The Cardinals returned from the bye week to find themselves 3 1/2 games behind the 49ers, who lead the NFC West with a 5-1 record.
At 1-4, Arizona knows it is in deep trouble and can ill afford to fall further behind.
The problem for the Cardinals is that they are entering a difficult part of the schedule. After this Sunday's game against the Steelers in Glendale, Ariz., four of their next five are on the road.
The Cardinals haven't won a road game since the 2010 season opener in St. Louis, a streak of 10 games.
More important, they have lost four consecutive games. The first three came by a total of eight points, but they were blown out by 24 points in Minnesota.
The Cardinals spent last week addressing deficiencies, such as third-down conversion and two-minute offense. The central figure in those weaknesses is quarterback Kevin Kolb, who hasn't played well in a month.
In his last three games, Kolb has completed 57.3 percent of his passes and has one touchdown and five interceptions.
He has also fumbled six times this season, losing three of them.