Cardinals LB Markus Golden Takes Shot at 49ers Rookie QB Trey Lance

Markus Golden - Arizona Cardinals

Getty Arizona Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden (right) celebrates a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in December 2020.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden didn’t wait until kickoff to take his first shot at San Francisco 49ers rookie QB Trey Lance.

Lance was announced as San Francisco’s starting quarterback Friday, October 8, after Jimmy Garoppolo was ruled out for the game with a strained calf.

Meeting with reporters that same day, Golden was asked about preparing for Lance, who like Cardinals QB Kyler Murray can be dangerous as a runner.

“He ain’t Kyler Murray,” Golden said, quickly shutting down the comparison.

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“Kyler Murray is different,” he continued. “There aren’t too many people that can prepare you for a guy like Kyler.”

Golden also had a lot of nice things to say about Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft who will make his first pro start Sunday, October 10, against the undefeated Cardinals.

“The young quarterback over there, he’s got a lot of skill,” Golden said, noting the 6-foot-4, 224-pound QB has “a big arm when he’s throwing deep.”

“And he’s pretty quick. He can get away from the blockers, so you’ve got to be able to keep an eye on him and know where he likes to escape at,” he said.

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Cardinals ‘Not Proud’ of Run Defense

Stopping the 49ers’ running game, whether it’s Lance or rookie running backs Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon, will be the Cardinals’ top priority against the 49ers, Golden said.

“You get excited as a pass rusher rushing against a rookie, but at the same time, with this team particularly that we’re playing, you’ve got to stop the run first,” he said. “If they don’t have to pass with him, they won’t pass with him. They’ll run the ball 100 times if they could.”

The Cardinals (4-0) have struggled against the run this season, joining the Kansas City Chiefs in allowing an NFL-high 5.4 yards per carry. The Chiefs (29.2) and Cardinals (39.2) also have the lowest PFF grades against the run this season.

“It’s the one area we’re not overly proud of at the moment,” Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt said. “It’s gap assignments, it’s tackling, it’s just finishing the plays. We’ve just got to be better.”

Rookie RBs Mitchell and Sermon have taken turns in the 49ers backfield this season, with Mitchell getting the bulk of the carries in Weeks 1 and 2 before injuring his shoulder in the fourth quarter of San Francisco’s 17-11 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mitchell, a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, rushed for 104 yards in the 49ers’ season-opener against the Detroit Lions on September 12. The former Louisiana star stepped in when starter Raheem Mostert suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Lions.

Sermon, a third-round draft pick in 2021, sustained a concussion in Week 2 against the Eagles on his first NFL carry. The former Ohio State running back took over in Weeks 3 and 4, rushing for 89 yards on 19 carries in the 49ers’ 28-21 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks on October 3.

Both running backs will be available against the Cardinals.

“It’s going to be a tough, physical game,” Golden said, “but these are games we look forward to.”


‘Heartbeat’ of Arizona’s Defense

Golden, 30, has been the Cardinals’ most consistent run-stopper this season, according to PFF. The former Missouri star has a team-high 75.7 grade against the run.

Golden also has eight tackles, 2.0 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles, including one in the Cardinals’ 37-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams on October 3.

“He’s a guy who day in, day out just brings it,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s a real leader and heartbeat for this team and this defense.”

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