Cards get win over biggest rival

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Cards get win over biggest rival

The Arizona Cardinals remain on the periphery of the NFC playoff race with their 21-19 victory over the NFC West champion 49ers on Sunday.At 6-7, the Cardinals have now won five of their past six games, and they snapped a five-game losing streak to the 49ers -- the team they consider their biggest rival. The Cardinals also avenged a 23-7 loss to the 49ers three weeks ago.
Here is some of the reaction from the winning locker room:"They are so good with their front seven that we came in with the idea of spreading it out a little bit. I would have preferred to do better in the run game. But we made some big plays, some stretch-the-field plays that we thought we could attack them with."
--Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt"I didn't think it was a catch. That's why I threw the challenge flag . . . other than I suspected that they may try to run a fake field goal."

--Whisenhunt, laughing, on the challenge of a Kyle Williams reception that negated a 49ers fake field goal that would've resulted in a first down and possibly a touchdown"What I'm more interested in is beating a team that is 10-2 and has won their division. Say what you want to, that's a good football team. For us to beat them means we have made progress as a team. There's a rivalry with the 49ers because they have good players and they play a physical game. It's nice to get it from that perspective because our guys really wanted it."
--Whisenhunt on ending the five-game skid to the 49ers"It was an exciting day all-around for this ballclub. The last couple weeks have been great to be able to talk about the wins. Our defense played lights out again. To be able to hold a good football team in the San Francisco 49ers like they (the defense) did, it was impressive. We gave them some bad luck by turning the ball over three times. That's something you definitely cannot do against a good ballclub like them."
--Receiver Larry Fitgerald"I feel like every game is our Super Bowl. Every game is a playoff game for us and that's how we look at it. I don't know what the 49ers were thinking this week. That's still a great team. I wish them well in the playoffs. Right now, we're finding our identity and playing well."
--Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett"I think we just continue to stay within our scheme and believe in everything that the coaches tell us. We know we have been putting in the work continuously. It was too bad the way the game turned out in San Francisco but we knew what type of team we had. If we continue to play hards and for four quarters like we did (Sunday), it shows the type of team we have."
--Receiver Early Doucet"It is huge. They are our biggest rivals in my opinion. What makes it even sweeter is that they are the division champs. Our mindset is that we are going to go out and show that we can beat the division champs, try to make a run at this and hopefully get to the playoffs."
--Defensive end Calais Campbell"It's a big one. First of all, it's a division game and we just wanted to come out here and win the game. We are just trying to keep it going. We are going to let the chips fall where they may. . . I don't know if you could call it a rivalry if they kept beating us. We came out and took care of business."
--Receiver Andre Roberts"Coach Horton's defense (defensive coordinator Ray Horton) is really starting to come together for a lot of us. We are really starting to understand it and you can see it on the field. We gave up a few big plays, and you never want to do that. Now, the next step is trying to get some turnovers. I dropped an interception and we could have made a lot of big plays."
--Linebacker Sam Acho"Who knew? When we were 1-6, especially after winning the first game, we were thinking we were a good football team. We just had to find ourselves at some pint in the season. Going 1-6, we never kept our heads down. We stayed up. To win five out of six games, it has been amazing."
--Linebacker Darryl Washington"Hats off to the coaches for just staying the course. With the lockout and not being at minicamp and all the other stuff, we basically had to use Flagstaff (training camp), the preseason and even the season when it counted to try to get acclimated with the defense and where everybody fit in. I would say the last month-and-a-half or so, everything has come together."
--Linebacker Clark Haggans

Paraag Marathe: My job is to stay in my lane, help the coach and GM

Paraag Marathe: My job is to stay in my lane, help the coach and GM

SANTA CLARA – As team executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe traveled the country during the 49ers’ search to fill their head coach and general manager positions, there was plenty of criticism that followed them at every stop.

York, the CEO, has been held accountable by the local media and on social media, as he publicly welcomed, in recent seasons when the 49ers fell from the NFC Championship game to 8-8, 5-11 and 2-14 under three different head coaches.

A year ago, Marathe officially was replaced as team president and became the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations. His duties with the football team have not changed.

In fact, York and Marathe roles with the organization took on a much-greater significance after the decision was made to fire coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke.

The 49ers interviewed six head-coach candidates and 10 individuals who were considered for the general manager position.

Along the way, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels bowed out, likely because his top choice to be his general manager partner, Nick Caserio, opted to remain as the Patriots’ chief of personnel. Then-Kansas City executive Chris Ballard declined an interview and another serious candidate, Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst, removed his name from consideration to remain with the Packers on a new contract.

After more than a month, the 49ers finalized the hirings of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, who officially accepted the job the day after the Atlanta Falcons’ crushing defeat in Super Bowl 51.

“Nothing speaks better to the process than the quality of the two men that we hired,” Marathe told CSNBayArea.com. “I can’t tell you, just in the last two weeks even, how inspiring it’s been to be at work, just seeing these guys work together and how they’ve already transformed the building.”

Marathe joined the “49ers Insider Podcast” for a wide-ranging interview that touched on his personal life, as well as his responsibilities during his 16 years with the 49ers. The entire 43-minute podcast can be heard here.

Marathe has remained behind the scenes working for the 49ers mostly on contract and salary-cap matters. There has been mystery about his role while working with head coaches Steve Mariucci, Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula, Kelly and, now, Shanahan.

At one point during the search, Pro Football Talk, citing “thinking inside league circles,” described Marathe as being viewed as an “impediment” to the 49ers' ability to attract top candidates for their openings.

“It’s unfortunate that’s out there, if that’s out there,” Marathe said. “I won't say it’s something that doesn’t bother me at all. Of course, it stings. But I do know, I try to keep my head down and do a good job and support the people who are here. All I try to do is earn their respect and their trust on what I do. I feel like I’ve been able to do that. I think the individuals that you would talk to, if you talked to them, they’d probably tell you the same thing.

“I’m not trying to be anything other than what I am, which is a support to the coach and the GM.”

This offseason, former 49ers coach candidate Adam Gase told CSNBayArea.com one of the reasons he really wanted the head-coaching position in 2015 was because of his relationship with York and Marathe.

Arizona executive Terry McDonough, a finalist for the 49ers’ GM job, went out of his way to compliment Marathe shortly after he learned Lynch was hired.

“When I was done with that first interview, I said, ‘This is a guy I would want to partner with, along with Jed and whoever the new head coach might be,’” McDonough said of Marathe.

A source close to McDaniels reached out to CSNBayArea.com to dispel any notion that McDaniels’ decision to remain with the Patriots was any reflection on those running the 49ers’ search. McDaniels stated he was impressed with York, Marathe and Brian Hampton, the team’s director of football administration and analytics.

The roles of Marathe and the organization’s use of analytics have been a topic of intrigue for years. Marathe said his role is merely to support the individuals on the football side to provide the team with any kind of advantage.

“My job is to keep my head down, stay my lane, do my job and help the head coach and GM as much as I can," he said.

Marathe added, "Coach Harbaugh, as you know, was looking for every advantage. One thing why he has so much success, he’s always looking for every advantage he can get. He used to use that NASCAR example, if you can figure out how to go 1 mph faster.

"So anything that helped him, we would go through. We’d talk after other games in the league about, ‘Hey, that team, they had one minute left. How many plays do you think they could’ve gotten off in that time? I thought six. Well, I thought seven.’ We’d go through it and talk through it. So, yeah, they were receptive, and it was good.”

Marathe said Lynch and Shanahan have already asked for his opinions on the feasibility of some of the upcoming decisions the organization must make during the offseason.

“I come at it from a different perspective, which is from the salary cap and contract side of things and also just having seen a lot over the years, in terms of how deals get made or how trades happen,” Marathe said.

Without specifying a position of inquiry, such as quarterback, Marathe said he has already provided Lynch and Shanahan with reference material for what it has taken to acquire players in past NFL trades.

“Here are all the other examples of when this position was traded for, and what people gave up to trade,” Marathe said. “That would establish the range for us if we are curious about a player at that position. And then we have a discussion from there.”

As the 49ers prepare for free agency, Marathe said the personnel department and coaching staff will rank the players by position. Then, Marathe will come up with comparable players and provide a range of what he anticipates a player will command on the open market. That leads to more discussion about which players are seen as better fits when considering football and finances.

“It’s my job to keep our cap as flexible as possible,” Marathe said. “But from a football standpoint, making decisions on players, that’s those two guys . . . I’m not good at that. That’s what they’re really good at, and that’s who I take my direction from.”

The 49ers have approximately $80 million in salary cap space entering the offseason. But that does not necessarily mean the 49ers will be willing to pay above market value to attract any players.

“I think there are times when you want to be a little bit more aggressive, versus maybe not be as aggressive,” Marathe said.

“The beauty of how the salary cap works, you can roll over the room to future years. There won’t ever be a salary cap dollar that’s unspent. We’ll always spend it. It just may not be this month. It could be next month or it could be next year. We’ll spend ever dollar. It doesn’t change the values. The values are still driven by what the market dictates.”

49ers announce more hires to Shanahan's staff

49ers announce more hires to Shanahan's staff

Kyle Shanahan put together some of the final pieces of his coaching staff on Tuesday.

The 49ers announced the hirings of seven coaches, including confirmation of John Benton as offensive line coach.

The team hired former NFL standout linebacker DeMeco Ryans as defensive quality control coach. He was a second-round selection of the Houston Texans in 2006 and spent 10 seasons in the league. He finished his career playing four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 49ers also hired Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, Stan Kwan as assistant special teams, Vince Oghobaase as assistant defensive line, Adam Stenavich as assistant offensive line, and Michael Clay as strength and conditioning assistant.

Benton, 53, was hired away from the Broncos after being on the job for approximately a month. Benton served as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach last season. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).

Benton and Shanahan worked together for four seasons with the Houston Texans.

Bullocks worked in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jaguars' linebackers coach last season, Robert Saleh, is the 49ers' new defensive coodinator. Bullocks appeared in 31 games in three NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and '08.