Cardinals linebacker Alex Okafor (57) tries to snare 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during last year's 20-17 loss in San Francisco.
A trap game? The Cardinals insist their trip to San Francisco is anything but.
"We haven't won in their stadium since 2008," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "That's been talked about a lot."
For all the discussion about how hard it is to win in the Seattle, since the Super Bowl year of 2008 the Cardinals have actually won there four times out of eight games. The Bay Area has been a tougher conquest. Ever since that grind-it-out win behind Edgerrin James' 100 yards rushing in '08, the Niners have beaten the Cards six straight times going into
Circumstances are different, yes. The Cardinals have their best team since 2008 (and arguably this team is more talented) while the 49ers have their worst team in that time. It's hard to forget the 47-7 beatdown the Cardinals put on the 49ers earlier this season at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"Even when we were making our deep playoff pushes, they always gave us trouble," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "We understand the kind of game it's going to be. We have to play better than we've played the last few weeks.
"You can get your butt whooped any single week."
The Cardinals were favored in the 2009 matchup, a Monday night affair which dissolved into a mess of seven turnovers during a 24-9 loss. Since then, the 49ers have had the better team in the games at San Francisco, even last year, as Jim Harbaugh made his final appearance as 49ers coach with Ryan Lindley quarterbacking the playoff-bound Cardinals.
That's enough to grab the Cards' attention, even if the Niners have Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and a decimated defense.
"It's not an issue," Palmer said. "If it was, it'd be handled. We have a lot of vets in this locker room. It's a very tunnel-vision focus right now. Guys understand that it's about one day at a time. This is not a trap game. This is not a letdown game.
"We understand how important this game is to us and what it would mean to them to knock us off. Like I said, we haven't won in San Francisco since my kids were alive."
BEING CAREFUL WITH BUCANNON; PETERSON SHOULD PLAY
Safety Deone Bucannon started feeling concussion symptoms Wednesday after practice, and he was put into the concussion protocol. Bucannon passed and was limited in practice Friday, and his status will be a game-day decision for
Coach Bruce Arians said Bucannon wants to play, but the Cards will be "very careful with Deone."
"It's the coach's decision, man," said Bucannon, who doesn't know exactly when the injury might have happened. "I love playing. Shoot. He knows how I feel. It's out of my hands."
If Bucannon can't go, Sean Weatherspoon will start at the dollar linebacker position. Arians also said defensive linemen Frostee Rucker and Cory Redding (both with ankle injuries) will not play.
But everyone else is trending towards being able to play, including cornerback Patrick Peterson, who looked good returning punts during the open part of practice Friday despite his ankle injury. Peterson said he was still sore, but is hopeful he will be on the field against the 49ers.
Officially questionable for the Cardinals are Peterson, Bucannon, defensive tackle Ed Stinson (groin), guard Jonathan Cooper (knee) and wide receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring).
For the 49ers, running back Carlos Hyde (foot) is out. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks (concussion) is questionable.
PETERSON'S BABY WORKS WITH THE SCHEDULE
Back in training camp, Larry Fitzgerald was giving Patrick Peterson some grief that when Peterson's daughter was finally born, Peterson might miss a game. Peterson insisted then he would never miss a game.
His daughter worked with him on the subject.
Paityn Antonique Peterson was born at 10:05 p.m. Thanksgiving night, clearing the way for Peterson to be able to play Sunday in San Francisco with no birth conflict.
"She listened to me," Peterson said. "I told her, 'Come on out of there, little turkey. Mom and Dad are ready to see you.' She came out Thursday night, so she's a daddy's girl already."
Peterson only got about 90 minutes sleep before coming to the facility Friday, but he showed no ill effects from his sprained ankle and Arians expects him to be ready to play.
"I told Coach this morning, by me having a baby, I have a little bit better pep in my step," Peterson said.
Arians said veteran linebacker LaMarr Woodley has partially torn his pectoral muscle a few games ago, but when Woodley tore it fully against the Bengals last weekend, it made little sense to do anything but place him on season-ending injured reserve. Arians told Woodley just to prepare for 2016.
Woodley is on one-year contract, and is scheduled to be a free agent after the season.
"Wood and I talked about bringing him back next year, yeah," Arians said.
Images of key players from this week's opponent, the San Francisco 49ers