Here we thought for a short while that the San Francisco 49’ers record was a bit of a fluke. After all, it’s been almost a decade since they have been relevant. The Arizona Cardinals ended their irrelevance four years ago and seemed to be slipping that way again after last season. Then they went out and made some moves in the very short off-season that seemed would right the ship once again. Except after 11 weeks of the 2011 NFL Season, the only ship that has been righted in the NFC West is the one that is parked in San Francisco. Yesterday’s game was the first of two between the Niners and Cards and the differences between the two teams were blatantly clear even though on paper it could be argued the Cards have the better personnel. Not so. Not even close, at least when it comes to the offense.
At the beginning of the season I looked at both teams and honestly felt that overall the Cards were the better team, minus the offensive line. Now, after week 11, I look at the teams and the Niners are much better at every position.
Quarterback – Alex Smith isn’t losing games for the Niners, mainly because the Niners aren’t putting the pressure on him to consistently perform. The game plan on Smith has changed. He threw just his fourth interception of the season yesterday. He didn’t look particularly sharp at times however you can see he is a changed player from seasons past. As for the Cards, they are abysmal at the position right now. Kevin Kolb is hurt and his replacement John Skelton showed yesterday that he clearly should be the number two after Kolb returns from injury. Kolb hasn’t lit the world up as we know, but it has to be him behind center when he gets better. There is redeeming value in Richard Bartel as well.
Running Back – for the life of me I don’t understand why the Cards don’t employ the Niners game plan when it comes to running backs. Frank Gore had a decent game yesterday, not great, not bad, but good enough to help the Niners maintain ball control. The Cards Beanie Wells only carried the ball eight times for 33 yards. EIGHT times. Not good enough, especially in a game that really didn’t get away until the second half. I love a passing game as much as the next guy, but that requires having a decent PASSING quarterback. Oh, it also requires a good offensive line, which for the Cards is ridiculous. That wherein lies the biggest difference. The offensive lines. The O-line for the Niners can push people off the ball. The Cards O-line just gets pushed around. I won’t single anyone out but they really would do themselves well by finding some new guys there.
Wide Receiver – If I heard the Niners Kyle Williams played at Chaparral one more time during yesterday’s game, I was going to go postal. WE GET IT! He is a local product sticking it to the Cardinals. What else is new? Williams name of course was consistently called because he made play after play. For the Cards, Larry Fitzgerald, as is custom these days, was being doubled most of the day and for the most part was quiet with the exception of his touchdown. So that meant someone would have to step up. Early Doucet? Nope, he just spent time jawing at the Niners and acting ridiculous. Grow up. It is time that someone step up or ship out.
Tight End – Well Vernon Davis was being Vernon Davis for the Niners. This was a position that seemed to improve in the off-season for the Cards with the acquisitions of Todd Heap and Jeff King. Heap missed his millionth game yesterday and as far as I’m concerned, just IR him. I’m tired of the will he/won’t he play. We know he won’t. It’s not all his fault I know, but still, he was supposed to be that “second” receiver for the Cards. Major disappointment. He went to ASU, what do you expect? Jeff King, he started the season off hot, but I don’t honestly remember hearing his name called yesterday. Sad. Just sad and so are this year’s version of the Arizona Cardinals.