Bloggin’ live from 49ers’ ’08 opener vs. Cardinals

It’s a spectacular day here at Candlestick Park, where the 49ers open the season at 1:15 p.m. against the Cardinals.

It’s a spectacular day here at Candlestick Park, where the 49ers open the season at 1:15 p.m. against the Cardinals.

I’m heading out to the parking lot to join the 49ers’ radio pregame show on 1050-AM and 107.7-FM. I’ll be back with some updates shortly thereafter.

* * *

J.T. O’Sullivan is walking to the locker room at 11:30 a.m. He was on the 49ers’ bench earlier, thumbing through the game program. Shaun Hill came over and joined him on the bench for a few minutes. There’s no sign of Alex Smith, who will be inactive for today’s game with a broken bone in his shoulder.

* * *

If you’re wondering how many people around the country will see the 49ers-Cardinals game on Fox today, check out this TV map of the country.

* * *

Inactives

49ers: QB Alex Smith, CB Marcus Hudson, CB Tarell Brown, CB Reggie Smith, LB Ahmad Brooks, C Cody Wallace, G Chilo Rachal and LB Tully Banta-Cain.

The 49ers will not dress an emergency No. 3 quarterback because Alex Smith is inactive and not in uniform for the game.

Cardinals: QB Brian St. Pierre (third QB), RB J.J. Arrington, T Brandon Keith, DT Alan Branch, WR Early Doucet, TE Jerame Tuman, DT Gabe Watson.

* * *

Alex Smith just spoke to a handful of media members on the field. A source close to Smith has confirmed the ESPN report that he has a fracture in his shoulder, but Smith did not talk about any specifics.

Here’s the Q&A session:

“I had an MRI two nights ago and they’re sending them down to Dr. (James) Andrews. The doctors here and Dr. Andrews are going to talk. Should know a lot more tomorrow.”

Q: Is it broken?

Smith: “They’re trying to figure it out. . . . see what it is”

Q: Do you know how you did it?

Smith: “Yeah, it was throwing. It was non-contact. It was kind of gradual, then I felt something on a throw.”

Q: Was it a big throw?

Smith: “Yeah, I let the ball go.”

Q: Were you able to throw after that?

Smith: “I tried a little, but it was definitely painful.”

Q: Do you think there was a stress fracture already in that spot?

Smith: “Potentially. They’re trying to figure it out. “

Q: “Is it something that could’ve happened on that hit from Rocky Bernard (last season against the Seahawks when he sustained separated shoulder)?

Smith: “No. Something would’ve come up before then, as far as I know.”

Q: Are you going to Birmingham to meet with Dr. Andrews?

Smith: “No. I won’t go down there. As of now, I’m not planning to go down there. They’re going to send the film down and we’ll do it like that. As of now, I’m not going down there.”

Q: Are you under the impression that this could be a season-ender for you?

Smith: “I should find out tomorrow. That’s the goal.”

Q: Is surgery an option?

Smith: “Potentially, talking about it, but don’t know anything definitive right now. As soon as I know . . . should find out tomorrow what the plan is.”

Q: Did you feel this on some of your recent big throws?

Smith: “I’ve had some soreness recently, but nothing like this.”

Smith was wearing his red warmup sweats. His right arm is not in a sling.

* * *

Cardinals win the toss and defer. The 49ers will receive the opening kickoff.

FIRST QUARTER

–Allen Rossum back to return the kickoff for the 49ers. Kentwan Balmer is back on the wedge, along with Billy Bajema and Takeo Spikes. Touchback. Niners take over at the 20.

–On third and 6, Arnaz Battle and Josh Morgan come in as the third and fourth receivers (Vernon Davis exits). Incomplete. That’s a three-and-out.

–50-yard punt. Manny Lawson is back. He mades a fantastic tackle of Cardinals returnman Steve Breaston. But Ulbrich is illegal downfield. Niners have to punt again.

–Cardinals get good field position after Keith Lewis misses a tackle. The Cardinals gained about 20 yards on that penalty. Cardinals take over at the 49ers’ 40.

–Niners defense starts out in 4-3, with Sopoaga and Franklin as the tackles. The Cardinals move the ball down the field. They’re inside the 10.

–Goldson good coverage and Patrick Willis with a big hit on TE Leonard Pope in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 7. The Cardinals settle for a 25-yard field goal to cap a seven-play, 33-yard drive. It’s CARDINALS 3, 49ERS 0 with 11:06 left in the first quarter. The Cardinals’ decision to defer was a good one.

–Rossum returns kickoff out of end zone (he shouldn’t have done that). He gets to the 10-yard line, and Takeo Spikes is called for an illegal block. The 49ers will start this drive at the 5-yard line.

–This game is first place in the NFC West. The Rams and Seahawks were both blown out today. The Eagles beat the Rams 38-3, and the Bills defeated the Seahawks 34-10.

–On first down, Gore fumbles but the 49ers get it back.

–On second down, not so lucky. Zak Keasey caught a short pass from O’Sullivan and then got drilled by Darnell Dockett. The Cardinals recover the fumble. Also, center Eric Heitmann came off the field, looking as if he injured his right arm.

–The 49ers lucked out. LT Mike Gandy made a stupid play at the goal line, hitting Patrick Willis in the back at the end of a play at the goal line. That moved the Cardinals back 15 yards. Neil Rackers missed teh 35-yard field goal.

–Niners take over at the 25. Wragge’s at center, and David Baas is at right guard after Heitmann’s injury. It’s a right shoulder injury. His return is questionable.

–Two Gore runs, and the 49ers have their first first down.

–Gore rips off a 41-yard touchdown run. Great blocking in the interior of the line, including a nice one from Keasey. What a turn of events. It’s 49ERS 7, CARDINALS 3 with 6:00 left in the first quarter.

–Cardinals take over at their own 12-yard line after kickoff. The crowd is fired up, with Manny Lawson and Justin Smith urging on the fans.

–Spikes enters for Ulbrich after he was shaken up on first down — James’ 4-yard run.

–On third-and-1, the Cardinals hustle to the line and Warner is stopped short on a QB sneak. They’ll force a punt.

–Dirk Johnson booted a 59-yarder with an incredible bounce. Niners take over at the 20.

–On DeShaun Foster’s first snap on offense, he catches a third-down pass for a first down — 12 yards.

–JTO throws a pick, but the defense comes back strong. Strickland nice breakup of pass to Fitzgerland, then Haralson and Smith team up for third-down sack of Warner.

–In first quarter, Gore carried eight times for 70 yards. JTO is 5 of 8 for 42 yards and a pick.

SECOND QUARTER

–Niners backed up at 1-yard line. Gore picks up some breathing room with a 6-yard gain. Heitmann is back at center for the 49ers. Wragge moves back to right guard.

–On third down, Staley gets beaten by Travis LaBoy, who takes down O’Sullivan.

–Andy Lee with a 49-yard punt. Cardinals take over at their own 42 with 13:15 left in the half.

–Sopoaga makes a nice stop of Edgerrin James for no gain, setting up third-and-7.

–Warner finds Breaston for a big gain (40 yards). He got past Goldson, who came into the game as a sixth DB.

–Fitzgerald catches 1-yard TD pass over Clements for the score off a hurry-up offense. Now, it’s CARDINALS 10, 49ERS 7 with 10:25 remaining in the half.

–After nice Rossum return to the 43, Vernon Davis gains 37 on pass down the middle from JTO. Ball on the 20.

–Staley beaten again on the sack. The ball is knocked out of his hands by Bertrand Berry. Cardinals recover and return it to the 37. Mike Nolan throws the red flag — we presume with a little help from Paraag Marathe in the coaches’ booth.

–Referee Gene Sterator said the ruling on the field stands. It’s Cardinals ball. That’s the 49ers’ third turnover of the first half. One of the knocks on Mike Martz’s offenses is that they turn the ball over a lot.

–Cardinals move into 49ers’ territory after three James’ runs.

–Haralson with the sack on third down. Cardinals have to punt.

–Niners take over at the 10 with 6:11 left in the half.

–JTO hits Bryant Johnson for 31 yards to the Cardinals’ 43-yard line.

–It’s going to be a third-and-1 at the Cardinals’ 21 after the two-minute warning.

–On third and 1, Niners went four wides. Davis left the field, and Morgan came into the game. The pass was incomplete. On fourth down, they tried to draw the Cardinals offside. Now, they’ll settle for a FG attempt.

–Nedney makes the 39-yard field goal. It’s 49ERS 10, CARDINALS 10 with 1:52 left in the first half.

–Roderick Green with a huge hit on Warner to force an incomplete pass on first down.

–Green with pressure again, and Strickland makes nice tackle for a 2-yard gain.

–Third down and 8 . . . make it third and 13 after Levi Brown’s false start . . . Hightower swallowed up on a third-down draw play. The 49ers hold, but they won’t get the ball back with much time left in the half.

–Clements and Rossum are back deep to return the punt. The 49ers had a trick play. I think they were going to do a reverse, but Rossum called for a fair catch — with nobody around him. There’s :02 left in the half. And they’ll sit on it.

The elevators must be broke because some 49ers and Cardinals assistants just went sprinting through the press box and to go down through the stands onto the field and into their locker rooms. That will be a cardio test for those coaches to get down there and back up from the locker room. There’s only 11 minutes before the second half begins.

There’s five minutes left until the half begins and Greg Manusky and some of the defensive coaches just emerged from the locker room. They were in the locker room for no more than five minutes — doubtful any “halftime adjustments” occurred in that amount of time.

THIRD QUARTER

–Since the Cardinals deferred when they won the opening toss, they will receive the second-half kickoff.

–Manusky just arrived back in the press box (with one minute to spare) and he looks as if he’s been sitting in a sauna for three hours.

–Justin Smith bull-rushed Gandy to hit Warner as he’s throwing. It’s third and 10.

–Anquan Boldin with his first reception of the game, and it’s for a first down at the Cardinals’ 37.

–Cardinals are marching down the field. Another third-down conversion on a pass to Breaston. Eighteen yard pass to Boldin. The Cardinals have the ball inside the 10-yard line.

–Niners get a break with a clipping penalty on LG Reggie Wells. It’s first and goal from the 20.

–Third and goal from the 6. This is a big play. Haralson destroys TE Leonard Pope to record another sack. He has 2.5 sacks on the day. That’s a 7-yard loss.

–Rackers makes 31-yard FG and the 49ers have to feel lucky. It’s CARDINALS 13, 49ERS 10 with 8:25 left in the third.

–Cardinals do a pooch kickoff and recover the muffed kickoff. It might have been Takeo Spikes who muffed it. He lined up on that wedge line with Balmer in the middle and Bajema on the other side. The Cardinals take over at the 33.

–They just showed a replay on TV. Yes, it was Spikes.

–Spikes is on the field playing defense now. Cardinals pick up a first down at the 49ers’ 22.

–The Cardinals are short of the first down, but there’s a penalty on the play. Personal foul on Ray McDonald for a blow to the head. The 49ers got good pressure on Warner with Haralson and McDonald. Sort of a lame call. Cardinals have first down at the 11-yard line.

–It’s third and 4 from the 5. Another big play . . . completion to Breaston. It looks a little short, but the Cardinals look as if they’re going for it.

–Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is challenging the spot.

–Steratore says the ball will be down at the half-yard line. Again, I think that’s a questionable call, because you couldn’t see if Breaston’s knee was down when he reached the ball forward. Cardinals were charged with a timeout because it did not result in a first down.

–Cardinals going for it . . . Hightower takes into the end zone from a half-yard out. But it officially goes down as a 2-yard run. It’s CARDINALS 20, 49ERS 10 with 4:03 left in the third quarter, and the 49ers’ offense still has not touched the ball in the second half.

–Balmer gets the kickoff this time. And the 49ers take over at the 28.

–Niners get a first down near midfield on an offside call on Adrian Wilson.

–Gore with a 7-yard gain to the Cardinals’ 35. It’ll be third-and-1 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Big play is coming up.

FOURTH QUARTER

–Gore with the first down.

–Gore gains 14 yards on dump off from JTO. Niner ball at the 19.

–Foster on a draw play on third and 7. He doesn’t get the yardage. Gain of 4.

–Nedney to attempt a 30-yard attempt. He nailed it. It’s CARDINALS 20, 49ERS 13 with 12:05 remaining in regulation.

–Niners have played a 4-3 almost exclusively in this game. Cardinals pick up a first down at their own 36, as James beats Lawson to the corner.

–Cardinals with a third and 2 at the 38 . . . Boldin makes a couple 49ers miss and gets close to the first down . . . he got it. First down at the 36.

–This crowd is really quiet. Smith and McDonald are trying to get the fans to make some noise.

–Another third down . . . it’s third and 4 from the 30. . . Boldin caught a swing pass and is a yard short. They’re going for it. Cardinals called a timeout before the snap. There’s 6:11 remaining.
–Hightower with the carry and the first down. Now, it’s getting serious. Defense might need to generate a turnover.

–Another first down for the Cardinals on third down. The 49ers’ third-down defense and those turnovers have killed them today. Niners call a timeout with 3:39 remaining. Cardinals have the ball and a first down at the 14.

–Niners stop them on third down — finally. Rackers will attempt a FG to put the game away after the two-minute warning.

–Rackers attempts a 30-yard FG. It’s good. It’s CARDINALS 23, 49ERS 13 with 1:57 remaining. And that should do it.

–That’s it for the live bloggin’. I’m heading down to the locker rooms. Check back here a while after the game.

Until then,

MM

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