SANTA CLARA, Calif. - San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith's bark took the bite out of the Arizona pass rush Monday night.
Heading into the game, the plan was for Smith to vary his cadence and induce the aggressive Cardinals defensive linemen - primarily defensive tackle Darnell Dockett - to jump offside.
The plan worked. Smith drew three encroachment penalties on the 49ers' opening drive. More important, it made the Cardinals cautious and hesitant for the remainder of the game, which the Niners won.
The question is whether the 49ers can take that advantage on the road, specifically today at Lincoln Financial Field.
Niners center Eric Heitmann said voice inflections usually don't work well because crowd noise drowns out the quarterback's voice. In really loud venues, the offense has to go with a silent count, which typically involves Heitmann bobbing his head before snapping the ball.
Said Heitmann: "If you can figure out a way to calm the crowd down, then you can go back to that."
Heitmann might be rejoined on the line by left tackle Joe Staley. Staley sprained two ligaments in his knee on the first snap of the game against Indianapolis Nov. 1 and has been rehabilitating since.
"If he's ready to go, Joe's going to start," coach Mike Singletary said.
The 49ers might not have a choice. Staley's replacement, Barry Sims, injured his knee Monday. Test results showed no major injuries, but Singletary said Sims would be day to day.