49ers will have hands full with Kyler Murray for foreseeable future


49ers will have hands full with Kyler Murray for foreseeable future

The 49ers got off to a winning start to the 2019 NFL season Sunday with a 31-17 road victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately for San Francisco, nobody in the NFC West lost.

The LA Rams went into Carolina and earned a tough 30-27 win over the Panthers, and the Seahawks managed to hold on and beat the Cincinnati Bengals 21-20 in Seattle. Both of those results were somewhat expected, as the NFC West squads were favored in both matchups.

That can't be said for the Arizona Cardinals, who were underdogs at home against the Detroit Lions. They didn't win, but they didn't lose either, as Arizona erased an 18-point second-half deficit to stun Detroit on the way to a 27-27 tie.

While the Cardinals never got a chance to attempt a game-winning kick in overtime, they wouldn't have even reached that point if not for the heroics of their rookie quarterback.

Kyler Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, looked somewhat overmatched in the preseason, and that remained the case Sunday as Detroit built a 17-3 lead in the first half, over which he completed just 6 of 16 passes for 41 yards and zero touchdowns with one interception. The second half -- and especially the fourth quarter -- presented a different story.

After the Lions increased their lead to 24-6 just 13 seconds into the fourth quarter, Murray began to work his magic. His deft touch was on display, as he found running back David Johnson down the seam for the first touchdown pass of his career.

That cut the Cardinals' deficit to 24-16, and in the final minute of regulation, Murray pulled Arizona even to send the game into OT.

With first-and-goal at the Lions' 4-yard line, Murray rolled out to his right and found none other than the immortal Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown to pull the Cardinals within two. 

Then, on the two-point conversion, Murray connected with Christian Kirk for the game-tying score.

Arizona got the ball to start overtime, and on the second play, Murray showed off his arm strength, finding Fitzgerald deep down the left side to set up a go-ahead field goal.

On each of those plays, you can see aspects of Murray's skill set that made him so appealing to Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals. Murray's athleticism is off the charts, he has great arm strength and accuracy, and as Week 1 showed, he also has a flair for the dramatic.

[RELATED: What we learned about 49ers in season-opening win over Bucs]

The 49ers' defense played a key role in their season-opening win, but moving forward, it sure looks like they'll have their hands full with Murray for many years to come.

Versatile Daniel Brunskill could find steady role with 49ers at right guard

Versatile Daniel Brunskill could find steady role with 49ers at right guard

Daniel Brunskill did not get as much attention as some of his better-known teammates, but 49ers offensive line coach John Benton might’ve been onto something when he looked back on path the club took to get to the Super Bowl.

“I’ve joked around that Dan Brunskill is our MVP, starting games at three different positions and we really didn't miss a beat,” Benton said during the week leading up to the game in Miami.

Brunskill proved to be the 49ers’ most-versatile offensive lineman. He started four games at right tackle for Mike McGlinchey. He stepped in for one start at left tackle for Joe Staley. Then, he started at right guard for Mike Person in the final two games of the regular season, including the Week 17 division clincher at Seattle.

“The neat thing about Brunskill, I really believe he could play all five spots on that offensive line,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in April.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Brunskill’s path to the starting lineup appears to be more defined this season. While he continues to brush up on each of the five positions, he is paying particular attention to right guard. He proved himself with the 49ers after originally entering the NFL in 2017 as an drafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons from San Diego State. He caught the attention of the 49ers' personnel department during the spring of 2019 with the San Diego Fleet of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

The 49ers released Person at the start of free agency after signing veteran Tom Compton. Brunskill, Compton and, perhaps, rookie Colton McKivitz will compete for the starting job.

“I definitely take a few more reps at right guard and focusing in on what I can do to be better at that position, specifically, a little bit more,” Brunskill said Thursday on a video call with reporters. “And, then, what I can to be better at all five positions, as a whole.”

Brunskill has been taking part in the 49ers’ virtual offseason program from North Dakota, where is he receiving assistance from his sister and his brother-in-law. Their main jobs, as Brunskill describes them, are to heave weighted balls at him to take the place of charging defensive linemen.

“You can practice your punching to simulate a defense because those have a little weight behind you,” Brunskill said. “And so I’ve been having them help me with that.

“Sometimes, I have them hold a med ball, and I do other drills off of that. They’ve definitely been very supportive and helped me the best way they could.”

[RELATED49ers' Raheem Mostert looks forward to running behind Trent Williams]

While remaining sharp physically and with his technique, Brunskill said he is also gaining more knowledge of the complexities of the 49ers’ offensive scheme. He said the offensive linemen are spending a lot more time going over the nuances of coach Kyle Shanahan’s system.

“When you understand the playbook more and understand what Kyle wants to do and what the offensive line coaches are asking you to do, you can just get better at what you do on each play to make the best block and to make the block work for how the play is designed to work,” Brunskill said.

Trent Williams, 49ers agree to restructure final year of contract

Trent Williams, 49ers agree to restructure final year of contract

Everyone is excited about the 49ers' acquisition of Trent Williams, from fans to running back Raheem Mostert.

The 49ers acquired the seven-time Pro-Bowl tackle in a trade with Washington during the 2020 NFL Draft, acquiring Williams to fill the hole left by the retiring Joe Staley. Williams, who sat out the 2019 season due to issues with his contract and Washington's management over what he considered a botched diagnosis of a cancerous tumor on his scalp.

The 32-year-old has one-year remaining on his contract with the 49ers, and the team already has agreed to restructure his contract to help out a player who didn't collect a check last year, Williams told NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

"One thing that Trent Williams told me during the interview is that he did get an agreement on the restructured final year of his contract due to make $12.5 million," Rapoport said Thursday on NFL Network. "Still going to make about that sum, but the 49ers put some of this money upfront. A little help for a guy who remember didn't make anything in 2019."

The restructured contract will kick in after Williams takes his physical. His base salary still is set at $12.5 million, per the NFLPA, but that number will drop once he receives the upfront money.

For the 49ers to find a way to quietly deal with Staley's retirement and secure an upgrade at the position was a stroke of genius. General manager John Lynch was concerned that the 49ers first-round trade up for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in which they surrendered a fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings would hamper their ability to secure a deal for Williams. It did not, as the 49ers sent a 2020 fifth-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick to Washington for the star tackle.

[RELATED: Seahawks' lack of O-line chemistry could give 49ers edge in NFC West]

Williams is thrilled to be reunited with coach Kyle Shanahan who was his offensive coordinator in Washington early in his career. He also feels "rejuvenated" after a year away from football and is in tremendous shape.

In an offseason of crafty moves, the 49ers trading for Williams is something that's sure to keep opponents up at night and keep Sean McVay asking for one more IPA.