GLENDALE, Ariz. The lasting image from last year's game in Arizona: 49ers defensive backs sprawled on the grass as Cardinals receivers dashed for big gains and touchdowns.
Monday night, it was the Arizona wideouts who were flat on their backs.
On Dec. 11, Larry Fitzgerald had seven catches for 149 yards in a 21-19 Cardinals win. Monday, he was held to five catches three of them on Arizona's final drive for 52 yards by a 49ers defense that made it a priority to take him out of the game.
Still, Fitzgerald might have fared better than teammate Early Doucet, who is bound to be a staple of highlight reels this week after he was crushed by a shoulder-to-shoulder hit from safety Dashon Goldson following a short catch over the middle in the fourth quarter.
Said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh of the hit: "Vince Lombardi would be proud."
Goldson and Doucet have a history. They exchanged blows in the teams' first meeting last season, a 23-7 49ers win Nov. 20, and both were ejected. Goldson was fined $25,000, Doucet $10,000.
Goldson also was one of several 49ers defensive backs victimized last December as the Cardinals turned three short passes into huge gains after the 49ers either missed tackles or were outdueled when the ball was in the air.
Goldson vowed before the game he wouldn't let last year's experience curb his aggression, and he made good on that promise.
"Those hits like that are game changers, and they're momentum changers," he said. "He ran a play, I read it, and I just unloaded."
Fever pitch Left tackle Joe Staley said he lost 10 pounds and was battling a 104-degree fever just days before Monday's game. The diagnosis, Staley said, was pneumonia.
"I was pretty sick Sunday through Thursday," said Staley, who said his weight dipped to 288 pounds. "I wasn't sure if I was going to play."
He said he gained about half of the weight back over the weekend and estimated he played Monday's game at 295 pounds.
"I could tell he was hurting this week," guard Alex Boone said. "For him to come back and play the way he did it shows a lot about him."
Staley missed Monday's and Thursday's practices and was limited Friday and Saturday. He squared off mostly against Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, who made news last week for claiming he and his teammates hated the 49ers "with a passion." Campbell finished with six tackles and a sack.
Healthy scratch Running back Brandon Jacobs didn't dress for the game, even though he was healthy and Frank Gore was nursing bruised ribs.
Jacobs dressed for the team's previous game, Oct. 18 against Seattle, but was the only 49er who didn't play.
"I'm ready whenever coach calls my name," Jacobs said last week. "I can't do anything about what's going on, but I can work hard and show coach that I'm ready, that I'm healthy."
Gore was injured Oct. 18 but didn't miss any practice time last week.
Jacobs joined a bevy of draft picks on the inactive list: wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, running back LaMichael James, safety Trenton Robinson and guard Joe Looney. Quarterback Scott Tolzien and nose tackle Ian Williams also were inactive.
Ginn again After returning three punts for 70 yards against Seattle, Ted Ginn had a five-return, 59-yard night against the Cardinals.
Ginn's 35-yard return in the second quarter helped set up David Akers' 43-yard field goal.
Ginn's counterpart, second-year player Patrick Peterson, was held to 15 yards on four returns as the 49ers' kick-coverage units had their second straight solid outing since struggling to start the season.
Et cetera Backup center Daniel Kilgore suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff and did not return. That left Leonard Davis as the only backup offensive lineman and the 49ers with a dearth of players with snapping experience.
Cornerback Chris Culliver now has two interceptions this season, tying Goldson for the team lead. Culliver picked off a Hail Mary from John Skelton at the end of the first half.