Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals vs. 49ers Preview: The History, Numbers & Connections Behind the Rivalry

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With a win this weekend the San Francisco 49ers will have their first three-game winning streak since 2011. The 49ers and Arizona Cardinals are tied for second place in the NFC West, with a 3-2 record. The winner of Sunday’s game has a chance to tie for first place, if the Seattle Seahawks lose. Either way, the stakes are high for the 49ers as they look to continue their recent success in the past two games.

The Niners offense has returned to form with a power running that utilizes running back Frank Gore. Last week, he had 81 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. QB Colin Kaepernick was not relied on much for his arm, completing only six passes for 113 yards. He did find Vernon Davis in the end zone for a 64-yard TD reception. Davis finished the night with three receptions for 88 yards. In order to beat the Cardinals on Sunday, all three will need to have a good game.

San Francisco’s defense has been carrying the team during the two-game winning streak. Against the Texans last week, they forced four turnovers and converted them all into points.

The defensive backups for the 49ers are receiving plenty of attention and rightfully so. Cornerback Tramaine Brock had two INTs, one of which he returned 18 yards for a TD last week. He was filling in for an injured Nnamdi Asomugha. Replacing defensive tackle Ray McDonald in the win over Houston was Tony Jerod-Eddie who recorded his first-career INT. Jerod-Eddie might be needed again if McDonald cannot finish the game against the Cardinals because of his right biceps injury.

Equally impressive has been linebacker Michael Wilhoite who has filled in for an injured Patrick Willis. Since Willis has been out, Whilhoite has recorded 20 tackles. Patrick was listed as questionable on the injury list for Sunday’s game, but he has practiced all week with no setbacks. As good as Wilhoite has played, having Willis back will give the defense a huge advantage against the Cardinals.

Here is a look at the history, numbers and connections behind Sunday’s game:

The History

The rivalry between the 49ers and Cardinals started heating up in 2002 when Arizona moved to the NFC West. Since the move, San Francisco has a 14-8 record against their division foes. In the last meeting, the Niners won 27-13 in San Francisco. With a victory, the Niners will have a three-game winning not only on the season, but against the Cardinals.

This marks the 44th meeting between the clubs, with the 49ers holding an edge in the all-time series, 26-17. The 49ers have a four-game winning streak at Candlestick Park over the Cardinals and have won seven of the previous eight matchups overall.

Series Record: 26-17

49ers Home Record vs. Cardinals: 15-5

49ers Away Record vs. Cardinals: 11-9

First Meeting: November 18, 1951, Chicago Cardinals won at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

Last Meeting:  December 30, 2012, 49ers won 27-13 at San Francisco.

Current Streak: 2

Longest 49ers Winning Streak: 5 (three times: September 14, 1980-October 18, 1987; October 24, 1993-Decemeber 21, 2002; September 13, 2009-November 20, 2011)

Longest Cardinals Winning Streak: 4 (two times: October 6, 1974; December 2, 1979; October 2, 2005-December 24, 2006)

Most 49ers Points: 50 (December 7, 2003) Final score: 50-14

Most Cardinals Points: 34 (two times: October 6, 1974; September 10, 2006) Final scores: 34-9, 34-27

49ers Shutouts: None

Cardinals Shutouts: None

The Numbers

2013 Comparison

49ERS (rank) CARDINALS (rank)

3-2 (t-2nd NFCW) Record 3-2 (t-2nd NFCW)

22.6 (18th) Points Per Game 18.2 (28th)

321.8 (25th) Total Offense 306.2 (30th)

140.2 (6th) Rushing Offense 81.0 (23rd)

181.6 (31st) Passing Offense 225.2 (22nd)

28:40 (24th) Possession Average 28:25 (26th)

19.6 (12th) Points Allowed Per Game 19.0 (t-10th)

302.4 (5th) Total Defense 343.4 (15th)

113.6 (20th) Rushing Defense 79.0 (3rd)

188.8 (2nd) Passing Defense 264.4 (19th)

13 (t-14th) Sacks 14 (t-11th)

6 (t-10th) Interceptions 7 (t-3rd)

48.7 (5th) Punting Avg. (Gross) 44.5 (23rd)

0 (t-18th) Turnover Differential 0 (t-18th)

  • 2: Sunday will mark Anquan Boldin’s second game against the Cardinals. In Boldin’s first game against his former team, he caught seven passes for 145 yards to help the Ravens beat Arizona, 30-27.
  • 15.1: Boldin has averaged 15.1 yards per catch, ranking 6th in the NFL
  • 4: VernonDavis has four receiving touchdowns this the season, the 2nd most among tight ends in the NFC
  • 2.9: The 49ers defense has held opponents to 2.9 yards per carry on first down, ranking 3rd in the NFL
  • 969: Kaepernick’s total passing yards this season. Arizona QB Carson Palmer has 1,185 passing yards
  • 3: Patrick Peterson’s total interceptions this season, tied for second in the league
  • 15: In his first career start NaVorro Bowman led the team with a season-high 15 tackles versus Arizona on January 2, 2011
  • 6: Tarell Brown recorded six passes defensed in  a game against the Cardinals on October 29, 2012, a new career high
  • 1: Vernon Davis ranks 1st in the NFL among active tight ends with 40 receptions, 547 receiving yards and six TDs against Arizona
  • 14: Frank Gore has rushed for 994 yards and 11 touchdowns, to go along with 39 receptions for 362 yards and one touchdown in 14 games against the Cardinals
  • 8: In 8 career matchups against Arizona, Patrick Willis has recorded 93 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 FFs, and 7 PDs
  • 45: The 49ers rank t-4th in the NFL by scoring 45 points off of nine opponent’s turnovers this season. The 49ers offense has converted those turnovers into six touchdowns and one FG.
  • 25: San Francisco has a record of 25-3-1 when outrushing opponents under Jim Harbaugh in the regular season.

The Connections

  • Anquan Boldin will be facing his former Arizona team for the second time Sunday. He played for the Cardinals from 2003-2009.
  • WR Kyle Williams attended Arizona State from 2006-2009.
  • Niners QB Coach Geep Chryst spent three seasons (1996-98) with the Arizona Cardinals as a tight ends coach and quarterbacks coach.
  • Offensive line coach Mike Solari held the same position with the Phoenix Cardinals in 1989.
  • Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles played safety for the 49ers in 1991.
  • Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner played for the 49ers from 1998-2000 at defensive tackle.
  • San Francisco right guard Adam Snyder played for the Cardinals in 2012.
  • Arizona tight end Jim Dray attended Stanford from2006-2009. He played for Harbaugh for three seasons.
  • Cardinals center Mike Gibson attended Cal from 2006-2007.
  • Arizona right guard Paul Fanaika is from San Mateo, CA.
  • Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was born in Fresno, CA.
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