Leading Off

Can 49ers stop Carson Palmer?

Reading time, two minutes …

▪ After Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shredded the 49ers’ secondary for 369 yards and three touchdown passes, the 49ers need to come up with a better game plan Sunday against the Cardinals. Big Ben had completions of 59, 56, 48, 41, 35 and 28 yards and receiver Antonio Brown had nine catches for 195 yards.

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer – yes, the guy who was 8-15 in two seasons with the Raiders – has passed for 492 yards and seven touchdowns and has a passer rating of 124.4 in Arizona’s two victories. And Palmer has Larry Fitzgerald, who has caught 14 of his passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns.

The 49ers need to get to Palmer or it could be another mismatch.

▪ Everyone seems to be excited the A’s will start Barry Zito on Saturday against the Giants’ Tim Hudson.

Sure, having two of the Big Three face each other as their careers wind down is a flashback to better times for A’s fans, but the cynic in us can’t help but think the A’s are simply looking for a way to sell a few tickets.

With the Giants still in the race for the playoffs – albiet the longest of long shots – is Zito the best the A’s can do in a game that still matters?

How cool would it be for fans at O.co Coliseum if Zito beat the Giants and eliminated them from playoff contention?

▪ After Republic FC had seven ties, including Saturday and Tuesday, in 28 regular-season matches, we’re looking forward to the USL playoffs.

In the playoffs, of course, there are no ties; there must be a winner and a loser, in our mind the only acceptable outcome in sports.

Baseball plays extra innings until a team wins, even if it the game goes into the next day. The NBA plays on and on, too, until one team wins.

We know deadlocks are part of soccer tradition, but we’d rather leave a match knowing there’s a winner and a loser.

Tom Couzens: 916-321-1097, @tomcouzens, tcouzens@sacbee.com

Playbook

  • What to watch: Baseball, Giants at A’s, 7:05 p.m., CSNCA, CSNBA: The A’s Sonny Gray aims to help keep the Giants out of the playoffs in the opener of a three-game series.
  • Twitter chatter: “In Carson Palmer’s last 7 starts, here are Larry Fitzgerald’s stats: 56 rec, 660 yards, 5 TDs. #azcardinals” – @kentsomers
  • On this date: On Sept. 25, 1995, Jerry Rice had 181 receiving yards in the 49ers’ 27-24 loss to Detroit. It was his 51st 100-yard game, which broke Don Maynard’s NFL record.
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