Arizona’s Quarterback Uncertainty Could Be the 49ers’ Gain

Colt McCoy, Kyler Murray, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Colt McCoy of the Arizona Cardinals.

As San Francisco 49ers fans prepare to pack Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Monday Night Football, the Arizona Cardinals are in disarray. Kyler Murray, the former first-overall pick in 2019, could miss his second straight game with an ankle injury, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. And ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted November 16 that Murray’s backup, Colt McCoy, is day-to-day with a “minor knee injury.”

On paper, the Cardinals’ potential loss is the 49ers’ gain because San Francisco may get to face third-string quarterback Trace McSorley, who played two snaps in the third quarter of the Cardinals’ Week 10 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Get to Know 3rd-String Arizona Cardinals QB Trace McSorley

Since being drafted in the sixth round in 2019, McSorley has appeared in five games, three for the Baltimore Ravens and two for the Cardinals, completing a total of five of his 14 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown plus 38 more yards on the ground as a rusher. If he earns the start for the Cardinals in Week 11, it would be his first start in the NFL and presumably the most snaps he’s ever played in a game, given he’s played only 31 combined over his first five appearances.

A three-year starter at Penn State who led the Nittany Lions to a 31-9 record from 2016-18, McSorley can move around behind the line of scrimmage as a runner and make plays with his arm, rated as an average NFL-level cannon. He wasn’t projected to be drafted by’s Lance Zierlein, who ultimately was proved incorrect. However, the veteran scout had some kind things to say about McSorley in his draft profile overview.

“Gritty, successful three-year starter who fell victim to a disappointing regression during his senior season,” Zierlein wrote. “McSorley is a dual-threat quarterback who lacks size and arm talent but has shown an ability to throw with anticipation to help overcome his average arm strength. While McSorley can handle RPO duties, he seemed to be more comfortable and accurate when sitting down on throws from the pocket. He must regain his accuracy and confidence or he will need to try and transition to another position to make it.

49ers Face an Interesting Aerial Opportunity

Jimmy Garappolo will all but certainly enter Week 11 as the most experienced quarterback in the game, given that he has more appearances (71) than Murray (55), McCoy (53) or McSorley (five), and he faces a Cardinals pass defense that has struggled.

Arizona has given up 2,471 yards in 10 games, third worst in the league, and 17 touchdowns, which is tied for third worst. They also rank 28th in passing attempts, 23rd in passing yards allowed per game. With only one cornerback, nickel Antonio Hamilton, having a Defensive Grade higher than 55, according to Pro Football Focus, expect Kyle Shanahan to air the ball out down the field.

The game is Monday, November 21, at 8:15 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN in Mexico City. According to the Vivid Seats Fan Forecast, 82% of the fans in attendance at Estadio Azteca are projected to be supporters of the gold and red.


Read More