Editor's note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Cardinals matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at University of Phoenix Stadium.
49ers LG Mike Iupati vs. Cardinals DL Darnell Dockett
Tale of the tape
Iupati (77): 6 foot 5, 331 pounds, fourth season, Idaho
Dockett (90): 6 foot 4, 290 pounds, 10th season, Florida State
The 49ers made their mark against the Arizona Cardinals with one signature running play in the first meeting between the teams.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman called “94 Power” five times on the 49ers’ signature 18-play, 89-yard drive that took more than 9 1Ž2 minutes on Oct. 13 in a 32-20 victory over the Cardinals.
Coach Jim Harbaugh described the drive as “grinding the meat.” The 49ers’ favorite play is one that calls for Iupati to pull from his spot at left guard and make a block ahead of running back Frank Gore in the hole on the right side.
It’ll be on that side that Iupati comes face-to-face with Darnell Dockett, a strong run defender on Arizona’s defensive front. The Cardinals own the No. 1 run defense in the league with a defense that Roman likens to an old-fashioned 5-2 alignment.
“And, it really comes down to how the players executed,” Roman said of the drive. “And when you see that kind of execution, it makes it pretty easy. That was a heck of a drive and, boy, that was a long time ago though. That was a long time ago.
“We’re focusing on this week, but that was definitely much needed at that point. Players stepped up big time.”
Iupati is still not 100 percent after missing four games with a partially torn MCL in his left knee, but he played well in his return to action Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
[MAIOCCO: Whitner: Powerful hits can be legal, too]
There will be no secret about the formula the playoff-bound 49ers hope to use Sunday against the Cardinals, who need a victory to have any chance to earning a spot in the NFC playoffs.
“We’re going to do what we do and we’re going to be physical,” Roman said. “We’re going to run the football.”