Cardinals vs. SF 49ers: Breaking down Niners defensive game plan
By Peter Panacy
How SF 49ers frustrate Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray sure did enough to showcase why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, passing for over 3,700 yards and 20 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 64.4 percent and a passer rating of 87.4.
And rushing for 544 yards and four touchdowns could present even more problems for San Francisco, which had issues facing mobile quarterbacks last season.
Kwon Alexander’s return helps mitigate that to an extent, but the key player to watch on spies is fellow linebacker Fred Warner, who was just removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list. When Murray scrambles or rushes, the tendency is to move to his left, the weak side of the formation, putting him closer to both Alexander and Warner.
So a strong-side blitz, or blitzing at all, might not be the approach Robert Saleh wants to take here. The 49ers don’t blitz much anyway, but Murray’s splits when blitzed versus not being are roughly the same, passer ratings of 74.0 and 74.5, respectively, per Pro Football Focus. But when Murray is pressured, his passer rating dropped to 56.7.
An interesting note here is Murray was in the pocket for more than 2.5 seconds on 46.8 percent of his dropbacks where he took 40 of his league-high 48 sacks.
Twenty-three of those were credited to Murray himself, per PFF.
Looking at the data, Murray can be dangerous when allowed to extend plays with his legs. But it’s also when he’s most vulnerable, putting an emphasis on the next item on Saleh’s to-do list for Sunday, limiting the damage done by DeAndre Hopkins.