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News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

October 24, 2012
Whisenhunt: Rivalry with 49ers born from close encounters

Ken Whisenhunt's first NFL game was a stomach clencher on Monday Night Football in San Francisco. The 49ers won it 20-17 when Arnaz Battle scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds left.

That's been typical, the Cardinal head coach said today on a conference call. That kind of high-profile, tight-score game has marked 49ers vs. Cardinals in the last six seasons, and Whisenhunt suspects that's why there's such a strong rivalry among the teams.

On Tuesday, Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell spoke at length on SiriusXM NFL radio about hating the 49ers "with a passion" and he said that fellow lineman Darnell Dockett might despise the 49ers even more than he does.

Said Whisenhunt: "It seems to me that with our players there's always a little bit extra when we play San Francisco."

Whisenhunt seemed to have no issues with Campbell's comments, but stressed that the animosity is born from respect. "I think that goes throughout our whole team," he said. "I think that's part of the reason why we're excited to have an opportunity to play them -- because we respect them and know they're a good football team."

The division-leading 49ers (5-2) and Cardinals (4-3) have met four times on Monday Night Football since 2007 with the 49ers winning three of the games. The loss came in 2008 when 49ers fullback Michael Robinson was stopped short of the goal line at the end of the game in a 29-24 loss.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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