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Behind Enemy Lines – Cards visit mighty Niners

The San Francisco 49ers are 8-1.

You read that right. And not only are the Niners, with
first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh in first place in the
NFC West, they’ve got a 5-game lead over the Cardinals and
Seahawks with six weeks to play.

The 49ers hung on for a 27-20 win over the Giants on
Sunday, and their defense has been fierce, allowing just
15.3 points per game, the top figure in the NFL.

That’s where the suddenly resurgent Arizona Cardinals head
next, Candlestick Park in San Francisco, to try and snap a
4-game losing streak to their division foes.

During the week leading up to the game, we’ll give you a
glimpse of what’s going on by the bay with the San
Francisco 49ers…


Saturday, November 19th

49ers focused on
Cardinals; the Ravens can wait (San Francisco Chronicle)

Before fielding questions from reporters this week, 49ers offensive
coordinator Greg Roman offered a glowing assessment of the Cardinals’
defense, ending his opening remarks with an interesting statement.

“Our focus,” Roman said, “is strictly on getting ready for this game.”

49ers’ run defense
threatening NFL record (San Francisco Chronicle)

After nine games, San Francisco is the only NFL team to not allow a
rushing touchdown and it could establish an NFL record for the fewest
rushing touchdowns allowed in a season.

Vic Fangio priases Arizona’s backup quarterback (San Jose
Mercury News)

“In the last couple of weeks, he’s fallen in love with (wide receiver Larry)
Fitzgerald, which is smart on his part,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic
Fangio said of Skelton. “So I’ve been impressed with the guy.”

Starting CB Brown
hurts knee; questionable (San Jose Mercury News)

Brown banged his knee in practice , according to a team spokesman.
Brown wasn’t on Thursday’s injury report but appeared on Friday’s list
after practicing in “limited” fashion.


Friday, November 18th

Nowhere to run: 49ers defense clamps down on big plays
(Sacramento Bee)

The 49ers top-ranked run defense not only has kept opposing rushers
out of the end zone this season. It’s kept meaningful runs to a minimum.
The longest run of the year against San Francisco, 24 yards, was turned
in by a quarterback, Michael Vick. The longest run by a running back? It
was Roy Helu’s 16-yard scamper on the first play of the game in Week 9
against Washington.

Coach Tom Rathman
leading strong 49ers run game (Sacramento Bee)

Tom Rathman is slow to hand out praise and quick to tell it like it is. San
Francisco’s intense, no-nonsense running backs coach played for the
49ers during their glory days, so he knows what it takes to get to the top
and stay there.

49ers Rekindle NFC West Rivalry
(49ers.com)

On Jan. 2, the 49ers defeated then-rookie Skelton and the Cardinals 38-
7 in a Week 17 home victory at Candlestick Park. Since that day,
however, both teams have made significant changes to their respective
organizations


Thursday, November 17th

Alex
Smith nominated for Comeback POY award (SFGate.com)

Smith is one of five nominees along with Detroit
quarterback Matthew Stafford, Cowboys quarterback Tony
Romo, Packers tight end Jermichael Finley and Panthers
wide receiver Steve Smith.

There’s no ‘I’ in Harbaugh
(SFGate.com)

On Monday, Harbaugh showed even more powerfully how
serious he is about this selflessness stuff. Not because
he left a word out of a sentence, but because of the words
he added while discussing the impact of special teams
coordinator and assistant head coach Brad Seely.

National media finds good story in Santa
Clara (SFGate.com)

Two months after Niners coach Jim Harbaugh wondered aloud
about his team’s lack of air time on Sunday night
highlight shows, it appears the national media has
officially discovered the NFL’s most surprising team.

Gore held out of
practice (CSN Bay Area)

Running back Frank Gore did not take part in 49ers
practice Wednesday as he recovers from a right knee
bruise.

49ers wide receivers aren’t scoring many
touchdowns, but they’re not complaining (San Jose Mercury
News)

Braylon Edwards does not have a touchdown catch this
season. Michael Crabtree has only one. But the 49ers have
celebrated eight victories in nine games.

Walker gives 49ers options
(49ers.com)

Skywalker. Walker SF Touchdown Ranger. And perhaps best of
all, Option D, because Walker can do “All of the above.”

These were some of the best Delanie Walker nickname
suggestions that poured into the San Francisco 49ers
Twitter account on Wednesday.

Walker, a fan favorite now in his sixth season with the
49ers, has always won over the team’s Faithful supporters
with his selfless attitude and knack for making exciting
plays.


Wednesday, November 16th

Alex Smith deflects
praise (SFGate.com)

“The focus has to be about this team and winning football
games,” Smith said. “That’s what will determine what gets
written about me anyways, not how many interviews I’m
doing.”

49ers’ latest win should bring national
respect (San Francisco Examiner/Associated Press)

Ricky Jean Francois, the outspoken defensive tackle, has
no qualms acknowledging the 49ers finally silenced any
remaining doubters after Sunday’s thrilling 27-20 victory
against the New York Giants and fellow NFC division
leader.

“It might change the perspective of everybody now, that
we’re not just a team that’s a joke,” Francois said
Monday.

New contract for
Alex Smith can wait (CSN Bay Area)

When is the right time for the 49ers to begin working with
quarterback Alex Smith on a contract extension?

The answer: When the season is over.

Jim Harbaugh, Alex Smith look to avoid trap
game (SB Nation Bay Area)

Over the past couple seasons, the San Francisco 49ers and
Arizona Cardinals have combined for some solid matchups.
Even when one of the two teams is streaking and the other
is slumping, the familiarity between the two has kept the
games close and interesting. The players know each other
well, but there’s some new wrinkles this season, mostly
for the 49ers.


Tuesday, November 15th

49ers’
Justin Smith and his game-winning play (San Francisco
Chronicle)

Smith said he was too tired to pass rush, and instead put
his right hand in the air and happened to make contact
with the ball.

Frank Gore, set to play Sunday, has good
support (San Francisco
Chronicle)

In Gore’s absence, rookie Kendall Hunter (six carries, 40
yards) had a 17-yard touchdown run, and Anthony Dixon had
10 yards on two carries. Dixon had four carries for 10
yards in the season’s first eight games.

CB Rogers dances his way to NFL-high 5
interceptions (San Francisco
Chronicle)

On Sunday, however, Rogers broke from his own protocol and
shimmied after picking off Eli Manning in the second
quarter. The pass was intended for Giants wide receiver
Victor Cruz and Rogers celebrated with the “Salsa Dance” –
the dance Cruz uses after scoring touchdowns.

Harbaugh praises
49ers’ assistant coaches (CSN Bay Area)

Coach Jim Harbaugh gave endorsements Monday to his three
top assistants as having what it takes to become
successful head coaches.

Highlights from Harbaugh’s Monday presser
(San Jose Mercury News)

Coach Jim Harbaugh exited his press conference with a
happy grin. He had indirectly answered a question
regarding officiating, doing so in a coy way to imply that
he was correct and officials now see that in terms of the
49ers’ offensive shifts. Harbaugh has reason to be in a
good move, and this is the chief reason: an 8-1 record.


Monday, November 14th

49ers
rally, hold of New York Giants 27-20 (San Francisco
Chronicle)

Mr. Clutch fell short against Mr. Game Manager.

That would be 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who completed
19 of 30 passes for 242 yards and tossed a go-ahead,
fourth-quarter touchdown to tight end Vernon Davis. Smith
followed by connecting with wide receiver Michael Crabtree
on the two-point conversion to give San Francisco a 20-13
lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Gore
sidelined with a knee injury (San Francisco Chronicle)

Injuries for Gore are piling up. He sprained his right
ankle against Dallas, his left ankle last week in
Washington and now has a wrenched knee. However, Gore
walked out of the locker room without a limp after the
game.

Jim Harbaugh’s team no longer can be
underrated (San Francisco Chronicle)

At some point, we all have to stop looking at the 49ers as
a fluke, and that point might have been Sunday afternoon
at about 4 o’clock, and that’s bad news for Jim Harbaugh.

You can’t underestimate
these 49ers anymore (San Jose Mercury News)

It is time to go there with the 49ers. After Sunday, it is
time. So here goes: After their 27-20 victory over the New
York Giants, a hand-to-hand struggle of NFL observation-
deck level proportions, the 49ers must seriously be
considered Super Bowl contenders.

Harbaugh touts
Justin Smith as MVP candidate (CSN Bay Area)

“He’s a great player,” Harbaugh said of Smith, who has
earned back-to-back trips to the Pro Bowl. “He’s having a
great year. He should be in the MVP category,
conversation. He’s having that kind of a year for us.

Alex Smith keeps winning
(49ers.com)

When people say “game manager” to describe Smith’s play,
Harbaugh looks at it as a positive that his quarterback is
always in control of the game.