Late in Sunday's game, with the Cardinals set to lose and the score sideways enough that the Cardinals took Kyler Murray out of the game in favor of backup Brett Hundley, the rookie quarterback stood on the sideline watching the minutes tick away while having a long conversation with Patrick Peterson.
Murray wasn't opening up on the back-and-forth – "Can't really tell you much," Murray said. "We were just talking" – and it's always possible the discussion was about what restaurant to head to when the Cardinals landed in Phoenix later that night.
But with Murray having his ups and downs Sunday, and with the Cardinals about to play arguably an even better defense Thursday night when the 49ers visit State Farm Stadium on Halloween, maybe there was some veteran wisdom being imparted.
There were going to be rough patches, for this rookie QB and for this team, and Sunday qualified. But all 31-9 losses aren't created equal, and you can't argue this one was cut from the same cloth of a loss of a similar score from a year ago. This got ugly late, and it's tough to feel like, had the Cards been able to convert those inches on those back-to-back third-quarter plays, like it wouldn't have come out a little better.
-- The running back position is in a world of hurt. Might the Cardinals be playing Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris Thursday night, guys who barely know the playbook, against the excellent San Francisco defense? Very possible. Chase Edmonds was trying to be optimistic about his hamstring, but it's a hamstring. With three days to get better.
-- The Cardinals need some semblance of a running game, however. However that happens, whether it's Zenner or Morris or 10 Andy Isabella jet sweeps.
-- The Cards, as I had noted Friday, had been 5-for-5 on fourth downs coming into the game. I'm surprised someone hasn't lit me up as a jinx yet. (They were 0-for-2 Sunday, including a late try when the game was all but out of reach.)
-- What's funny is that Kliff Kingsbury did a nice job getting the Saints to burn a timeout in the first half when he had the Cards line up to "go for it" on fourth-and-9 at the 14. The Saints were in disarray on defense when they were caught off-guard. The Cards then kicked the field goal after the timeout.
-- Larry Fitzgerald said he wasn't sure if he could've kept his feet inbounds on his near-TD catch in the first half. You certainly have seen him make similar plays. I'll be interested to hear his post-video analysis when he gets a chance to see it.
-- Drew Brees was surgical. When the Cardinals blitzed and played man-to-man, Brees knew immediately where he needed to go on a hot read. When they played zone, he waited until his receiver found space. When he had mismatches, he nailed them. When the Cardinals dropped off, he hit screens and swing passes for lots of YAC. The Cardinals have to play better defense, yes, but they also faced one of the best QBs of all-time, and he played like it. To think, I had a local Uber driver Saturday night basically say Brees was at the end of his career, and the Saints should keep Teddy Bridgewater in the lineup.
-- Peterson with his first pick of the season. It was an athletic play.
-- The Cardinals had to be happy to have Christian Kirk back. He played well and you can see that Kyler likes to look his direction.
-- Speaking of Kirk, if Murray had been able to complete that broken play deep pass to Kirk early in the second half, it just feels like that would've been a game-changer – as much as the failed third/fourth down sequence. Kirk was wide open, thanks to Kyler's spin move to elude a sack. It was the Murray magic he will be known for. He's just got to get the ball there. To be fair, a defender was bearing down on him. But it was a missed opportunity.
-- I didn't get a chance to see a replay, but to have a pass interference flag on the Saints picked up after the officials discussed the play – forcing a field goal instead of a first-and-goal inside the 10 – certainly changed some things. It was 17-6 at the time.
-- Some players were already talking about watching 49ers video on this plane ride home. The work comes quickly on a short week.
Time to go home.