Joshua Dobbs' legs give Cardinals' offense a different dynamic

Cardinals QB Joshua Dobbs rushed 12 times for 48 yards in Sunday's loss to the 49ers. Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- When Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs took the snap with 4:59 left in the third quarter, he dropped back a few steps and then took off.

He ran toward the right side of the offensive line, then planted and cut further right. Dobbs stutter-stepped before cutting upfield, juking his way to a 6-yard gain that ended inside the 10-yard-line.

A play later Dobbs hit rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson for an 8-yard touchdown to cut the San Francisco 49ers lead to five.

In a matter of two plays that took less than a minute, Dobbs showcased the type of quarterback he is -- one who can impact a game with his arm and legs.

It has taken him just seven years to get the opportunity to put that on display.

On Sunday, even though the 49ers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Arizona, 35-16, Dobbs changed the dynamics of the Cardinals’ offense. He ran 12 times for 48 yards on a mix of designed runs and scrambles, including four on that third-quarter drive that pulled the Cardinals within one score.

The 49ers couldn’t just pin their ears back and rush the pocket. They also couldn’t just stack the box and dare the Cardinals to throw. They had to respect both.

“It gives us a different dynamic with how we can move the ball,” wide receiver Zach Pascal said. “When you touch the ball every down as a quarterback and you can throw it and make plays on your feet, it just brings a different dynamic, brings more of a threat to the defense that they actually got to cover you too.”

If this seems familiar for the Cardinals, that’s because it is. Injured Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray does the same thing when he’s healthy. And Arizona saw over the last four years how effective Murray was at creating plays with his feet but also changing how a defense defends, left tackle D.J. Humphries said.

While Murray rehabs his right knee after ACL surgery in January, Dobbs will continue to run the Cardinals’ offense as he knows how -- which includes rushing himself. It’s part of the fabric of Dobbs’ game, and Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing is taking advantage of it. Dobbs had a 23-yard rushing touchdown in Week 2 in a loss to the New York Giants and a 44-yard run – the longest by a quarterback this season – last week in a win over the Dallas Cowboys.

He has the second-most rushing yards and fourth-most rushes among quarterbacks this season. His 47 rushing yards after first contact are second in the league,and his 11 rushing first downs are third in the NFL.

After Sunday’s game, coach Jonathan Gannon said Dobbs’ ability to make plays on the ground Sunday was “huge” for Arizona.

“You saw it, I mean, a couple times out of the pocket he extended a few plays, I know on the one fourth down he ran for it -- bang, bang, got it,” Gannon said. “Those are huge plays in the ball game, so he is doing a good job.”

On Sunday, Dobbs’ running kept San Francisco on its toes.

“They're a simple defense, but they have really good players and they execute at a high level,” Dobbs said. “So, coming into the game, we had to execute at a higher level, which we didn't do, obviously, given the result of the game, but being able to use different aspects of my game to add to the offense, I do think it helps keep the defense on their heels, sprinkle it in, and so we'll continue to work that in throughout our offense.”

Dobbs, whose four starts are the most of his career in a single season, has led a Cardinals offense that’s becoming tougher to prepare for by the week.

He also has gotten the chance to show what has been hidden for the last six years on the bench.

“Obviously, I wanna win when I step on the field, but to go out and play my game, I enjoy it,” Dobbs said