Kyler Murray takes hit, 49ers run all over to tank Cardinals’ playoff hopes

Dec 26, 2020, 5:38 PM | Updated: 6:05 pm
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) eludes the reach of San Francisco 49ers defensive en...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) eludes the reach of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) during the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyler Murray took a hit and remained on the turf for a few minutes after throwing an incomplete pass in his Arizona Cardinals’ 20-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday.

The play, which happened with 14 seconds left in the game, added another layer to Arizona’s loss that submarined its playoff hopes. Murray walked off the field under his own power and was healthy enough to greet 49ers players at the end of the game.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Murray was being evaluated for a leg injury and had no update after the game.

Murray was not made available to reporters.

It had already been a disappointing day for the Cardinals (8-7), whose playoff odds fell to 37% with the loss, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The Chicago Bears (7-7) can catch Arizona and grab the final NFC Wild Card spot by winning out. They face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday and the Green Bay Packers in the season finale on Jan. 3.

On Saturday, San Francisco, with third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard leading the offense. rushed for 227 yards and 7.6 yards per carry against the Cardinals.

A key series defined a disjointed game.

Trailing 14-12 and with 9:04 left in the game, Arizona had the ball and went for it on 4th-and-2 at their own 35-yard line. Murray’s pass was batted down at the line, and the 49ers used a 34-yard rush by Jeff Wilson and a one-yard touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk to go up 20-12.

Only 8:36 remained in the game, and it appeared Arizona would have to score twice to keep their playoff odds healthy. But 49ers kicker Robbie Gould missed the extra point attempt, and that gave the Cardinals better odds.

It turned out not to matter.

Arizona drove 61 yards over 10 plays and four minutes, but from the 49ers’ 14-yard line, Murray tossed an interception in the end zone to Ahkello Witherspoon.

The 49ers burned 3:32 off the clock but their drive stalled, and Gould couldn’t put the game away, missing a 37-yard field goal attempt with 1:05 left.

That led to one last chance for the Cardinals, but Murray ran out time on their last chance on fourth down, flinging the ball before taking the aforementioned hits.

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