It had trap game written all over it, and the Cardinals damn near sprung it on the 49ers.
Entering Thursday night's game at 7-0, Kyle Shanahan's club just a few days to prepare for rookie sensation Kyler Murray and the Cardinals' Air Raid offense, and had a prime-time NFC West showdown with the Seahawks looming after their trip to the desert.
So, if ever there was a time for the 49ers to let one slip, it was Thursday.
Sure enough, Murray drove the Cardinals right down the field on their first possession, aided by a horse-collar tackle penalty, and took an early 7-0 lead. The 49ers responded with 21 unanswered points to end the half, the final seven of which came after the Cardinals stuffed the 49ers on fourth-and-goal from the inch line, only to have it negated when Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury called a timeout before the ball was snapped. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 1-yard score on the ensuing play, and it looked like the 49ers would roll to 8-0.
But the Cardinals didn't quit, and an 88-yard touchdown pass from Murray to fellow rookie Andy Isabella, plus a two-point conversion, cut the 49ers' lead to 28-25 with under five minutes to play.
Arizona's defense, however, couldn't get the ball back, as Garoppolo hit tight end Ross Dwelley for 11 yards on third-and-9 on the other side of the two-minute warning to send San Francisco into victory formation.
Asked after the game about his team's performance, Murray believed the Cardinals deserved a better fate.
"I feel like we should have won the game," Murray told reporters after the game. "Obviously, they are a great team. At the end of the day, I'm confident in us, and I feel like we should have won the game. I'm not really satisfied with coming up short."
Despite the loss, Murray showed well against a 49ers defense that had held four straight opposing quarterbacks to 158 yards or less. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 34 yards. He did not turn over the ball, and he showcased both his arm and legs -- something the 49ers must deal with for years to come.
The Cardinals took Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, allowing defensive end Nick Bosa to fall to the 49ers at No. 2. Bosa has been outstanding so far this season, but he was a virtual non-factor in the first battle between the top picks. The Ohio State product registered only one tackle and did not sack Murray.
But he left State Farm Stadium at 8-0, while Murray and the Cardinals dropped to 3-5-1.
That record, however, doesn't paint the whole picture for Year 1 of the Murray-Kingsbury duo. There were a lot of questions surrounding Murray and Kingsbury's ability to succeed in the NFL, but the two have had moments of brilliance, overcoming a porous offensive line and a shaky defense to become a team that's a real pain to face.
Murray had the 49ers on the ropes Thursday night, showing he'll be an issue for the 49ers.
Round 1 went to Bosa and the 49ers. Round 2 comes in two weeks at Levi's Stadium.