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Cardinals vs. 49ers: What can we expect from Drew Stanton?

The backup is the starter for the second week in a row.

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It is a sure thing. Quarterback Drew Stanton will be the starter for the Arizona Cardinals against the San Francisco 49ers.

He led the team to a 25-14 win in Week 2 over the New York Giants, although his numbers were anything but awe-inspiring. He was 14/29 for 167 yards. He threw no touchdowns, but did not turn the ball over.

The Cardinals are doomed, right?

Well, maybe not. The strength of the New York defense is supposed to be its defensive secondary, where they have Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown. That is a talented group.

How does the 49ers secondary look?

They have a very good young safety in Eric Reid. They have a veteran in Antoine Bethea, who graded out as a net negative in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus.

At cornerback they have Trumaine Brock and Chris Culliver. Brock is banged up, but was solid in 2013. Culliver has a total of eight starts in his career.

At nickelback, they have Jimmie Ward, whom they drafted in the first round this year. But he is 5-10, and was overmatched by a big Brandon Marshall, whom he covered in the red zone last week. With Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, the Cardinals can win that battle.

Kent Hodder, who has contributed to this site many times, charted Stanton's throws against the Giants.


He had four throws dropped, including one throw that would have gone for a touchdown to Michael Floyd had he turned his head looking for the ball a half second earlier.

He will face a stronger defensive front in San Francisco than he did in New York, and that does raise some concern, as Stanton was sacked four times, three of which could have the blame placed on him for holding the ball too long.

He won't likely throw for the volume of yards that Carson Palmer does. Arizona will try to run the ball, as they did in their games against the 49ers last season.

But he can have a solid game. I have compared him a lot to Kevin Kolb over the last week. But the type of performances that Kolb had in his better games is what we can see in terms of a good game for Stanton.

Here are some of the Kolb lines that could be comps for Stanton:

2011 vs. Washington: 17/30, 251 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

2011 vs. Dallas: 16/25, 247 yards, 1 TD

2012 vs. New England: 15/27, 140 yards, 1 TD

2012 vs. Philadelphia: 17/24, 222 yards, 2 TD

If Stanton completes between 55 and 60 percent of his passes and throws for more touchdowns than interceptions, then you have to like the Cardinals' chances to win.

Stanton won't need to be great. He will need to be efficient and careful.

He got to knock the rust off after four years without playing in a real NFL game. Against a very good, but maybe not great San Francisco team (the season is too young to know if it is great like last season), we will see what Stanton really is.

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