Mike Iupati expects to be 'emotional' in first game against 49ers

Mike Iupati on facing San Francisco on Sunday: "I'm happy where I am but that was my home for five years." Gene J. Puskar/AP

TEMPE, Ariz. – It’s easy for Arizona Cardinals guard Mike Iupati to say Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers is just the next one on the schedule.

But it won’t be easy for him when he gets to Levi’s Stadium to face his old team.

“It’ll be a little emotional,” Iupati said. “It is what it is. It’s a business. I’m happy where I am but that was my home for five years.”

Iupati played for San Francisco from the time it drafted him in 2010 through the 2014 season, after which Iupati signed with the Cardinals as a free agent. He missed their first meeting this season, in Week 3, while recovering from meniscus surgery.

But this week has been circled on his calendar since March.

“They’re really friends of mine -- family,” Iupati said. “But, you know, it’s football. You play for three hours with them and just hug it out after.”

Iupati was an integral piece of the 49ers’ dominance in the early 2010s, when they went 36-11 from 2011 to 2013, while advancing to three straight NFC championship games and Super Bowl XLVII. He still keeps in touch with his former Niners teammates and said it’s tough, from a personal angle, to watch his friends go through the kind of rocky season that they’re having.

“They’re a good team in my book,” Iupati said. “It sucks what happened to Kap [San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick], but I think they have a good team still. Jimmy is a good coach. They lost a lot of guys.

“They’re a good team. And Jimmy and the coaching staff and the whole team are working their ass off right now.”