground against the Cardinals, whose defensive strength is against the pass.
Cardinals-49ers matchup No. 3: Iupati vs. Campbell (CSN Bay Area)
Approximately 75 percent of time Campbell will line up across from the left side of the 49ers' offensive line. Most of the time, he'll be matched against 49ers All-Pro left guard Mike Iupati.
Iupati, who was dominant a year ago, is off to an up-and-down start. He ranks 46th in the NFL among all guards, according to Pro Football Focus' grading system. He has not been as dominant in the run game as a year ago, and he has been beaten in pass protection, too.
Double-teamed Boldin represents 49ers' only WR threat (CSN Bay Area)
The reason is simple: The 49ers have not gotten any production from another wide receiver. Without another threat on the outside, defenses can place most of their attention on Boldin while playing man coverage against anyone else the 49ers line up at wide receiver.
49ers silent about Kap's appearance on injury report (CSN Bay Area)
Kaepernick has taken part in full practices and is expected to play without any limitations Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
However, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman declined Thursday to shed any light on Kaepernick's condition.
On Wednesday, Willis donned shoulder pads in practice for the first time since he was injured in Week 3 against the Colts. Today, he said he's made encouraging progress since he tested his injury in warm-ups before last week's 34-3 win over Houston.
Citing his two knee constructions in college, Nolan never envisioned Gore rushing for back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons in Gore's 7th and 8th years in the league. In truth, no one could predict that for Gore or any other running back.
Thursday, October 10
The 49ers defensive tackle will find out Sunday when he plays against the Cardinals, a week after he was injured in a 34-3 win over the Texans. McDonald exited in the third quarter after he felt a mild pain when he was fending off a block before a tap-down sack of Matt Schaub.
Passing game struggles don't worry Kaepernick (SF Examiner)
"The only stat I really care about is whether we won or not," Kaepernick said Wednesday. "I'm happy with wins, consecutive wins. That's the biggest thing for us. As long as we're winning, that's all that matters."
Should 49ers cut ties with Smith? (ESPN.com)
Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless debate whether the 49ers should cut ties with LB Aldon Smith after he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon.
Kaepernick helps self with media effort (ESPN.com)
As the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick is a face of the franchise. He has the power to mold the message during the good and bad. After a rough news conference to start the season, Kaepernick seems to be starting to understand that role.
Harbaugh wouldn't run from 'Hard Knocks' (ESPN.com)
Harbaugh said if the 49ers are chosen, he will go along with it. Yet, he didn't sound like it would be the worst thing he ever experienced. Plus, he said he is a fan of the show even though he said he's not been tempted to ask for the 49ers to be featured.
49ers, Bethel-Thompson back where they started (CSN Bay Area)
The 49ers added McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the initial 90-man roster of the Harbaugh regime. The 49ers wanted to add a veteran, but were not interested in either David Carr or Troy Smith from the 2010 roster.
Smith's latest issue screams 'rest of the year off' (CSN Bay Area)
Aldon Smith's latest brush with infamy - the felony gun charge brought against him Wednesday - pretty much screams the rest of the year off, just to help him get all the parts of his life together. Even if the charges are reduced to misdemeanors, it seems clear his plate is very full indeed without the breezy nonsense excuse of "We thought playing was the best thing for him, and that's the decision we made."
49ers' Kaepernick, Cardinals' Palmer winning despite mediocre stats (San Jose Mercury News)
Their passing stats were far from glorious. But the 49ers' and Arizona Cardinals' quarterbacks are, at least, riding two-game win streaks into Sunday's meeting at Candlestick Park.
Wedmesday, October 9
Skuta Studies up on Carson Palmer, Cardinals (49ers.com)
When Dan Skuta was teammates with Carson Palmer in Cincinnati during the 2009, '10 seasons, he was - in the words of the ex-Bengals quarterback - "a great special teamer without a position."
Three years later, Skuta has secured his spot with the 49ers entering their Week 6 matchup against Palmer's Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park.
49ers claim QB Bethel-Thompson, waive Skelton (49ers.com)
The San Francisco 49ers have claimed QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings. To make room for Bethel-Thompson on the roster, the team has waived QB John Skelton.
DA: 49ers' Aldon Smith Faces Felony Weapons, Misdemeanor DUI Charges (NBCBayArea.com)
The Santa Clara County District Attorney has charged 49ers All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith with three felony weapons assault charges, prosecutors announced on Wednesday. The charges stem from a June 2012 house party hosted by the 24-year-old Smith where he was stabbed and two others were shot, and deputies later found a cache of assault rifles, magazines and ammunition.
Colin Kaepernick Values Wins over Stats (49ers.com)
The 49ers quarterback continues to be in the spotlight coming off a 6-completion performance against the Houston Texans.
Kaepernick insisted he had no problem with his 113-yard passing performance. He only attempted 15 passes in the Week 5 win over the Houston Texans, but the production didn't bother Kaepernick very much.
"The only stat I really care about is whether we won or not," he said.
League honors Tremaine Brock (ESPN.com)
The league honored Brock as the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the 49ers' 34-3 win over Houston. Brock had two interceptions in the game, including one he returned 18 yards for a touchdown on the third offensive play of the game. It set the tone for a huge night for the 49ers.
Could London come calling for 49ers again? (ESPN.com)
The San Francisco 49ers are headed to London later this month and will play there for the second time in three years. It is not out of the question for the 49ers to return next season.
49ers vs. Cardinals: A Prospector's Guide (NinersNation.com)
The San Francisco 49ers host the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PT, in their third divisional game of the season, and their first home divisional matchup. The 49ers have claimed seven of the last eight games in this series dating back to 2009.
Tuesday, October 8
No serious injury for Ray McDonald (ESPN.com)
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh told San Francisco radio station KNBR on Tuesday that it appears standout defensive tackle Ray McDonald escaped serious injury Sunday night in a 34-3 win over Houston.
Corey Lemonier getting early chance (ESPN.com)
Lemonier has played the past two games while Smith is in rehab for substance abuse. He is splitting time with Dan Skuta, who is getting a lot of work in passing situations and has also shined on special teams. Smith could be back on the field sometime next month, but even then Lemonier likely will have a role.
Report: 49ers 'unlikely' to acquire Gordon from Browns (CSN Bay Area)
The 49ers are "unlikely" to agree to a trade with the Cleveland Browns for wide receiver Josh Gordon, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Monday. The sides have reportedly discussed the possibility of a trade.
Kaepernick's No. 7 is NFL's No. 1 Selling Jersey (49ers.com)
he 49ers third-year quarterback paces a top 25 list that includes seven signal-callers' uniforms among the top 10. Rounding out the first five overall are Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos), Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks), Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) and Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins).
Role reversal: This time, injury opens door for CB Brock (San Francisco Chronicle)
Two years after he lost his nickel cornerback spot because of his broken finger, it appears Tramaine Brock will earn it back because of Nnamdi Asomugha's banged-up knee.
Monday, October 7
Upon Further Review: San Francisco 49ers (ESPN.com)
The 49ers scored 34 points and quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed only six passes. But it didn't matter. The 49ers dominated this game against the Texans. Kaepernick passed when he had to.
Harbaugh: WR Crabtree could return as soon as mid-November (San Francisco Chronicle)
Jim Harbaugh said wide receiver Michael Crabtree has started running and could be ready to play by as soon as mid-November after he sustained a torn Achilles on May 21. In addition, wide receiver Mario Manningham could return to practice next week after he sustained two torn knee ligaments on Dec. 23.
Take it away, defense (SFGate.com)
Thanks to the historically pick-six-prone Matt Schaub, the 49ers finally might have identified a productive No. 2 wide receiver: Tramaine Brock. The 49ers' No. 3 cornerback had two first-half interceptions and became the latest beneficiary of Schaub's habit of throwing touchdowns to the wrong team in San Francisco's 34-3 romp over Houston on Sunday night at Candlestick Park.
Musty stadium, but hosts seem refreshed (SFGate.com)
Are the gods of tradition sending a message? The 49ers have played great at home the past few seasons. The Warriors had a great season. The A's are swingin'. What they all have in common: They all play in buildings that the owners want to get out of ASAP.
Reserves step up in 49ers' victory (CSNBayArea.com)
Tramaine Brock and inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite, in particular, stepped into larger roles in Sunday's nationally televised game against the Texans and delivered in a big way.