Cardinals coach Bruce Arians today said there has been no change with his team's quarterback situation: Drew Stanton is beginning the week as if he will start against the 49ers while regular starter Carson Palmer continues to deal with a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder.
Stanton made his first start since the 2010 season on Sunday, a 25-14 over the Giants in New York. He was 14-29 for 167 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown. But he didn't throw an interception, either, in a game in which the Cardinals scored four field goals and were aided by a 71-yard punt return by ex-49er Ted Ginn Jr.
“I thought he was very solid, and no, it didn't surprise me,” Arians said of Stanton during a conference call. “The one good thing is that it was still September. He was fresh out of training camp, had about 100 snaps in the preseason games. So if you're going to play your backup, that's the best time to play him. It's hard in November when there is a little rust factor as far as the speed of the game.”
Facing the Cardinals backup has become routine for San Francisco. Since Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2011, the 49ers have gone against Arizona’s top quarterback only twice in six meetings. Those games both came last year when Palmer started. The 49ers are 5-1 in that span.
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The 49ers also are catching the Cardinals at a time when their top running back, Andre Ellington, is still dealing with a foot injury. Arians said that so far this season Ellington has been in a walking boot during the week and has only been able to practice on Fridays. This week, the hope is that the injury has improved to the point where Ellington can join Thursday's practice as well.
The injury has prevented Arizona from using the small, speedy running back in the passing game as much as they'd like. He had just one catch for 10 yards against the Giants. Still, Ellington is averaging more than five yards a carry and, even while dealing with a bad foot, he has given the Arizona offense a dynamism it hasn't had from that position in recent years.
Ellington is the first cousin of 49ers rookie Bruce Ellington, a receiver, who also might get some touches at running back early this season. Arians said that Andre Ellington made multiple trips to his office in the run-up to the draft.
“You don't need to sell (Bruce) to me,” Arians told his running back. “I love him.”
They liked Pittsburgh's John Brown a little more, however. They took Brown in the third round and another wideout, Walt Powell, in the sixth. The 49ers took Bruce Ellington in the fourth round.