Arians: Hit could've ended Stanton's career

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A day after Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton was rocked while he attempted to slide in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers, coach Bruce Arians felt the hit could’ve been worse than it was.

“There’s no doubt he was sliding and that could have ended his career, that hit,” Arians said. “But he’s extremely tough.

“Some players don’t wear a mouthpiece and it should be mandatory. That mouthpiece probably saved a concussion.”

It also saved the Cardinals from having to go to third-string quarterback Logan Thomas. After the hit by 49ers linebacker Dan Skuta, Arians asked Stanton how he was feeling. At the time, Arians was trying to determine if he needed to take Stanton out of the game. Thomas began warming up at one point.

“I kept asking him on the headset, ‘You OK? You faking?'” Arians said. “He said, ‘I’m OK.’ He wasn’t faking though. That was a vicious hit that he took.”

Skuta, who was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after the hit, said he tried to stay as low as he could on the hit.

“I talked to him after the game,” Skuta said of Stanton. “I said, ‘You know I wouldn’t hit you if you were down,’ He said, ‘I know, that’s why I didn’t say anything. I knew it was a bad call.’ That’s what he said.”

The he said-he said debate can rage on. Skuta’s quotes were not available to the Arizona media until after Stanton spoke Sunday afternoon and Stanton wasn’t in the Cardinals’ locker room during availability on Monday.

Regardless of what either player said, the 49ers' penalties cost them. Those 15 yards and another 15 on the ensuing play after a roughing-the-passer penalty on Niners linebacker Patrick Willis put Arizona at the San Francisco 25. Three plays later, Arizona scored the go-ahead touchdown.

“I thought both were really, really good calls,” Arians said. “The second one was on the tape last year sent out by the referees. You can’t lead with the crown of your helmet on a quarterback, so that was a very good call.

“The first one I thought was a cheap shot.”