Kyler Murray could see more running opportunities vs. 49ers

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The Arizona Cardinals have the NFL’s No. 1 offense both in yards and in scoring, and they have been doing it without much production from Kyler Murray as a runner.

Yes, he has three rushing touchdowns in four games, but he only has 109 rushing yards in four games.

He prefers to run less but against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5, he might have more opportunities to do damage with his legs.

49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans spoke about Murray and his escapability.

He doesn’t think Murray can be simply kept in the pocket.

“If he wants to get out of the pocket, he’s going to get out of the pocket whether he retreats back 10 yards,” he told reporters Thursday. “I think guys throw that out, where keeping him in the pocket. Well, this guy’s elusive enough. He’s probably the fastest guy on the field. So, if he wants to get out, he’s going to get out.”

We see that regularly. Even when he is not pressured, he moves to create time, to allow routes to develop down the field and also perhaps to increase his field vision.

Ryan noted Murray isn’t moving to try and run this season. But that is where a slight change in the offensive game plan could lead to big rushing numbers from Murray.

“When you see quarterbacks break out of the pocket, your natural reaction is the guys running with the ball, so I have to go up and get him,” Ryans explained. “But you have to understand, with Kyler, what’s been our main focus all week is talking about plastering and coverage because he’s not escaping to run per se. He’s escaping to hit the big explosive play, so our guys have to be disciplined, stay back in coverage and we’ll come up after he crosses the line of scrimmage.”

If the defenders in coverage are going to wait until Murray crosses the line of scrimmage to come up and get it, he will hurt them. Once he is in the open field, it is lights out. He gets down before he is hit. He gets out of bounds and, frankly, there might not be a better runner at eluding defenders in the open field.

If they stick to the receivers, there will be open spaces to run. We saw him convert a 3rd-and-16 with an 18-yard run. Two or three of those sorts of plays and the Cardinals might break the 49ers defense.

Murray has not had a big running game yet this season. That could change this week.

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