Kliff Kingsbury wanted to make sure it was clear that whatever it was that Josh Norman, the veteran 49ers cornerback, said to him Sunday when both were flagged was nothing "malicious."
"I like Josh. I know Josh," Kingsbury said after the Cardinals stomped the 49ers to get to 5-0 on the road this season. "I think it was just friendly banter that got misinterpreted.
"I shouldn't have been out there doing that."
But it was a microcosm of Kingsbury's emotional day Sunday. The Cardinals were without a bunch of players, no one more important than starting quarterback Kyler Murray, and as good as the Cards have played, taking away Murray, and Green, and D-Hop, and early in the game Chase Edmonds, and Justin Pugh, usually doesn't end well.
And it was fair to wonder if part of Kingsbury -- who has taken his share of slings and arrows in his three years with some questioning his coaching -- to want badly to win a game when he did not have the magic of Murray, the magic people would inevitably point to and not give him the credit.
Kingsbury didn't say it was true, but he didn't dismiss it out of hand either, saying the tension "built all week." The 49ers are a good team, and they were a measuring stick when the Kingsbury arrived, a 13-3 Super Bowl team that showed Kingsbury just how far his team needed to go.
Sunday, "I think all of us were really fired up."
None more so than Kingsbury, who drifted some five yards inbounds a handful of times in the first half, including his tête-à-tête with Norman.
But Kingsbury had a hell of a game. His playcalling all worked – the Kirk-to-Wesley pass, the perfectly timed screen to James Conner that produced a 45-yard touchdown, the McCoy-to-Kirk bomb – and his team bounced back from its one loss. He may have gotten heated a time or two during the game, but Kingsbury was wearing a wide smile with his Wayfarer sunglasses as he sprinted to the locker room after the game.
"You've got to pick your spots," Kingsbury said. "If you feel like (the emotion) needs to come out, it comes out."
-- D.J. Humphries, on bumping Norman out of the way after his chat with Kingsbury: "I really don't know what was happening, but you're not going to talk tough with my coach like that on the football field. I just saw him arms flexed, talking to Kliff, and I felt I needed to nip it in the bud.
"I was looking for him after the game, but I didn't see him. I had my helmet off. I wanted to give him the advantage."
-- So much to talk about from this game, and unfortunately, injuries are a big part of it. Kyler and Hop may or may not be back this week – "I don't want to make that prediction just yet," Kingsbury said – and during the game the Cardinals lost guard Justin Pugh (calf – another calf?), running back Chase Edmonds (ankle), guard Max Garcia (unknown, maybe his Achilles again?), tight end David Wells (hand) and long snapper Aaron Brewer (also unknown.)
This team has been super resilient, but you hope the injuries take a few weeks off at some point.
-- Chandler Jones now has the franchise record for sacks with his 67th, surpassing Freddie Joe Nunn – who just passed away. Jones had a T-shirt made with Nunn's picture that he wore under his jersey, and when he got the sack, he pulled up his jersey to show the world. Jones said he wore it once before, against the Packers, but didn't get the sack.
"That's a great milestone for me personally," Jones said, saying he dedicated the accomplishment to Nunn and his family.
-- What a game for Colt McCoy. This might be the best team he's ever started for, but he set a career-high with his 84.6 completion percentage in a game (22 of 26.)
-- With Zaven Collins dealing with a shoulder issue, Tanner Vallejo played most of the game (Collins did see time on special teams) as Vance Joseph went to a 4 defensive linemen-4 linebacker-3 defensive back look early in the game to clamp down on the run. It worked. The 49ers only had 39 rush yards, the fewest the Cards have allowed all season and a welcome turnaround after how the Packers gashed them last game.
-- Chris Streveler, active for the first time this season, had a package in and was in for a couple of plays, handing it off once and running for two yards. That won't be available most weeks when Kyler is healthy, but it's an interesting twist.
-- The CPR the Cardinals practice – club, punch, rip at the ball – paid off Sunday. Both Byron Murphy and Isaiah Simmons punched the ball loose for fumbles, with Jordan Hicks recovering both. Huge turnovers both.
-- James Conner is having a hell of a season. And Markus Golden too.
The Cardinals are having a hell of a season. They'll enjoy this flight home.