It might be the last week of the season, but the 49ers will have plenty to play for when the Arizona Cardinals come to Candlestick Park on Sunday.
San Francisco is part of a muddled NFC playoff picture that has plenty of moving parts. The 49ers (10-4-1) currently hold the No. 3 seed in the NFC, but can finish anywhere from the No. 2 to No. 5 slot when all the dust settles after Week 17.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, won’t be playing past Sunday after losing 10 of their past 11 games following a 4-0 start to the year.
“It’s been tough,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said on Wednesday’s conference call. “This business is about winning games. When you don’t do that it makes everything more difficult.”
Even though Arizona’s playoff hopes have been dashed already, there’s always pride on the line when facing a division foe like San Francisco. These two teams met in the desert on “Monday Night Football” in Week 8, when the 49ers ran away with a 24-3 victory that featured two Michael Crabtree touchdowns.
“It’s an opportunity for us to finish well and go win against a good football team,” Whisenhunt said. “I know that we have a lot of respect for that football team, they’ve been very good the past two seasons. But you also want to win. It’s important for us to play well and I think our team will be motivated to go in there and give it its best shot.”
But when these two teams previously met, former 49ers offensive line fixture Adam Snyder wasn’t suited up for the Cardinals. Arizona has been plagued by injuries this season, especially on the offensive front. Snyder, who spent the first seven years of his career with San Francisco, started out the season as a guard but has since been moved inside to center as the team tries to patch up a depleted unit.
Even though the 49ers are dealing with key injuries as well, namely Justin Smith, Snyder still expects to face a formidable opponent on Sunday.
“I know from experience that Justin’s a leader on that defense,” Snyder said. “Any time you lose a guy like that it’s going to pay some negative dividends. But they’re still a hell of a defense, with him or without him. They’ve got big-time players all over the field.”
Quarterback has been a hot topic around the Cardinals, as both Whisenhunt and Snyder noted the inconsistency under center this season. For the season finale, Brian Hoyer will make his first NFL start after being picked up by the team on waivers from Pittsburgh earlier this month. Hoyer will be the fourth quarterback to start for Arizona this year, joining Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley.
“He’s got a rocket for an arm,” Snyder said of Hoyer. “We’ll see how it pans out. He’s taking all the reps right now and doing well and he got through practice today pretty good.”
Tags: Adam Snyder, Ken Whisenhunt
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