15 Lesser-known Facts about 49ers-Cardinals Rivalry

Here are 15 lesser-known facts about the rivalry between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, who meet at Levi's® Stadium in Week 17.
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  1. Forty-five days after back surgery in 1986, Joe Montana threw three touchdowns against the Cardinals.

All three tosses went to Jerry Rice in the Nov. 9 game at Candlestick Park.

  1. Larry Fitzgerald once wore a 16 jersey while playing on the same squad as Jerry Rice.

OK, so it was just a pro-am, the EA Sports 2009 Madden NFL 10 Pigskin flag-football game in Malibu, Calif., but still.


3. The once-named Phoenix Cardinals selected Garrison Hearst with the third overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.

Hearst signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 1997 and recorded three straight 1,000-plus rushing-yard seasons.


4. Safety Tim McDonald inspired Rod Tidwell's "Show me the money" line in "Jerry McGuire" before signing with the 49ers.

According to Dan Brown's "100 Things 49ers Fans Should Know and Do before They Die," McDonald uttered a similar phrase before leaving Arizona for a five-year, $12.5 million deal with San Francisco in 1993. He, of course, helped the team win Super Bowl XXIX. The movie, starring a Cardinals wide receiver played by Cuba Gooding Jr., came out in 1996.

  1. Anquan Boldin has owned Arizona since he was traded away.

The Baltimore Ravens-turned-49ers wideout, who was the Cardinals second-round draft pick in 2003, is 3-1 against his first NFL team.

  1. Mexico hosted the 49ers-Cardinals before 100,000 fans in 2005.

Arizona won the game, 31-14, as Boldin and Fitzgerald caught touchdown passes.

  1. Former linebacker Julian Peterson tore his ACL against Arizona but returned to the sideline to root for his teammates.

Peterson, a standout during his six-year career here, suffered the injury in the first quarter but came out of the locker room to watch his teammates' 31-28 overtime win on Oct. 10, 2004.


8. Current linebacker Joe Staley made his NFL debut versus the Cardinals.

The first-round draft pick recorded 11 tackles and a forced fumble in his team's 20-17 win on Sept. 10, 2007.

  1. 49ers linebacker Derek Smith paid homage to Pat Tillman by growing his hair out.

In 2005, Smith honored his former Arizona State teammate with the gesture, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

  1. Cousins Andre and Bruce Ellington were also rivals as collegians.

The Cardinals second-year running back (below) played at Clemson, while the 49ers rookie wide receiver starred at South Carolina. More on their story here.

  1. The 49ers have dominated the all-time series, 28-18.

This has been helped by winning nine of the last 11 matchups.

The teams have never met in the postseason.

  1. With 19, San Francisco has 17 more NFC West titles than Arizona.

Although, to be fair, the Cardinals were in the NFC East from 1970 to 2001.

San Francisco and Arizona have faced off 51 times. Here are the best shots from the teams' meetings.

  1. Former Cardinals head coach Dennis Green was an assistant on Bill Walsh's staff.

Green coached San Francisco's special teams in 1979 and its wideouts from 1986 to '88. He was Arizona's leading man from 2004 to 2006 and is known mostly for this.

  1. The 49ers honored Walsh after his passing during the team's 2007 opener versus the Cardinals.

The month before, San Francisco christened The Stick's playing surface, "Bill Walsh Field."

  1. The 49ers were the first team to play a regular season game at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006.

The Cards won that opener, 34-27, despite the fact that a then-rookie tight end named Vernon Davis scored his first NFL touchdown.

Arizona will play at San Francisco's new Santa Clara ballpark, Levi's® Stadium, in Week 17.


Reporting contributed by Tyler Emerick.

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