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Behind Enemy Lines: San Francisco 49ers

After starting the season 4-0, the Arizona Cardinals have lost three straight games. Their offensive line has allowed a total of 35 sacks this season and a once energized fan base is beginning to lose hope.

This week, the Cardinals have a chance to make everything right again when they take on their division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, on Monday night.

The Niners are currently one game ahead of the Cardinals in the NFC West standings and have won five of the last six meetings.

Led by workhouse running back Frank Gore and a hard hitting defense, San Francisco will be a very tough matchup for Arizona.

Monday, October 29

49ers visit Cardinals on Monday (SF Gate)

At 4-3, the Cardinals could tie the 49ers (5-2) for the division lead and hold a tiebreaker edge with a win. With a loss, Arizona would begin to lose contact with the defending division champions, who won the West in 2011 by five games.

Gore says rib pain has lessened ‘a lot’ (SF Gate)

Gore was a full participant in practice this week, but he acknowledged the real test will come when he takes his first hit against the Cardinals, who have allowed 331 rushing yards in their past two games.

49ers key matchup No. 1: Crabtree vs. Peterson (CSN Bay Area)

In two meetings last season, Crabtree had success getting deep on double moves against Peterson. Crabtree had seven catches for 120 yards in the 49ers’ 23-7 victory at Candlestick Park. Three weeks later, Crabtree had seven receptions for 63 yards in the 49ers’ 21-19 loss.

San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals share intense rivalry (

No, it’s not as historic as the Bears-Packers, Cowboys-Redskins or Raiders-Chiefs. It’s also not the type of high-stakes rivalry the 49ers have forged with the Cowboys and Giants. But the 49ers and Cardinals aren’t friendly neighbors in the increasingly competitive NFC West.

Friday, October 26

49ers might get sack-happy in Arizona (SF Gate)

“Thirty five sacks in five games? That’s almost unheard of,” Gruden said. “I’m sure Aldon Smith, I’m sure Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks, those guys are excited to play. Hopefully, the Arizona Cardinals can find some rhythm as far as pass protection … Whatever it is, they’ve got to do a better job of protecting John Skelton or he’s in trouble.”

Harbaugh appreciates Goldson’s toughness (Yahoo! Sports)

“He’s got a real toughness about him,” Harbaugh said. “He’s built up a real callus when it comes to physical-contact courage. the going from point A to point B, and go hit somebody. …

49ers O-Line Wins Weekly Madden Award (

“The 49ers offensive line needed to step up against Seattle’s defense and they did just that,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach John Madden.

San Francisco 49ers notebook: Quarterback Alex Smith says confidence not shaken (San Jose Mercury News)

“People are just reading into a lot of different stuff and have no idea what’s going on around here,” Smith said. “My confidence is no different than it was a week ago, than it was a month ago, than it was a year ago.”

San Francisco 49ers’ Randy Moss named one of NFL’s least-liked players (San Jose Mercury News)

Moss’ 24-percent approval ranking ranks behind only those of Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh (19 percent), Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (21 percent) and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (23 percent).

Thursday, October 25

Gameday Story: Everyone Loves Ray (

One of the most unheralded defenders is defensive tackle Ray McDonald, a hard-working lineman who’s earned the respect of his teammates and coaches with his consistent approach. Find out why everyone loves Ray McDonald.

Seahawks’ Sherman takes swipe at former coach, Harbaugh (SF Gate)

“Sometimes, man, when the bully gets bullied, that’s how that happens,” Sherman said, according to the Seattle Times’ Danny O’Neil.

Andy Lee takes on Patrick Peterson (SF Gate)

For his next assignment Monday night, Lee will attempt to limit one of the NFL’s brightest special-teams stars: Cardinals cornerback and punt-return extraordinaire Patrick Peterson.

DeBartolo’s ‘Football Life’ special is must-see TV (San Jose Mercury News)

Eddie DeBartolo’s ownership reign of the 49ers should someday, perhaps as soon as Feb. 2, be celebrated with induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Helping state DeBartolo’s case is a comprehensive video retrospective that debuted Wednesday.

Offensive Line is the Cutting Edge to 49ers’ Offense (NBC Bay Area)

The Fab Five up front are getting the job done, especially in the running game, and have been ranked the No. 1 line in the NFL in one analysis

49ers aren’t winning popularity contests (Lindy’s Sports)

Are the San Francisco 49ers the most hated team in the league? Maybe. They seem to have created animosity from several corners, including this week’s opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.

Wednesday, October 24

San Francisco 49ers tweet congratulations to San Francisco Giants (Inside Bay Area)

The Giants are headed to the World Series for the second time in three seasons, and the 49ers are among those celebrating Monday night’s 9-0 win over St. Louis that clinched the National League crown.

Frank Gore, Mario Manningham questionable after Week 7 (SB Nation)

The NFC West leading San Francisco 49ers could still be without two key playmakers when they face the Arizona Cardinals in a division head-to-head on Monday. Running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Mario Manningham are both listed as questionable following Week 7 action against the Seattle Seahawks last Thursday.

San Francisco 49ers grab another exec from Facebook (CNN Money)

Exclusive: Silicon Valley’s football team has made another big hire, taking its new CFO from the ranks of Zuckerberg’s nearby talent farm.

So Far, 49ers’ Rookies Have Yet to Make an Impact (NBC Bay Area)

Top picks Jenkins and James still waiting to contribute to Niners team that is off to a 5-2 start in 2012

49ers recovering after 2 games in 5 days

With 10 days between the 49ers’ 13-6 win against Seattle and a trip to Arizona, coach Jim Harbaugh has the opportunity to give his team some much-needed rest. The 49ers had the weekend off and, after a light practice Monday, won’t practice again until Thursday as preparation for the Cardinals ramps up.

Tuesday, October 23

Harbaugh, Carroll battle in sound bites (SF Gate)

Four days after the 49ers‘ knockdown, drag-out 13-6 win over the Seahawks, the hits kept coming Monday.
This time, the combatants were the coaches.

Progress for Gore: He can sleep on side (SF Gate)

Gore, who termed it the most painful injury he’s played through, also had difficulty taking deep breaths in the aftermath of a 13-6 win over Seattle. Four days after sustaining the injury, though, he went though Monday’s non-contact practice and expressed optimism that he’ll play on Oct. 29 at Arizona.

San Francisco 49ers mindful of misusing Colin Kaepernick (

Coincidence or not, in each of the past two games, Alex Smith had a pass intercepted on the ensuing play after a Kaepernick snap. The 49ers’ production the past two games: one touchdown in 21 offensive series, not counting their kneel-down drive that capped Thursday night’s 13-6 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh calls win over Seahawks best game he’s been involved with in a decade (

“It was great, a tremendous game,” Harbaugh said on his KNBR 680-AM show. “I don’t know what fans thought of it. From my perspective, it was the best game I think I’ve been involved in in a decade, where both teams played their guts out.”

LaMichael James: I need to learn the NFL game (Sacramento Bee)

James says he’s constantly hearing from University of Oregon fans — and even quite a few 49ers fans — who ask when he’s going to get on the field. James has been inactive for every game this season and, along with most of his draft class, has been relegated to playing the role of an upcoming opponent on the scout team.

Monday, October 22

Where’s Vernon? TE has been a rumor recently in passing game (SF Gate)

Davis had no success as a pass-catcher last week. He wasn’t targeted with any of Alex Smith’s 23 passes and didn’t have a catch for the first time since Nov. 30, 2008, snapping a streak of 58 straight games with a reception.

Harbaugh questions pass-defense tactics (SF Gate)

In San Francisco’s 13-6 win, Harbaugh claimed, Seattle’s big-bodied corners, Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, were too handsy in coverage. San Francisco’s wide receivers had six catches for 63 yards on 14 targets and were routinely contacted beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.

49ers take sole possession of NFC West lead (CSN California)

The Arizona Cardinals, who began the season 4-0, fell one full game behind the 49ers in the standings with a 21-14 loss at the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers’ Frank Gore on the mend after painful night (Mercury News)

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore suffered bruised ribs in the team’s 13-6 win over the Seattle Seahawks. However, Gore seems confident that it will not force him to miss any time.

49ers running back Frank Gore is San Francisco’s midseason MVP (

The franchise’s all-time leading rusher, Frank Gore, has been the most consistent and most productive offensive players this season for the 49ers. When he is running the ball well, San Francisco wins.

Do San Francisco 49ers really trust Alex Smith? (

Despite being the top rated passer in the league, the 49ers still do not seem to be completely sold on starting quarterback Alex Smith.