NFC Notes: 49ers, Kyler Murray, Cardinals, Rams


49ers HC Kyle Shanahan came away more pleased with how Trey Lance performed when filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 4 than he sounded in the immediate aftermath of the game. 

“When thrown into the battle here, he got more comfortable as the game went, especially going home and watching the tape after, there was encouraging stuff,” Shanahan said, via Cam Inman of the Mercury News. “He’ll see some things out there that he’s never seen. But what you like about him and stuff he might not be ready for, he can overcompensate with his athletic ability and how competitive he is, and how good of a football player he is.”


Part of the success for the Cardinals and QB Kyler Murray — along with why they think this year might be different than last — is because they are less reliant on Murray’s legs this year. Through four games, Murray has 23 carries compared to 32 carries at this same point last year.

“It’s a total difference right now in our identity,” Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds said via ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. “When we don’t have to rely on his legs and when we can just use his legs as a bonus, it just helps us out tremendously and it keeps the balance for us and helps those guys on the outside, as well, win one-on-one matchups.”

Murray himself was part of the impetus for that change, as he spoke a couple of times throughout the offseason about wanting to run less. 

“I think that’s dangerous,” Murray said. “I don’t feel like I need to be running the ball as much. When it’s necessary, yeah.”

Murray’s legs are still a dangerous component of the offense, but they’ve taken a backseat as he’s become a much better passer in 2021. 

“Yeah, I want him to run all the time, but that’s not his type of party,” Kingsbury said. “He’s playing really good from the pocket and when he needs to run, he’s running. But he’s never going to be Lamar or Cam, where you’re pulling guards and running him up in there, and we understand that. So, we got to pick our spots and when he needs to go, he’ll go.”

“I think we just came to a mutual understanding: ‘How can we maximize you as a player and take advantage of that God-given ability you have to run as fast as anybody I’ve ever seen and also allow you to play quarterback at the level you want to play?'” Kingsbury added. “So, I think we’re in a good place with it.”


Entering Week 5 against the Seahawks, the Rams’ offensive line had so far been one of the better units in the league. Elder statesman and left tackle Andrew Whitworth took a pay cut to come back and continue to help shepherd a younger group. That’s paid off with guys like G David Edwards and G Austin Corbett making big strides in their game this year. 

“I continued to say, ‘if you just give these guys some time to actually play in NFL games, and grow up and mature,” Whitworth said via the Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue. “(Now) we’ve got really got a young line — outside of myself — who is kind of growing into who they’re going to be as football players. They’ve played, they’ve seen a lot of things. So now they’re just getting a chance to work on their talent level and their execution level, things like that. And you’re seeing the fruit of it.”

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