Of course, that one loss was in San Francisco when the 49er defense dominated the Arizona offense to the point of embarrassment–or at least to the realization that John Skelton falls short of decent NFL quarterbacking.
Nonetheless, the Cardinals are playing better.
They’ve won two games in overtime, and they’ve improved defensively. And they have an edge. Darnell Dockett, the Cardinals top-notch defensive tackle, said it best to the Arizona Republic.
“I don't like the 49ers,” Docket is quoted as saying. “I just don't. They hate me, I hate them, and there's nothing I would say to them. I'll pay them the compliment that they're playing great football. That's what a man would say, because I'm not a hater that way. Just because I don't like you doesn't mean I don't respect what you do.”
What it says, though, is that this will not be the cakewalk that came about three weeks ago in Candlestick Park. The Cardinals have kept a candle lit in hope of making the playoffs. Winning out might do it, as crazy as the scenario could be, thanks to the dropping fortunes of the Lions and Bears.
They’ll be hungry for this one, and Jim Harbaugh knows it. The 49ers appear to be a team ready to focus on the game at hand and not get too carried away with congratulating themselves.
A win in Phoenix on Sunday would propel the 49ers up a notch toward the goal of getting at least the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. With that in mind, here are four playoff scenarios that could come to the 49ers.