Brian Hoyer will start at quarterback for the Cardinals in the season finale.
Brian Hoyer has thrown 62 passes in his career and completed 38 of them.
He suited up for a Super Bowl.
But he's never been a starting quarterback in the NFL. Until this week.
Hoyer has waited four years and more than 50 games for this. On Wednesday, coach Ken Whisenhunt gave Hoyer, who joined the Cardinals on Dec. 10, a few days after the Pittsburgh Steelers released him, a late Christmas gift.
Hoyer, Whisenhunt said, proved in less than a half against Chicago, that he was capable of directing the offense Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
"This is an opportunity I have waited a long time for," Hoyer said. "I didn't think it'd come with the Arizona Cardinals this year. But I am happy it did. When you get an opportunity like this you just have to prepare the best you can and make the most of it."
Hoyer was 11-of-19 passing for 105 yards and an interception against the Bears last week after he replaced starter Ryan Lindley early in the third quarter. Until that point, Hoyer had just six practices in the Cardinals system – none of them with the first-team offense – but Whisenhunt was impressed with Hoyer's accuracy and timing.
"This isn't a tryout," Whisenhunt said. "I think he merited that based on the way he played in the game last weekend. It is an opportunity to see how he handles that with a week of practice.
"I also think from what we saw last week, he did some nice things in the game, and see if he can build off of that."
Hoyer's comfort level with the offense grows every day. Give him a full week of practice with the starters and it will help it all "sink" in, Hoyer added. He was able to acclimate to the offense quickly against Chicago by using wristbands with the plays on them.
Hoyer knew when the Cardinals signed him with three weeks left in the season there might be an opportunity to play but he's not letting the news from Whisenhunt get him overly excited.
"A few years ago I might've been but when you are at this level of the game for a little while, you have to be ready at all time, so it gives you a little bit of a calm," Hoyer said. "Before, when you are a backup, it's more 'Am I going to play, am I not going to play?' Now I know I'm going to be out there. It takes the unknown out of it."
KAEPERNICK HAS BIG SHOES TO FILL AGAINST CARDS
The last time a 49ers' quarterback faced the Cardinals, he flirted with perfection.
A lot has happened since Alex Smith went 18-for-19 on "Monday Night Football" in Arizona on Oct. 29. Namely, Colin Kaepernick has replaced Smith as San Francisco's starter, leading the 49ers to a 4-2 record at the helm. But Kaepernick isn't planning on repeating Smith's near-perfect feat.
"I can't tell you" if it's going to happen, he said. "We're just going to go out there and compete and try to do the best we can."
Kaepernick said the 49ers' locker room stood behind him immediately after coach Jim Harbaugh handed the keys to the rookie quarterback. Harbaugh hasn't wavered, either.
"The reason was we did what we feel would be best for us to win the next game," Harbaugh said. "He's acquitted himself very well."
SIX CARDS SIT OUT
Wide receiver Early Doucet missed his seventh straight practice while recovering from a concussion. Also not practicing Wednesday were WR Laron Byrd (knee), G Mike Gibson (calf), T Nate Potter (ankle), RB Anthony Sherman (knee) and S Adrian Wilson (illness).
Limited in practice were S Rashad Johnson (hamstring), S James Sanders (calf), DE Ronald Talley (ankle) and DT Dan Williams (hamstring).
For the first time in three weeks, CB Greg Toler (hamstring) began a week practicing in full.
For the 49ers, TE Vernon Davis (concussion) and DT Justin Smith (shoulder) did not practice. Among the limited were CB Tarell Brown (shoulder/knee), CB Carlos Rogers (knee/toe) and LB Aldon Smith (knee). In all, San Francisco has 16 players on its injury report.