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Cardinals vs 49ers preview: Talking with Niners Nation

Niners Nation answers a few more questions previewing the game on Sunday.


On Friday, we read what Niners Nation had to say about Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith. Now we have the answers to three other questions they answered for me previewing the game on Sunday between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers.

What is the general feeling around the team and their playoff chances this year as opposed to last?

It has been a crazy up and down year for the 49ers. The team has had a pattern of W-W-L (or W-W-T) all season long. Now, the team is dealing with numerous injuries after a 2011 season in which they were incredibly healthy. Justin Smith has a partially torn triceps muscle due to a detached bone spure, Vernon Davis is dealing with a concussion and Mario Manningham is out with a torn ACL and PCL.

49ers fans were excited about the playoffs recently, but the ugly loss to the Seahawks has a lot of people wondering how this team can possibly rebound to win a Super Bowl. I do think it's a new season, but I'm not wildly optimistic given how the team is performing at times. At the same time, I am not pessimistic because I have seen some of the crazy upside this team can show. I'll stick with the cliche of the playoffs being a whole new season to keep me optimistic.

Who has been the most surprising 49er this season?

For plenty, the most surprising 49er would be in a bad way in the form of David Akers struggling. After a strong first two games of the season, it has been downhill for the All Pro kicker. However, if I were to look at this from a positive angle, it would be Alex Boone. The 49ers switched Boone from backup offensive tackle to starting right guard, and he has been as strong as anybody in the league, arguably deserving a Pro Bowl nod. His performance has been huge because at right guard, he has helped settled down the right side, boosting Anthony Davis' effectiveness as well. The 49ers offensive line has been a strength this year, and Boone is a big reason for that.

The injury situation could come into play against the Cardinals. Manningham is done, but what about Vernon Davis, Justin Smith and the others? Who will likely be out in the regular season finale, and will it matter against Arizona?

I would be shocked if Justin Smith played. He is dealing with a partially torn triceps muscle. He can potentially play through the pain, but I think the team will hold him out until the playoffs (at best). Vernon Davis was cleared by an independent neurologist and will participate in non-contact practice Thursday. After that he will need a second neurological clearance. I think there is a better than even chance he plays on Sunday, but will probably be listed as questionable.

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