Kyler Murray got to Levi's Stadium last Sunday and was lost.
Not physically. Mentally.
"My operation before a game, I didn't really know what I was doing," the quarterback said, after missing the first start of his NFL career because of an ankle injury.
The Cardinals, with Colt McCoy playing in Murray's spot, walloped the 49ers, 31-17. What happens against the Panthers Sunday remains unclear. Both Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury said Murray remains day-to-day, and Murray – while present – did not take part in Wednesday's walkthrough.
(The Cards didn't practice given all their injuries; there were 12 players listed as DNP on the injury report.)
But Murray sounded optimistic that he could return to the lineup Sunday.
"That's what I am hoping for," Murray said. "Obviously I'm day to day right now but I think I've made crazy strides in a positive direction since (the injury) happened."
Murray later added "I think we've got a great plan. I feel way better than when I talked (to the media) last time."
Murray would like to avoid having to go through the weirdness on a personal level that was the 49ers game. He said he can "count on one hand" the number of games he has not been available to play, which was not fun.
But, Murray added, "the guys had my back and handled business, and it was fun to watch."
There is still a chance the game Sunday will be a battle of the backups. The Panthers definitely are without their starter; Sam Darnold has a broken right shoulder blade and P.J. Walker will get the start, with former Cardinal Matt Barkley signed off the Titans practice squad to be the backup.
If Murray can't go, McCoy – who completed 22 of 26 passes against the 49ers, an 84.7 percentage that was the second-best in franchise history to Kurt Warner's 92.3 (24-for-26) against the Jaguars in 2009 -- is available.
McCoy's showing might make it tempting for Kingsbury to hold Murray out one more week.
"(Colt) is the only one that I've seen in there that will eat dinner with the coaches every now and then because he treats it like he is a coach, and he prepares that way," Kingsbury said. "When his number is called, he knows exactly where to go with the ball and how to move the football. We've been very fortunate to have him here on a lot of different levels, but it was great to see him have success actually on the field on Sunday."
That wouldn't be Murray's first choice, although he understands the situation. Still, it was hard not to hear the desire to play in his voice, the acknowledgement that missing so much practice can make it "feel like you're getting away from it in a sense."
Missed practice time won't hinder him, however. At least, that's how Murray sees it. Anything to find a way back to the lineup.
"I don't like missing any time," Murray said. "As soon as the season starts, you're kind of getting beat up and then an injury, you are kind of behind the 8-ball. I don't think there was any recharging for me. Mentally it's not fun either, not being able to be yourself and play."
Images of the Cardinals Cheerleaders from our Week 8 game against the Green Bay Packers