No. 5: Quarterback Kyler Murray
As mentioned earlier, Kyler Murray was the first overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, allowing the Niners to select Nick Bosa with the second overall pick.
Bosa has been a better player than Murray, without question, but the rookie quarterback offers a wrinkle to this vaunted 49ers defense.
Murray is a true dual-threat quarterback; his athleticism got him drafted in the first round of MLB draft as well. In Kingsbury’s Air-Raid college-style offense, Murray’s athleticism gets utilized whenever possible. The 49ers haven’t had to deal much with a mobile quarterback, possibly forcing the Niners defensive line to lose some of its ferocity to keep contain.
However, Murray does struggle when pressured. His pressured-completion percentage ranks 28th in the NFL, a paltry low. He’s also listed at 5-foot-10, which means he’s probably shorter than that. When dealing with two defensive linemen, in Deforest Buckner and Arik Armstead who are around 6-foot-7, Murray will have a hard time trying to read the defense in the pocket.
All in all, Murray has been slightly above league average so far in the NFL, grading out at 72.8 on Pro Football Focus. While that’s not a sign he’s a bad pick or a bad player, it does mean if the 49ers can key in on what makes him unique — his athleticism and ability to flick the ball deep with great accuracy, even on the run — they will have success.
When a team is an underdog like the Cardinals, sometimes players with this terrific athletic ability are the catalysts for an upset. Should Murray manage to break free, the game may turn sour for the 49ers.