Kyler Murray is inherently an issue for defenses. He has premier arm talent and has a knack for escaping pressure and scrambling for a half-dozen yards on just about every down. But perhaps his most frustrating quality, as far as the people trying to take his head off are concerned, is his tendency to slide extraordinarily late. He might lead the league in tackles with how often he takes himself to the ground.
Now, that’s not a criticism of Murray. He is a small man in football terms (listed at a perhaps generous 5’10”) making a business decision. There’s no question he’s seen what happens to reckless running quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III. Their bodies don’t hold up. You scramble only when you have to, and you make sure you get down. And boy does he get down.
San Francisco was twice flagged on Sunday when Dre Greenlaw and then Kerry Hyder, were called for personal fouls on Murray. Neither was an egregious, late hit, and both required extended discussions from the referees. Hyder’s, in particular seemed, well, soft. He was attempting to tackle over Murray, trying to get his body out of the way as he realized at the last second that Murray, diving forward rather than sliding like he normally does, was giving himself up.
Richard Sherman was understandably bothered by this catch-22, wherein defensive players have to be aggressive in stopping the most elusive player on the field, but they have to make the decision sometimes without the amount of time required to change a decision.
“It’s a frustrating thing when the refs make calls when he’s running the football and guys are trying to go over him and trying to halfway tackle him,” Sherman said. “You don’t know when to take the chance to tackle him or let him run. That was a tough thing today, they got a 15-yard penalty on on Kerry Hyder on a play where he’s cutting back and he’s making moves and it’s like you, once you commit to tackling a guy and he’s in the middle of a move, you don’t know if he’s going to the ground or he’s staying up. So I think that was the thing that made it more difficult today.”
Raheem Mostert, who was stopped just short of a touchdown on fourth-and-one, or at least it was called that way on the field and held without definitive proof to overturn the call, was also displeased with the refs.
Though, like every 49ers player who was made available to the media after the 24-20 loss, including Sherman, he also expressed displeasure with himself.
“I know that I missed a couple opportunities,” Mostert said. “That fourth and one on the goal line, I feel like I scored and everybody else on this hour knew that scored, but you just can’t leave those calls on the refs and that’s what I did. So I gotta do a better job, being better. There were a couple of runs I missed out there on the field.”