Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) in action against the Minnesota Vikings during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (hamstring) set to return vs. Chargers

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is slated to return for Sunday’s home game against the Los Angeles Chargers after missing two contests with a hamstring injury.

Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said Murray “looked sharp” during Friday’s practice.

The Cardinals considered about holding Murray out a third consecutive game with a bye coming up next week that would give him additional time to heal, but determined it wasn’t necessary.

“We had talked about it,” Kingsbury said. “But, obviously, he was anxious to get back and he feels great. I mean, he feels 100 percent. If there was anything less than that we would have maybe waited, but he feels full go, so we’re going to get him out there.”

Murray was injured during a loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 30 and aggravated the hamstring the following week during a loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Colt McCoy guided Arizona to a 27-17 victory on the road Nov. 13 against the Los Angeles Rams. The Cardinals dropped a 38-10 decision Monday night in Mexico City against the San Francisco 49ers.

Murray, 25, has thrown for 2,168 yards in nine games this season with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has 359 yards rushing with two TDs.

Kingsbury also said he expects receiver Marquise Brown (foot) to return against the Chargers. Brown, injured on hurt Oct. 16 against the Seahawks, has 43 catches for 485 yards and three touchdowns in six games.

The Chargers will be without wideout Mike Williams (ankle), who reinjured an ankle last weekend in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He previously missed two games due to the injury before returning against Kansas City.

Williams has 38 receptions for 510 yards and three touchdowns in eight games this season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) in action against the Minnesota Vikings during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers, Cardinals hope for better days ahead

Not quite the team they thought they would be by the time late November rolled around, the Los Angeles Chargers finally can see a favorable schedule ahead, and it might not be too late.

A promising run of games will begin Sunday on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, who are hopeful to have quarterback Kyler Murray back on the field, although they were not exactly playing well before his hamstring injury.

The Chargers no longer have health concerns regarding their quarterback after Justin Herbert worked his way through fractured rib cartilage earlier in the season. Also promising was the return last week of wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has missed seven games this year due to a hamstring ailment.

Impacted by a number of early injuries to key players, the Chargers continue to wait on the return of defensive end Joey Bosa from a groin injury.

Upcoming games against the Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders could give the Chargers the opportunity to get healthy in the standings. After those road contests, the Chargers play host to a pair of first-place teams, the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans.

The Chargers close out the season against the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos. The Dolphins and Titans are the only teams remaining on the Chargers’ schedule with more than four wins.

With Allen’s return, Herbert guided the Chargers to a late lead last Sunday only to see the Kansas City Chiefs score the winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining and take a 30-27 decision. That came one week after Los Angeles fell 22-16 to the host San Francisco 49ers.

“Our focus is going to be on Arizona,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “We played two really tough games in a row in primetime against two really quality teams, and they’ve been great games. I feel like our level (of play) has been high. I think we know exactly where we stand right now, in terms of the context of the NFL landscape.”

Herbert threw for 280 yards with two TDs and an interception against the Chiefs. Allen had five catches for 94 yards while Joshua Palmer made eight receptions for 106 yards and two scores. Austin Ekeler had 83 yards rushing to provide a boost for an anemic ground game that ranks third from the bottom in the NFL at 87.9 yards per contest.

“He’s doing everything that he can to be out there,” Herbert said about Allen. “He’s a competitor.”

Now comes a date with the Cardinals, whose defense rates among the bottom third of NFL teams at 245.4 yards passing allowed per game. On offense, Arizona is middle of the pack with 223 yards in the air per game.

The Cardinals had 247 yards passing in a 38-10 loss to the 49ers on Monday night at Mexico City, but Colt McCoy and Trace McSorley combined to throw two interceptions while taking three sacks.

Murray, who led the Cardinals to a 3-6 mark before his injury, was on track to start this week, according to coach Kliff Kingsbury. He was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.

“He looked good (Wednesday), so I’m feeling good about the chances,” Kingsbury said. “I think if we didn’t let him, we’d have a fistfight in my office at this point, so I feel like he’s definitely trending in the right direction.”

While Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz (knee) is expected to miss the remainder of the season, wide receivers Greg Dortch (thumb) and Rondale Moore (groin) were out of practice on Wednesday.

After making one catch last week, Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Cornerback Bryce Callahan (groin) also missed practice.

–Field Level Media

Cardinals offensive line coach Sean Kugler talks to reporters during a news conference on Feb. 13.

Cardinals

Cardinals fire OL coach Sean Kugler due to Mexico City incident

Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach Sean Kugler was dismissed by the organization due to an incident on Sunday night in Mexico City after the team’s arrival for Monday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury told The Arizona Republic that Kugler was sent back home to Arizona prior to Monday’s game.

“It’s challenging anytime you make a staff change in that type of manner and I’m just going to leave it at that,” Kingsbury told The Arizona Republic.

Details of the incident have yet to surface.

Kugler also was the team’s running game coordinator.

Kugler was hired by Kingsbury as part of his original staff in 2019.

Kingsbury said assistant offensive line coach Brian Natkin and tight ends coach Steve Heiden will share Kugler’s duties. Offensive assistant Mike Bercovici will temporarily serve as tight ends coach.

Kugler served as head coach of UTEP from 2013-17 and went 18-36. He resigned after an 0-5 start in 2017.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2022; Mexico City, MEX; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates after his touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Estadio Azteca. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo throws 4 TDs as 49ers fly by Cardinals

Jimmy Garoppolo tied a career high with four touchdown passes as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 38-10 Monday night in Mexico City.

The 49ers (6-4) won their third consecutive game to move into a tie with idle Seattle for first place in the NFC West.

Garoppolo completed 20 of 29 passes for 228 yards and threw two TD passes apiece to Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle.

San Francisco’s other touchdown came on a 39-yard run by wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

The Cardinals (4-7) played without starting quarterback Kyler Murray for the second straight game because of a hamstring injury.

Veteran Colt McCoy, who guided Arizona to a victory against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams last week, had no such luck at Estadio Azteca. McCoy was 24-of-34 passing for 218 yards with one interception.

The Cardinals held a 3-0 lead after one quarter on a 40-yard field goal by Matt Prater before the 49ers got acclimated to the elevation change and the slippery turf from a downpour that began just before the opening kickoff.

San Francisco outscored the Cardinals 31-7 over the next two quarters to pull away.

Garoppolo threw TD passes of 7 yards to Aiyuk and 39 yards to Kittle before Arizona scored its lone touchdown on a 2-yard run by James Conner.

The 49ers’ Robbie Gould converted a 39-yard field goal with 43 seconds left in the half to make it 17-10.

Samuel scored on an end-around on San Francisco’s opening drive of the second half, then Garoppolo threw two more scoring strikes, hitting Aiyuk from 13 yards and Kittle from 32, the latter early in the fourth quarter.

Elijah Mitchell led the 49ers with 59 yards rushing on nine attempts. Christian McCaffrey added 39 yards on seven carries and made seven receptions for 67 yards, matching Samuel for the team lead in receptions.

Conner carried 14 times for 42 yards for the Cardinals. DeAndre Hopkins and Greg Dortch each had nine catches, racking up 91 and 103 yards, respectively.

It was a rematch of a 2005 contest at the same stadium that was the NFL’s first regular-season game played outside the United States.

–Field Level Media

November 13, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) is tackled by Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack (52) during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers-Cardinals in Mexico: Preview, Prop Picks, Prediction

The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals will meet in Mexico City on Monday night, 17 years after the NFC West rivals clashed in the first regular-season NFL game played outside of the United States.

Nearly 90,000 fans are expected at Estadio Azteca, with the 49ers a consensus 10-point favorite.

San Francisco (5-4) is seeking a third consecutive win that would vault the team into a first-place tie in the division with Seattle. Arizona (4-6) is trying to build on a victory over the Los Angeles Rams last week with the Cardinals scraping to stay in the playoff picture.

Colt McCoy is expected to start at quarterback for Arizona again in place of Kyler Murray, who missed the Rams game due to a hamstring injury.

PROP PICKS

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey Anytime TD Scorer (-140 at BetMGM): This is the second most popular prop at the sportsbook, right behind McCaffrey at +450 to score the first touchdown of the game. He has a pair of rushing touchdowns to go with a receiving score and another passing in the past two games since getting fully integrated into the offense.

Cardinals RB James Conner Over 50.5 Rushing Yards (-120 at DraftKings): The 49ers have the No. 2 run defense in the league, allowing an average of just 82.7 yards per game on the ground. It won’t be an easy task but as long as the Cardinals can keep the game within reach, they will need to stay balanced offensively with McCoy at the helm. Following the surprising release of Eno Benjamin, Conner is the unquestioned bell cow in Arizona’s backfield.

49ers TE George Kittle Over 3.5 Receptions (-140 at BetMGM): This is the third most popular prop at the sportsbook. After a slow start to the season following a groin injury, Kittle appears to be back to 100 percent. He had just one catch on two targets in the win over the Chargers before the bye but averaged 5.5 receptions on 7.5 targets over the previous four games. There is some concern over how the 49ers will spread the ball to all of their healthy offensive weapons, but the Cardinals are allowing 247.1 yards per game through the air.

INJURY REPORT

49ers: DT Arik Armstead (foot, ankle) is out, while DE Samson Ebukam (quadricep, Achilles) is questionable.

Cardinals: Murray (groin) is expected to miss his second consecutive game, although McCoy (knee) wasn’t listed on the final injury report. WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) is listed as questionable but is expected to play. G Max Garcia (shoulder) is also questionable, while offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (back), TE Zach Ertz (knee) and CB Byron Murphy (back) are out.

PREDICTION

The injury focus for Arizona has been on the quarterback position but the left side of the offensive line is beat up and McCoy won’t have Ertz at his disposal. Ten points is a big spread but this game could also get out of hand come the second half and San Francisco’s defense is the top-ranked unit in the league. –49ers 30, Cardinals 16

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks to quarterback Colt McCoy (12) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Backup QB Colt McCoy to start Monday for Cardinals

Colt McCoy will start at quarterback on Monday night when the Arizona Cardinals meet the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City, NFL Network reported.

Starter Kyler Murray took limited reps in practice this week because of a hamstring injury. McCoy also was limited by a knee injury on Thursday but had no designation on the final injury report.

Murray was designated as questionable and apparently will miss his second straight game.

Last week, McCoy led the Cardinals to a 27-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams. The 36-year-old, in his 12th season, completed 26 of 37 pass attempts for 238 yards and a touchdown.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was listed as questionable on the injury report, will play, multiple outlets reported Monday.

Hopkins missed the first six games of the season, suspended for testing positive for a banned substance. In four games, he has 36 catches for 396 yards and two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) on the field before a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals, 49ers detour to Mexico in pursuit of Seahawks

Seventeen years ago, the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals traveled to Mexico City for the NFL’s first regular-season game played outside the United States.

The NFC West rivals are south of the border again Monday night with nearly 90,000 fans expected at Estadio Azteca.

Telemundo broadcast analyst Rolando Cantu, who was an offensive lineman on the Cardinals’ practice squad in 2005, compared it to a playoff atmosphere.

“That day, the fans were different. They were hungry to be a part of something unique,” Cantu said. “And the unique part about it was, this was a regular-season game. This game was going to count. It wasn’t an American Bowl. It wasn’t an exhibition game. This game was going to be remembered in the history books. If you got a ticket to go to Estadio Azteca, you were a part of history.”

The 49ers (5-4) have won two in a row and move into a first-place tie with idle Seattle atop the division with a victory.

The Cardinals (4-6) defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams 27-17 last weekend, a step closer to nudging their way back into the playoff picture.

The Cardinals are unsure who will start at quarterback. Kyler Murray missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and backup Colt McCoy, who went 26 of 37 for 238 yards and a touchdown, tweaked his knee late in the victory. Both quarterbacks were limited participants in practice this week.

“I’m hoping at least one of them, yeah,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said when asked if either Murray or McCoy would be available Monday. “I think we should be able to get to that point hopefully by later in the week.”

Murray said he originally felt a tweak in Week 8 against Minnesota but played through it against Seattle the following week.

“I feel good,” Murray said. “I don’t know percentage or anything like that, but I feel a lot better. The way I play, I’ve got to be able to do what I do. I’ve played through those things, but there’s a fine line between making it worse and not making it worse. We’re on the right track.”

The Cardinals will be without tight end Zach Ertz, who suffered a knee injury against the Rams and is facing season-ending surgery. In addition, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring), offensive lineman D.J. Humphries (back), cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (back) and safety Budda Baker (ankle) have also missed practice.

The 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 22-16 last week in primetime, getting short touchdown runs by Christian McCaffrey and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and three field goals from Robbie Gould to score the Sunday night win.

The 49ers’ offense is ranked ninth in the league but they’re just 18th in scoring with 22 points per game.

They scored two touchdowns on five trips inside the red zone against the Chargers. Their TD conversion rate of 57.8% inside the opponents’ 20-yard line is well below their league-leading rate of 66.7% from last season

“I do think there are a lot of things clicking,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “But you’re not going to get points if you move it and can’t score inside the 10. You’re not going to get enough points, that’s for sure.”

The 49ers practiced this week at Air Force Academy outside Colorado Springs, Colo., to get acclimated to the high altitude in Mexico City.

While relatively healthy offensively, the 49ers have practiced without defensive linemen Arik Armstead (foot/ankle), Samson Ebukam (quadricep/Achilles) and Javon Kinlaw (knee).

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown (2) celebrates a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals WR Marquise Brown (foot) returns to practice

The Arizona Cardinals designated wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown for return from injured reserve Wednesday, opening his 21-day practice window.

Brown sustained a small non-surgical fracture in his foot on the final play of the game Oct. 16 against Seattle. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday that there’s a “chance” Brown will be activated to play Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

As for which quarterback could potentially throw to Brown on Monday, Kingsbury said he hopes to have one of them — starter Kyler Murray or backup Colt McCoy — ready to go. The coach said both QBs remain day-to-day.

Murray missed last Sunday with a hamstring injury. McCoy earned the start, but he, too, left the game with a leg injury. Trace McSorley came on to close out the 27-17 win for the Cardinals.

“He’s progressed well,” Kingsbury said Wednesday regarding Murray. “He’s still getting treatment on it. We want him to be 100 percent when he’s out there, particularly against this defensive line. So I won’t have a feel for that until later in the week.”

Brown, 25, has 43 catches for 485 yards and three touchdowns in six games (all starts).

The Cardinals acquired Robbie Anderson from Carolina to bolster the team’s wide receiver corps in Brown’s absence. Anderson, however, has one catch for minus-4 yards in four games (one start) for the Cardinals.

Kingsbury also confirmed reports from earlier in the week that tight end Zach Ertz will miss the rest of the season. Ertz was carted off during last week’s win over the Los Angeles Rams after sustaining a leg injury.

The Cardinals on Wednesday also signed offensive lineman Julien Davenport and tight end Chris Pierce Jr. to their practice squad.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks to quarterback Colt McCoy (12) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Kyler Murray remains day-to-day; Zach Ertz done for season

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that starting quarterback Kyler Murray remains day-to-day with the hamstring injury that parked him in Week 10.

Murray missed Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Rams after testing out his hamstring in pregame warmups.

Colt McCoy earned the start, but he, too, left the game with a leg injury. Trace McSorley came on to close out the 27-17 win for the Cardinals.

The updates come the same day the team reportedly released backup running back Eno Benjamin and amid a report that starting tight end Zach Ertz (leg) is out for the rest of the season.

Kingsbury said the team wants Murray to be able to go full bore on the field before bringing him back. However, McCoy’s leg was “a little better” Monday, making him a question mark heading into this week’s prime time contest against division rival San Francisco this week.

McCoy threw for 238 yards and a touchdown against the Rams without a turnover.

Murray, 25, has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,168 yards, with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He’s also rushed for 359 yards and two scores.

Benjamin, 23, started three games earlier this season when James Conner was injured. However, he played just one offensive snap against the Rams.

“it was time to give him (James Conner) the starting running back reps,” Kingsbury said Monday.

Benjamin rushed for 299 yards and two TDs in 10 games this season. Benjamin was a seventh-round draft pick by the Cards in the 2020 draft.

Kingsbury didn’t provide an update on tight end Zach Ertz, who was carted off Sunday after sustaining the leg injury. However, NFL Network reported Ertz is done for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Ertz finishes with 47 catches for 406 yards and four TDs in 10 games.

The Cardinals (4-6) host the 49ers (5-4) on “Monday Night Football” in Week 11.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA;  Arizona Cardinals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) catches the ball in front of Los Angeles Rams cornerback David Long Jr. (22) for a touchdown in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals top Rams in battle of backup QBs

In a battle of backup quarterbacks, the visiting Arizona Cardinals dropped the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams into last place in the NFC West with a 27-17 victory Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.

For the Rams (3-6), starting quarterback Matthew Stafford did not play because of a concussion, and counterpart Kyler Murray was out with a hamstring injury for the Cardinals (4-6).

Colt McCoy, who was 2-1 as a starter last season when Murray was sidelined by a high ankle sprain, completed 26 of 37 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, with wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins catching 10 passes for 98 yards and Rondale Moore making nine receptions for 94 yards.

Rams quarterback John Wolford was 24 of 36 for 212 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp had only three receptions for minus-1 yard and suffered an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter.

Arizona had no turnovers in the game, while the Rams had two that led to 10 points.

The Cardinals took a 17-3 lead into halftime after two late second-quarter touchdowns.

The teams traded field goals on the first two possessions of the game, with Matt Gay hitting from 36 yards for the Rams and Tristan Vizcaino also connecting from 36 for Arizona.

The Rams then had three consecutive three-and-outs and the Cardinals two. But after the Rams’ third, the Cardinals took a 10-3 lead with 1:56 to play in the half on a 4-yard run by James Conner. Hopkins had four receptions on the drive, and McCoy ran for 2 yards on fourth-and-1 to set up the Conner score.

Four plays later, linebacker Myjai Sanders hit Wolford as he was passing, and defensive end J.J. Watt recovered quickly at the 30-yard line. The play originally was whistled dead as an incomplete pass, but a replay review reversed the play.

Five plays later, wide receiver A.J. Green scored on a 6-yard pass from McCoy with 24 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Rams cut the lead to 17-10 in the third quarter, but the Cardinals answered when Moore had a 14-yard reception on third-and-17 and a catch on fourth-and-3. Moore made a spectacular catch on a 26-yard play to the 15-yard line. Conner scored again on a 9-yard run.

After Vizcaino made a 46-yard field goal, the Rams scored the final points on a 3-yard pass from Wolford to wide receiver Van Jefferson with seven seconds remaining.

Arizona tight end Zach Ertz left the game with a knee injury in the first quarter. He went to the sideline and was taken by a cart to the locker room as the quarter was coming to a close.

–Field Level Media