Cards, Kolb ready for rematch against 49ers

Ken Whisenhunt (Getty)

The Cardinals consider the 49ers their biggest rivals, although you wouldn't know it by the teams' games over the past three seasons.

The Cardinals consider the 49ers their biggest rivals, although you wouldn't know it by the teams' games over the past three seasons.

San Francisco has earned five consecutive wins over Arizona, including a 23-7 victory three weeks ago in Candlestick Park.

The Cardinals' weaknesses were evident in that game, especially the offensive ones. John Skelton started at quarterback and was replaced after completing just six of 16 passes.

Offensive coaches left that game frustrated because they felt the Cardinals had opportunities to make big plays against the 49ers. Skelton was erratic, missing on early throws to Larry Fitzgerald and others.

Now Kevin Kolb has returned as the starting quarterback. The Cardinals went 3-1 while he was out with a right foot injury that included turf toe, a ligament sprain and a bone bruise.

While Skelton showed promise at times in those games, his inexperience also was evident. He struggled with accuracy throughout, and he started slowly in every game.

Before the first game against the 49ers, the Cardinals had a quarterback controversy heating up. Skelton had looked decent in two starts, and Kolb had struggled in his last three before getting hurt.

But Skelton's performance ended that. Now the rest of the season, at least from an offensive standpoint, is all about getting Kolb comfortable in the offense.

That appeared to happen in the second half of Sunday's overtime victory against the Cowboys. Kolb looked rusty in the first half, throwing for only 44 yards. A simple rollout to start the second half seemed to flip the switch for him. He hit Larry Fitzgerald for 14 yards on the play.

While the Cardinals didn't blow the scoreboard lights out in the second half, Kolb did pass for 203 yards, and he threw the game-winning touchdown pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling.

It was a huge step for Kolb, who was playing poorly when he suffered his foot injury against Baltimore on Oct. 30.

Kolb, however, said he never lost confidence. "I was raised different than that, and I've been through enough situations," he said. "We still have a lot of work to do, and I just like this group. We were 1-6, and we were fighting just as hard as we were the first week. You don't see that everywhere."

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