There would be times in life when good things happen, even if you had to be dragged towards them kicking and screaming. Kyler Murray’s new contract with the Arizona Cardinals might seem bad for everyone else in the NFC West, but it’s good news for the 49ers. I explained why on today’s Gold Diggers podcast.
As Michelle Magdziuk pointed out, things with Kyler Murray look great on the surface. Last year he had a higher completion percentage, passing yards per attempt, and passer rating than both Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. He routinely makes big-time throws down the field and had the fourth-fewest turnover-worthy plays in 2022. The team’s record with him at the helm has also improved each year under center.
Look a little deeper, however; there are things that should be music to 49ers fans’ ears. Murray does not deal well with failure. Why would he? He hasn’t had very much of it in his athletic life. He was, after all, the first player ever taken in the first round of both the NFL and MLB drafts.
Look at last year’s playoff game against the Rams as an example. Arizona was beaten to a pulp all day, including Murray. Throughout the game, he could be seen sitting alone on the bench, looking like he wanted to be anywhere else in the world other than SoFi Stadium. With a minute to go, 49ers-killer Colt McCoy came into the game to finish things out. Afterward, we learned that McCoy encouraged Murray to finish the game with his teammates, but Murray had pulled himself out of the lineup and refused to go back into the game.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo later reported that the Cardinals “are looking for Murray to take a step forward in a number of areas — maturity, body language on the sideline, having a bigger voice with his teammates and leadership.”
So much of playing quarterback comes down to how you act in a crisis, and Murray is not at his best when the chips are down. The Cardinals’ performance down the stretch of the last two years isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.
Furthermore, now that Murray is going to be extended, the Cardinals have firmly established that they are moving forward with Kyler at QB, Kliff Kingsbury as the head coach, and Steve Keim as the GM. That’s not exactly an insurmountable trio.
Keim’s greatest wins as a general manager appear to be accepting a ridiculous trade offer for DeAndre Hopkins from Bill O’Brien and being bad enough at his job to have the opportunity to draft Josh Rosen at ten and Murray first overall a year later.
Kingsbury’s teams have usually started fast, only to fade later in the year. It happened at Texas Tech and has happened in the last two years with the Cardinals.
2019: 2-7 (Cardinals)
That doesn’t happen that many years in a row (and in two different places) by accident. Between Kliff’s offenses being figured out halfway through the year and Kyler’s inability to pull the team together during crisis, Arizona isn’t built to deal with good teams like the Rams and the 49ers on a regular basis.
Call me a homer if you want to, but I am not worried about having to face this era of Cardinals football twice a year for the foreseeable future. There’s no doubt that the 49ers have to improve their 3-3 record against them since 2019 going forward, but against those three keystone pieces, I have no doubt that they will.
Other topics in today’s show
- Rob’s apology to George Kittle (1:56)
- Is Raheem Mostert worth a flier in fantasy? (9:38)
- Are 49ers fans too sensitive about Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo? (14:28)
- Will Lance be able to handle all the pressure that’s on him? (21:52)
- Why 49ers fans should be happy that Kyler Murray got extended (26:55)
- Training camp battles: Why strong safety shouldn’t be Hufanga’s to lose (39:00)
- Can Jake Brendel be surpassed at center? (44:31)
- Why Michelle is worried about Trey Sermon getting cut (45:55)
- Who is the final wide receiver on the roster, and why Michelle has one name to root for this preseason (49:51)