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Matt Barrows explains why 49ers’ defense is particularly vulnerable to Kyler Murray

© Kyle Terada | 2020 Sep 13

The inability to corral Russell Wilson has served as nightmare fuel for the 49ers and their fans for years. Now there’s another quarterback to worry about.

Kyler Murray did his best Wilson impression on Sunday, scampering for nearly a hundred yards while handing San Francisco a frustrating season-opening loss to Arizona, 24-20. Murray hurt the 49ers in their last meeting in 2019 as well, rushing for 67 yards on eight attempts.

San Francisco has one of the defensive lines in football, so why do they have such an issue catching Murray? According to 49ers beat writer Matt Barrows, it’s precisely what makes the 49ers great that also makes them vulnerable when facing mobile quarterbacks.

“Their defense — and it’s a great philosophy, it works for them — is to be extremely aggressive on the defensive line,” Barrows said on Murph & Mac Monday morning “Just rush upfield as fast as you can, and against most teams that works. Against the Cardinals that exposes the defense. It’s almost as if Murry is using the 49ers’ strength against it. It’s like a Bruce Lee karate move. You use the opponents momentum against him.

“What Murray would do is drop back, and if his first read wasn’t there he’d just pick a lane. There’s always a lane with the 49ers pass rush because they use a “wide 9″ which by definition spreads that defensive line out. He’s so quick that despite having some talent at defensive tackle and whatnot, those guys are just not fast enough to keep up with him. If he sees a little opening, he’s through there, he makes one guy miss in the linebacking crew, and all of the sudden he’s got 20 yards. That was rinse, repeat in this game for them.”

That doesn’t mean the strategy isn’t without it’s merits vs. Murray. In the two games last season, the 49ers sacked Murray a combined seven times. On Sunday they got to him twice, but Murray will take the trade off of 91 yards rushing if that’s how often he’s getting taken down.

“The 49ers put pressure on him, I’m sure their pressure rate is going to be great, and people will say ‘pressure is more important than sacks.’ Well not against Kyler Murray it isn’t, because he takes pressure and turns it right around on you. All of the sudden he’s scampering for a first down.”

Listen to the full interview below.


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