NFL: 49ers 27, Cardinals 13: Changes expected for Cards after another failed season

2012-12-31T00:00:00Z NFL: 49ers 27, Cardinals 13: Changes expected for Cards after another failed seasonKent Somers The Arizona Republic Arizona Daily Star
December 31, 2012 12:00 am  • 

SAN FRANCISCO - The Cardinals stayed true to themselves on Sunday in the final game of the season, and that's not a good thing for a team that won just one game since September.

Their failures are as familiar to players and coaches as their Social Security numbers.

They lost to the 49ers 27-13 at Candlestick Park because of the same old reasons.

A 6-0 lead in the first quarter had flipped to a 21-point deficit by the fourth because the offense couldn't move the ball, and the defense cracked under the weight placed upon it.

"Today's game kind of mirrored our season," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We started out well, couldn't do enough early against a good football team and made mistakes in the second half that really hurt us."

It was the Cardinals 11th loss in their last 12 games. They finished 5-11 for the second time in three years, and in the NFL, such failures usually cost someone their job.

No one knows team President Michael Bidwill's plan, assuming he has formulated one.

There has been much speculation about Whisenhunt's job status, as well as that of general manager Rod Graves.

"There's nothing I can do about that. You understand that this is part of the business," Whisenhunt said. "We haven't won enough games this year, that's the bottom line.

"It doesn't matter that you've had injuries, that you've had changes in personnel, that you're playing rookies. But our guys played hard all year. I'm proud of that."

Whisenhunt is under contract through 2013 with a team option for another year, and he said he has no indication he won't return.

"It burns in you," he said. "The way we started this season (4-0), get some guys healthy and make a couple of additions, we're close to being a good football team."

If he stays, there will be changes on his offensive staff. The Cardinals don't want to lose defensive coordinator Ray Horton, but he's expected to be interviewed for several head-coaching jobs.

"Obviously, something needs to be done," linebacker Daryl Washington said. "My three years here, I went 5-11 and 8-8 and 5-11 again. I don't think that's real good. Anytime you're on the losing end of the stick, changes have to be made."

Receiver Michael Crabtree caught two touchdown passes Sunday, giving him four against the Cardinals this season. He beat cornerback Patrick Peterson, who was selected to the Pro Bowl, for both scores and finished with eight catches for 172 yards.

For the Cardinals, 13 points is, oh, about three games worth of production. They had a 6-0 lead early, but the failure to score touchdowns quickly caught up with them.

Brian Hoyer became the fourth quarterback to start for the Cardinals this season, and while he didn't make disastrous mistakes, he didn't do much positive, either. He threw a touchdown pass to receiver Michael Floyd in the final minutes, which was significant because the Cardinals hadn't scored on a passing play in the previous six games.

Hoyer joined the Cardinals just three weeks ago and became the fourth quarterback to start a game this season. He doesn't know if he has a place in the team's future, which makes him no different than some of the people who have the team's biggest offices.

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