49ers may dodge Kyler Murray in Week 11 game vs. Cardinals

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

32. 49ers -8. 5-4. 42. ESPN. Monday, Nov. 21. 4-6. 8:15 p.m. ET

The 49ers may not have to play Kyler Murray when they face the Cardinals on Monday night, but history suggests that won’t make things automatically better.

The San Francisco 49ers certainly aren’t going to feel bad for any team experiencing significant injuries, not after what the Niners had to endure back in 2020 and what they went through over a good chunk of this season, too.

But their Week 11 opponent, a familiar foe in the Arizona Cardinals, could be missing starting quarterback Kyler Murray for both teams’ showdown at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, on Monday Night Football.

Murray has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and that setback actually forced him to miss the Cards’ Week 10 bout with the Los Angeles Rams, who were also down their own starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford.

In the battle of the backups, Arizona’s Colt McCoy defeated LA’s John Wolford, 27-17.

Murray had been listed as questionable for that contest. Heading into Week 11, it’s likely that’ll be the case again.

Yet there’s a good chance he won’t end up playing.

Kyler Murray could miss Week 11 vs. 49ers with hamstring injury

Without diving too deep into the medical analysis, hamstring injuries (or any soft-tissue injury, for that matter) can be tricky when it comes to recovery.

And most would probably agree that allowing a hamstring to fully heal is of the utmost importance, as rushing back from such an injury can ultimately create more harm than good in plenty of cases.

This is precisely what Mike Florio and Chris Simms over at Pro Football Talk argued, suggesting Murray should elect to rest in Week 11 against San Francisco:

Murray has gone 2-3 against the 49ers over his career, yet he’s always been a proverbial “thorn” in the Niners’ side, and all one needs to do is recall how now-Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner once referred to chasing Murray was “like a little squirrel.”

For San Francisco, potentially not having to chase Murray at Estadio Azteca’s 7,218-foot elevation (nearly 2,000 feet higher than Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado) has to be a massive relief.

But, the last time the 49ers didn’t have to face Murray when playing the Cardinals, things didn’t go well.

Colt McCoy beat 49ers back when Cardinals were without Kyler Murray

Nope, we’re not done with McCoy yet.

Go back to the second of two NFC West meetings between these teams in 2021, the Week 9 tilt at Levi’s Stadium when the Niners were hoping to avoid a 3-5 start to the season and had to feel pretty good about facing a Murray-less Arizona squad that had beat them in Week 5, previously.

The Cardinals’ starter that week? McCoy.

Sure, San Francisco turned the ball over three times in that game, and those gaffes played a massive role in the 49ers’ embarrassing 31-17 defeat. But McCoy ended up having an excellent game, going 22-of-29 for 249 yards, a touchdown and a passer rating of 119.4.

Read More: 49ers vs. Cardinals: How to watch, stream Week 11 game in Mexico City

At least the Niners bounced back the following week, but that game was arguably the low point of their season in 2021.

If McCoy winds up having to deliver under center for Arizona again this weekend, one can only hope San Francisco responds by not committing turnovers.

Heck, the 49ers should focus on that anyway regardless of whether McCoy or Murray starts.

Both teams kick off on Monday, Nov. 21 at 8:15 p.m. ET.

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