3 major positives in Arizona Cardinals Week 15 loss to the 49ers

The Arizona Cardinals didn’t beat the San Francisco 49ers, but it doesn’t mean every takeaway from this Week 15 matchup has to be a negative.

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals / Norm Hall/GettyImages
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The Arizona Cardinals 45-29 loss in Week 15 wasn’t as close as the technical two-possession final score indicated since the San Francisco 49ers went into prevent for half the fourth quarter. But, no one also expected “Big Red” to do much of anything in this contest since the Niners had beaten the NFC’s other two best teams by a combined score of 84-29. 

But if we will remember the 2023 Cardinals for anything, it’s that this team has shown way more fight than many thought they would through most of the season. Therefore, the Cards deserve some recognition with a few positives that emerged from this one despite the final tally. 

They may have some talent at tight end besides Trey McBride, and their special teams units already look good for 2024. Finally, the Cards may have solidified an identity on offense, and that’s always a good thing during the latter stages of a rebuilding season. 

Deommodore Lenoir, Trey McBride
San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

3 takeaways in Arizona Cardinals loss to San Francisco

1 - Tight ends are the undisputed top pass-catchers in this offense

Wow, did Kyler Murray have a bad game trying to build chemistry with his receivers, or what? Or maybe it was the other way around? Even before garbage time, Murray was having more luck looking for his tight ends and even his running backs than he was in finding his receivers. Overall, he finished 15 for 16 for 172 yards and a touchdown when targeting his tight ends. 

Trey McBride led the way with 10 catches on 11 targets for 102 yards. He briefly left the game with an injury, but returned and looked as good as ever. It’s clear that McBride has become a young star in this league, and he now has 66 catches on 85 targets for 712 receiving yards, putting him on pace for 80 catches and 915 yards. 

Meanwhile, Murray finished the game just 4 for 13 and 20 yards when targeting his receivers, confirming that for the foreseeable future, the Cardinals tight ends, especially Trey McBride, rule the offense’s passing game.