SF 49ers: Week 1 defensive grade vs. Cardinals Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

How did the SF 49ers defense do against opposing quarterback, the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray in Week 1?

Week 1 of the 2020 season didn’t end particularly well for the SF 49ers. In a game in which they led for a good portion against the visiting Arizona Cardinals, they closed on a poor fourth quarter, ceding 14 points.

And ended up losing 24-20.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and quarterback Kyler Murray carved the Niners defense up in different ways. Hopkins had a career-best 14 receptions and made big plays when it mattered gaining 151 yards receiving in the process.

Murray exploited the 49ers defense with both his arm and his legs.

So how did the Niners grade specifically against him?

SF 49ers against the run

It’s no secret the 49ers defense have had trouble as of late with mobile quarterbacks, but this past Sunday it was glaringly bad.

In his first two meetings against San Francisco last season, Murray averaged 50.5 yards per game on the ground. In his 2020 Week 1 meeting with them, he ran for 91 yards.

That made him Arizona’s leading rusher.

The SF 49ers just were not able to contain him. Consider that in their two matchups against him last season: the Niners averaged 3.5 sacks per game. On Sunday, they were only able to muster two sacks.

Whenever Murray felt pressured in the pocket, he would take off downfield for big chunks of yardage, averaging 7 yards per attempt.

Therefore, for their complete inability to contain Murray on the ground, the 49ers get an F-grade in that category.

SF 49ers against the pass

Murray averaged 232.62 yards passing per game in 2019. In Week 1, he threw for 230 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The 49ers were able to hold him under his average from last season and were able to get an interception off of him. Those were the pluses.

However, those 230 yards were potent in the fact that 151 of them went to Hopkins. He was constantly open when Murray needed to get a first down and San Francisco had no answer for him.

His most damaging play was a 33-yard reception in which he went down at the 1-yard line and set up the game-winning touchdown for the Cardinals. In that play, he seemed to be uncovered and was wide open when Murray threw the ball his way.

Overall in defending the passing game, the 49ers did a much better job than they did against the run, from strictly a numbers standpoint. But the way that Murray picked up first downs in the passing game was very damaging and exposed some holes in coverage.

Therefore the 49ers get a C-grade in defending Murray in the passing game.

SF 49ers overall grade against Kyler Murray

Murray had an excellent game on the ground and a decent game passing against San Francisco. The 49ers put up a fight against him but ultimately came up short. It had to do with the number of big plays that were given up.

Murray’s big runs and big throws to Hopkins always seemed to come at the most inopportune times for the Niners. Just when it looked like their defense would be getting off the field, a drive would be extended.

Although the 49ers only lost by four, the game could’ve been a double-digit loss had Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez not missed two field goals. The 49ers defense came out swinging early but seemed gassed as the game progressed.

They earn an overall D-grade against Murray. This is from a combination of his stats as well as their inability to consistently stop him on third downs and get off the field.

Next. Position grades, analysis from SF 49ers ugly Week 1 loss vs. Cardinals. dark

The silver lining here is that the SF 49ers will get another crack at their division foe later in the season. Hopefully, they can learn from their mistakes against Murray and come back more prepared for their second game against Arizona.