Larry Fitzgerald didn't have his most spectacular game, with only four catches for 34 yards, all in the first half. But the veteran wideout wants to win.
So watching him race over to a prone DeAndre Hopkins, with 49ers defenders "struggling" to get off of Hopkins after a catch and the first-half clock winding down with the Cards in field goal range, wasn't a shock. Watching him grab the ball and sprint to the official at the hashmark to quickly get the ball spotted, so Kyler Murray could spike it and set up Zane Gonzalez' career-long 56-yard field goal, I mean, that's a play that won't be remembered because the box score won't show it.
But it was so Fitz.
"His IQ," Hopkins said. "He's one of the smartest guys I've been around."
Fitzgerald didn't speak after the Cardinals' win in San Francisco, which is going to happen in a coronavirus world where access is naturally limited in how many guys can do a Zoom call after a road game. But he did tweet.
"No better way to get things going...team win against a great opponent," Fitz said. "Felt good to get back out there and compete. Just the beginning."
The way the game started, with the offense looking, as Kliff Kingsbury put it, rusty, there were already some on Twitter wondering why the Cardinals had gotten so much offseason hype. Truthfully, one win doesn't justify the hype either. Not yet. But the way they rallied. The way Murray helped get the Cards the lead, watch it evaporate and then lead the Cardinals to another touchdown – that didn't happen last year. The defense coming up with a clutch stop – and actually playing solid all game – didn't happen last year either.
Long way to go. But what a way to get started.
-- DeAndre Hopkins. What a way to debut after that massive contract extension. And that was even after a first half where he and Kyler Murray didn't seem completely on the same page. It's only gonna be better.
-- Speaking of Murray, it does stink he lost his first 100-yard game to kneeling. But his scrambling is what takes him to the next level as a quarterback, and it's got to be a nightmare for the 49ers to think he's going to be doing it for such a long time.
-- The Cards had 180 yards rushing and more than 400 total, hard to imagine after the start but also another exclamation point on what people think this offense will be. Yes, Murray was scrambling for a bunch of rushing yards, but the offense is set up to potentially give him that option.
-- It was a rough start for rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who was flagged for a horsecollar tackle on the first play of the game and got caught on the same angle route out of the backfield that got fellow linebacker Chandler Jones last year in San Francisco. Raheem Mostert got Simmons taking one step too many to the outside, and shot back inside for a 76-yard catch-and-run. It's all part of the learning curve.
"I didn't see him get down," safety Budda Baker said. "I saw resilience."
-- George Kittle, a non-factor, really, with four catches for 44 yards. It might've been partially because of Baker's hit to his legs on a high Jimmy G pass late in the first half, but they held him in check. Tight ends only had six catches for 56 yards for the Niners.
-- No crowd is different. Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged players are going to have to learn how to draw their adrenaline from somewhere when they normally have it from the crowd. I'm so curious to how they react for a home game next week.
-- The Cardinals decided, after a meeting by the players, to remain in the locker room for the national anthem. Defensive tackle Corey Peters said it was a group choice.
-- We had a Chris Streveler sighting, after the former CFL QB was made the surprise backup QB over Brett Hundley. On short yardage, he raced on the field, Murray went in motion as a "receiver," and Streveler plowed forward for the first-down carry. A hint at things to come.
-- Special teams truly changed the game. It's hard to imagine the Cards staying in it without that blocked punt by Ezekiel Turner. No way to know for sure – the Niners had their offensive issues – but it sure felt like that play made sure it didn't get away from the Cardinals.
-- That goal line stand was huge. Of course, if the Cards hadn't given up a 16-yard run on third-and-goal from the 17, it wouldn't have happened. Then again, the Niners would've kicked a field goal and that wouldn't have been good.
-- Chase Edmonds looks like he's going to be a bigger part of the offense. He made the TD catch, he had a couple of nice runs, and there were plenty of times when he was on the field with Kenyan Drake. That's smart. He can be a weapon.
It was a weird day. But a win is a win.