Cardinals vs. SF 49ers: 3 biggest concerns for Kyle Shanahan in Week 1

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Sheldon Day, SF 49ers, Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Sheldon Day #96 of the San Francisco 49ers chases Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

No. 2: SF 49ers Tackling Kyler Murray

While his overall body of work wasn’t at a league MVP level, Kyler Murray showed more than enough to suggest he’ll be a star in this league.

Particularly in both games faced against the 49ers last season. After one game, then-Niners defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was quoted as saying how tying to tackle Murray was going up against something “like a little squirrel running everywhere and everything.”

Murray’s rushing prowess last season was just part of the equation. It’s his ability to extend plays with his legs that should create some concern for Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Last year, San Francisco had some issues with mobile quarterbacks, including Murray, as well as the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson. Overall, the 49ers run defense took a step back last year, too, as the team allowed an average of 4.5 yards per carry — 23rd overall in the league.

And quarterback rushers were a big reason why.

The Niners’ selection of defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw in Round 1 of this year’s NFL Draft is expected to bolster the run defense. Yet with linebacker Fred Warner potentially staying on the reserve/COVID-19 list to begin the year, a mobile quarterback like Murray could be much more problematic.