49ers vs. Cardinals: Looking back at the first Mexico City matchup

The San Francisco 49ers huddle before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Estadio Azteca on October 2, 2005 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)
The San Francisco 49ers huddle before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Estadio Azteca on October 2, 2005 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images) /

We take a look back at the first meeting between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City in 2005 ahead of their return there on MNF.

The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals return to Mexico City for their Week 11 Monday Night Football matchup at the world-renowned soccer stadium, Estadio Azteca.

The Niners seem to be getting healthier just at the right time. Last week, they welcomed back running back Elijah Mitchell against the Los Angeles Chargers after not seeing him in action since an MCL injury in Week 1.

The Cardinals, though, seem to be trending in the opposite direction with injuries. Colt McCoy will be taking the reins at quarterback for the second straight game, with Kyle Murray suffering from a hamstring injury, and tight end Zach Ertz is out for the year with a torn ACL.

Regardless, it’s still game time on Nov. 21, and the Monday night meeting marks the first game back south of the border since 2019 for the NFL.

Of course, the 49ers and Cardinals are no strangers to Mexico City, having played in the NFL’s first game over at Estadio Azteca on Oct. 2, 2005.

It’s amazing how much has changed in the last 17 years, though. About the only constant is that Tom Brady is still in the league, albeit with a different team. Some coaches are still in the league today, though, in different roles.

Let’s take a look at them and some other notable things from the game in 2005.

Who was the 49ers quarterback in Mexico City?

The first game ever in Mexico City featured two teams that were both 1-3 at that point in the season. From records alone, it can be determined that neither of those teams was very good, and this was definitely not a marquee quarterback matchup.

Tim Rattay began the 2005 season as the primary starter for San Francisco, and the game against the Cardinals would be his last as a starter for the team, as he got replaced by then-rookie Alex Smith.

Rattay would go 11-of-21 for 126 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He would also be sacked three times.

This game would not only be Rattay’s last start with the 49ers but his last season on the team. He would be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roughly two weeks later as the team opted to go with Smith.

Then, 17 years later, it’s safe to say the Niners will have much better quarterback play in their Week 11 game.

Familiar faces from 49ers who are still in the NFL

A number of the assistant coaches who were coaching during that inaugural Mexico City game in 2005 are still around the league to this day, and some will be on the opposing sideline tonight.

In 2005, Vance Joseph was the assistant defensive backs coach for San Francisco, and flash forward to 2022, he is now the defensive coordinator for the Cardinals.

Joining him on that sideline tonight will be linebackers coach Bill Davis who coincidentally was the 49ers’ defensive coordinator back in 2005.

Some other familiar faces from that Niners coaching staff in 2005 who are still active in the league today are Mike McCarthy, current head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and he was San Francisco’s offensive coordinator that season. Additionally, Ben McAdoo, the current offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, was on the 2005 Niners coaching staff as an assistant offensive line coach.


The 2005 meeting between the two teams began with a bang for the 49ers. They scored two defensive touchdowns off of fumble recoveries in the first quarter to go up 14-0.

Unfortunately, those would be the last two Niners scores as their offense was incredibly ineffective with Rattay at the helm.

Read More: 49ers vs. Cardinals: Week 11 betting odds, injury report and how to watch live

The Cardinals would only score two touchdowns, too, but their kicker Neil Rackers would hit a whopping six field goals to make the final score 31-14. San Francisco gained a measly 168 yards of total offense while giving up 463 yards to the Cardinals that day.

It goes without saying, but since this year’s 49ers are averaging 360 yards per game on offense (ninth-best in the league) and allowing a league-best 280.6 yards per game on defense, the 2022 result should be much more favorable for them.

Next. Key matchups 49ers need to win vs. Cardinals on Monday night. dark