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BACKWARDS BUDDYBALL? CARDS EAGER TO FACE 49ERS

SHARE BACKWARDS BUDDYBALL? CARDS EAGER TO FACE 49ERS

In his first game as coach of the Arizona Cardinals, Buddy Ryan is thinking backwards - offense before defense.

Ryan, whose Cardinals host San Francisco on Friday night, thinks the 49ers have the best offense in the NFL. But not the best defense."Their defense isn't as good," Ryan says. "So if things work out we'll score a lot of points and hopefully win the ballgame."

Not everyone is as anxious to win exhibitions as Ryan.

As the first full week of the exhibition season opens Friday, many coaches will give veterans minimal time to prevent injury and to get a look at rookies.

In Friday's other games, the New York Jets are at Detroit; Seattle at Indianapolis; Philadelphia at Chicago and New Orleans at New England.

In Saturday games, the Los Angeles Rams play Green Bay at Madison, Wis.; Pittsburgh is at Miami; Cincinnati at Tampa Bay; Cleveland at the New York Giants; Houston vs. San Diego at San Antonio; Atlanta at Denver and Kansas City vs. Minnesota at Tokyo, in a game actually being played Sunday local time.

The Los Angeles Raiders are at Dallas on Sunday night and Washington at Buffalo Monday night.

For Ryan and the Cardinals, who expect to contend for the playoffs for the first time since the team moved from St. Louis, San Francisco is a good opponent. Ryan gets a look at his "46" defense, which is something new for almost all the Carinals. The only exceptions are those who played for him in Philadelphia, like defensive end Clyde Simmons, linebacker Seth Joyner and safeties Terry Hoage and Andre Waters.

"We'd play the same way if we were playing anybody," Ryan said. "It doesn't make any difference. The 49ers just have a lot of good people on offense, and it'll be a real challenge for a defense that's still kind of learning."

For the Niners, it's more like rookie time.

If the Cards keep blitzing, they're unlikely to expose Steve Young, now their only experienced quarterback. Nor will fullback Marc Logan start - rookie William Floyd, a second-round draft choice, will be in his place.

"All of the other fullbacks are getting banged up. That seems to be the singled-out position this year," says coach George Seifert.