SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — The 49ers play the Arizona Cardinals on Halloween, and here’s a scary thought: rookie defensive end Nick Bosa could be wearing a different shade of red in a different city right now. Fate wouldn’t have it.
The primetime game will showcase the fruits of April’s NFL draft and will pit the number one overall pick Kyler Murray, against sack-master Nick Bosa who went second overall.
No doubt the 49ers got a little lucky with Arizona drafting ahead of them. The Cardinals had just hired offensive guru head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and then in February, Murray declared for the NFL draft after forgoing his promising baseball career, eight months after being selected by the Oakland A’s in the MLB draft. It seemed certain most other teams wouldn’t have wanted Murray in the Cardinals position.
“We knew whoever was going to take Nick was going to get a dominant player in this league,” said Kingsbury.
The Cardinals kept the decision close to the vest, and Bosa was mentally preparing to be in the desert.
“Until they confirmed it was Kyler Murray, I definitely thought it was a possibility,” Bosa said. “Seemed like a really good destination, seemed like they had a good plan for the future.”
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was just as uncertain.
“I was worried about it until the pick,” he said. “I think both teams were real happy.”
Happy indeed, especially for the 49ers who haven’t been able to shake criticism from the 2005 draft when they selected Alex Smith over Hall of Fame-bound Aaron Rodgers. Through seven games, it seems the 49ers will be on the right end of history this time around.
Bosa was named NFC defensive player of the week after sacking Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen three times, plus the super-athletic interception in the backfield that he nearly returned for a touchdown.
Bosa has seven sacks in seven games this season; three behind the league leaders. Most importantly, the 49ers defense has allowed a league-best 224.4 yards per game which is a huge reason why the team is still undefeated.
The results for the Cardinals with Murray have been more of a mixed bag. The dual-threat quarterback has thrown for 1,988 yards (ranks 14th in the NFL) and 7 touchdowns. He’s rushed for 279 yards and two touchdowns and has given opposing defenses looks both under center and spread formations.
“His speed is definitely a problem,” said 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh of the short but quick Murray. “He’s got those young legs where he’s not afraid to take a hit.”
The 49ers are 10-point favorites against Murray and the Cardinals, but they haven’t beat them since 2014, and hopefully this is the beginning of a long rivalry between two promising rookies.