In 2019, the San Francisco 49ers defense dominated most opponents, plastering quarterbacks with a domineering front.
One expectation seemed to be Kyler Murray.
The Arizona Cardinals’ Offensive Rookie of the Year had two of his best games against San Francisco last season. Murray posted passer ratings of 130.7 and 101.8 in his two starts versus the 49ers in 2019 (the Cardinals lost both games). They were the second- and third-highest ratings by a starting QB against San Francisco (behind only Drew Brees’ 138.4).
In the two starts, Murray completed 41-of-57 passes for a 72 percent completion percentage for 391 yards and four touchdown passes and added 101 rushing yards and another TD.
Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa believes the Niners are better prepared to corral Murray in 2020.
“We know what we are facing,” Bosa said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “Obviously, we knew he was mobile last year, but now we know where he likes to go, where he likes to roll out, where he likes to escape. Little things like that.”
The Niners sacked Murray seven times last season (he was sacked 48 times total on the year). Bosa didn’t get one of his nine sacks against Murray.
In preparation for facing the Cards QB, the Niners have enlisted receiver Richie James and rookie RB JaMychal Hasty to mimic Murray’s ability to scamper out of the pocket.
“We have Richie, I think he’s going to do some of the zone read,” Bosa said. “Hasty, our new running back, I think Kyle said they might come over to the scout team because (backup QBs) Nick (Mullens) and C.J. (Beathard) aren’t cutting it with the speed.”
The Cardinals improved on paper this offseason, particularly with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. Bosa knows that slowing Murray is goal No. 1 entering Sunday afternoon’s tilt.
Including playoffs, the 49ers were 3-4 in 2020 against QBs that had 25-plus rush yards in the game (12-0 in all other games), including their Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes: 29 rush yards)
“We just have a better plan this year of how to stop (Murray) and get to those third-and-longs that we want to get to,” Bosa said.
The Murray vs. Bosa battle is the 24th matchup between the reigning Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year in NFL history — the OROY has won seven of the previous 10 meetings. The last game between the reigning OROY and the reigning DROY was Dallas QB Dak Prescott and Chargers DE Joey Bosa (Nick’s brother) in Week 12, 2017 (LAC def DAL 28-6).
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