49ers At Arizona Cardinals: Know Thy Enemy Edition

Since the Arizona Cardinals joined the NFC West after the 2001 season, and started playing San Francisco 49ers twice a year, the match ups between these two teams have always seemed to go back and forth. In 2007 the 49ers swept the series, but in 2008 the Cardinals picked up both wins. To make matters more interesting, several of the games have had weird endings. In 2007, Eric Green wasn't able to recover a fumble in the end zone at the end of the first game, then Kurt Warner was sacked in the end zone during overtime to end the second meeting. In 2008, the Niners squandered a last second opportunity by not using Frank Gore on the last play of the game that could have won it for them. Last season, with Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator, many thought that the Niners didn't utilize Gore's skills, but that is expected to change this season.

This season Mike Singletary has come out and said they will play to their strength and that strength is running the ball. That means more Frank Gore in each and every game, which should be a scary proposition for a Cardinals defense that hasn't had much success against him in the past. In Gore's eight career games against us, he has rushed for 530 yards (66.3 ypg), on 111 carries (4.8 ypc), and 8 touchdowns. If you narrow that search to games that Gore actually started (basically throw out his rookie year when carried the ball eight times in two games), you're left with 504 yards (84 per game) on 103 carries. To make matters worse, he has also hurt us in the passing game, catching 32 passes for 317 yards, and all but three receptions for 19 yards have come in his six games as a starter. All in all, Gore has racked up 802 total yards from scrimmage and scored eight TDs in his six games as a starter against the Cardinals.

As you can tell, Gore has not been a stranger to us and has shown time and time again that he can hurt the Cardinals defense. Shutting down a back as talented as Gore is never a one man job, but Karlos Dansby will shoulder a great deal of that responsibility. Dansby enters this season on a mission to prove that he's a premier linebacker, worthy of being paid among the league's best defenders, and he'll get a significant test this week. These two will undoubtedly meet on Sunday, and it'll be up to Dansby to limit Gore's impact on the outcome of this game. How do you see this match-up playing out and what's the best way to slow down Frank Gore?

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