Kyler Murray had just found DeAndre Hopkins for a 30-yard gain down to the San Francisco 9-yard line, and the next play – the chance to all but knock the hope from the 49ers Sunday – was going to go right back to his best receiver.
"At that point, it's like, 'Yeah, take over,' " said Murray, who checked out of the play to get it to Hopkins. "Throw it his way and allow him to make me look good."
Hopkins did, using his vice-like giant hands to snare the ball despite great coverage by cornerback Josh Norman and giving the Cardinals what turned out to be the winning points in the 17-10 win at State Farm Stadium.
"Great coverage, better catch by I," Hopkins said.
"When he's making plays like that," coach Kliff Kingsbury said, "it's like, 'Throw the play sheet out.' "
Hopkins didn't have his best game ever, making six catches for 87 yards. But he was the closer the Cardinals needed Sunday.
"I never ask to be part of it," Hopkins said. "I hope they know that I should."
In addition to his two key catches on that drive, he gave the Cardinals a first down on the game's final possession, grabbing the ball on the sideline but letting himself drop immediately on his butt to the ground inbounds, ensuring the clock would keep running.
"He's sly like a fox," Kingsbury said.
Hopkins also became the player with the most catches in NFL history before age 30, with his 770 receptions surpassing former teammate Larry Fitzgerald.
"I've got to thank all 20 of my quarterbacks," Hopkins joked, but added, "I just want to be reliable for my team.
"Shoot, draft day, I didn't think I was going to be a first-round guy."
MAXX WILLIAMS, RODNEY HUDSON GO DOWN
Clouding the victory some were the injuries to tight end Maxx Williams (knee) and center Rodney Hudson (ribs). Williams' injury did not look good, the helmet of 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley crunching out the inside of the right knee. Williams was carted off, an injury so severe that all of his teammates streamed across the field to the San Francisco sideline to give him encouragement.
"Football happens, you can't change it, you can't really do anything," Murray said. "I don't know what he could have differently, it's unfortunate. We're all behind him, praying for him,
"He's in a majority of a lot of our plays. He's a big part of our offense, so yes it takes a toll on a lot of the stuff you can do and call."
Kingsbury didn't have any official update on either injury. Murray said he hoped Hudson would be OK, but it is ribs injuries that kept Kelvin Beachum out most of two games and half of a third and sidelined cornerback Byron Murphy Sunday against the Niners.
Linebacker Ezekiel Turner (shoulder) also left the game. Murray was caught on camera getting his arm looked at, but Murray said he was fine and Kingsbury said it was just "bumps and bruises."
RONDALE MOORE GETS WORK
Whether it was in part because running back Chase Edmonds was dealing with a shoulder injury or just because he didn't touch it much against the Rams, wide receiver Rondale Moore was a bigger part of the offense Sunday.
He had five catches for 59 yards and another three rushes for 38 yards, along with a 12-yard punt return. He made two huge plays, one a 26-yard run that was nearly a touchdown to set up the Cardinals' first score, the second an amazing 33-yard catch falling out of bounds in front of the Cards' sideline.
"He goes out there and wants to be in every play," Kingsbury said. "He stands right by me like a little puppy dog, like, 'What are you doing' (while) looking at me. But he is a tremendous football player."