Kyler Murray to Cardinals at No. 1? Coach, GM (sort of) back Josh Rosen


INDIANAPOLIS -- Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury understands why his comments on Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray went viral.

“Yeah, I can see why it did and how the circumstances played out,” Kingsbury said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “It was before a college game, and obviously, you think the world of Kyler as a player and as a person. But the timing of it is pretty unique.”

Back in October, Kingsbury said he'd draft the eventual Heisman Trophy winner No. 1 overall. The 49ers, of course, own the No. 2 pick in the draft, so are directly affected by whatever move the Cardinals make at No. 1.

Kingsbury was the head coach at Texas Tech then, and his comments recently were thrust back into the spotlight after the Cardinals hired him.

“Kyler is a freak, man,” Kingsbury said at the time. “I’ve heard he is a really good young player, and he’s going to be a tremendous player. Kyler is a freak. I’ve followed him since he was a sophomore in high school and just think the world of him and what he can do on the football field.

“I’d take him with the first pick of the draft if I could. I know he’s signed up to play baseball, but he is a dominant football player, and I would take him with the first pick.”

Things got even more convoluted after Murray hired Kingsbury's agent once he chose a pro football career over one in baseball with the Oakland A's. Picking Murray would have a clear impact on the 49ers' selection at No. 2 overall, and could allow the player atop their draft board to slip.

Arizona drafted quarterback Josh Rosen in the first round of last year's draft, and Kingsbury reiterated he believes Rosen will fit his offense.

“We’re big on adapting our offense to our quarterback and our personnel, Kingsbury said. “We’ve had all types in this system, so I don’t think that is very relevant. He’s a tremendous talent. I feel like he got better as the season went on last year. Showed a lot of mental toughness and competitiveness."

But his boss, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, didn't exactly shut the door on the team drafting Murray. 

Keim was asked directly Wednesday if the Cardinals would pursue Murray or stick with Rosen. Keim contextualized Kingsbury's comments, noting that Texas Tech and Oklahoma were Big 12 rivals.

“I think what Kliff said,” Keim explained, “was trying to avoid bulletin-board material. If you were at Texas Tech, I would've said the same thing about an Oklahoma quarterback. Again, it's still early in the process. We still haven't gone through a full evaluation, so it's too early to say.”

[RELATED: Shanahan says 49ers haven't yet reached out on Brown trade]

When Keim was asked more directly about the Cardinals' quarterback situation, his answer was open-ended.

“Is Josh Rosen our quarterback? Yeah. He is right now, for sure.”

Could the Cardinals really draft Murray? Anything is possible, and Keim’s comments didn’t entirely close the door.

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