49ers comeback to win 37-34 shootout in the desert over Raiders

Jan 1, 2023, 6:18 PM
Jordan Mason #24 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates a touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders du...
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 01: Jordan Mason #24 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates a touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

In a game destined to be a cakewalk, the Raiders and 49ers delivered an incredible contest to ring in the new year. With both teams possessing the ball in overtime, San Francisco came out on top, 37-34, over their former Bay Area rivals.

From the opening series, the 49ers looked to have signed up for more than they bargained for.

Replacing veteran quarterback Derek Carr with Jarrett Stidham, the Las Vegas Raiders came out firing to start the game. Taking the ball down the field in six plays, Stidham finished the drive with a 24-yard play-action pass to tight end Darren Waller for the touchdown. Catching safety Talanoa Hufanga flat-footed, Waller sneaked behind him for his new QB to drop it in for an easy score.

San Francisco matched the home team right away, taking a eight-play, 67 yard drive to Las Vegas. The goal-to-go scenario was set up by running back Christian McCaffrey, breaking loose for a a big gain down to the Raiders’ one-yard-line. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and QB Brock Purdy connected from two yards to finish it off.

7-7 in the desert.

The Raiders came to play Sunday, bouncing right back with a 27-yard connection to WR Davante Adams. A few run plays later, they found themselves at the verge of another TD. Unable to get it on the first three downs, the 49ers forced a chip-shot field goal by Daniel Carlson, giving Vegas the lead, 10-7, after the first quarter.

The next series Purdy came to life.

Using the Raider’s shotty secondary to his advantage, the rookie drew two defensive pass interference to start the drive. A few plays later, Purdy capitalized on third & goal, finding Kittle in the back of the endzone on a wonderfully lofted pass.

14-10 with San Francisco back on top.

The next series the Raiders and Stidham forced SF up against the goal-line again. Driving down the field in nine plays, Las Vegas attempted to get the score with a run play by RB Josh Jacobs. Taking the handoff to his left, 49ers’ defensive lineman Arik Armstead moved tackle Kolton Miller aside, stonewalling Jacobs for the turnover on downs.

But thanks to offensive penalties and being backed up in their own territory, San Francisco was forced to punt after a three & out.

With a little more than two and a half minutes to go in the half, the Raiders marched down the field for a third time Sunday. This time they got all seven points, finding Adams once again in the back of the endzone for a miraculous grab over cornerback Charvarius Ward.

17-14, in favor of the Raiders at the intermission.

Trailing for the first time in the second half, Purdy and the offense struggled to get it going in the third quarter. After three unsuccessful plays, the Red & Gold were forced to punt it away.

The first series for the home side almost went the same way, if not for an egregious facemask by linebacker Fred Warner gave the Raiders a new set of downs. A few plays later, a lapse in coverage allowed Adams to sneak out the backdoor, catching a bullet from Stidham, racing to the endzone for the 60-yard score.

24-14, and the 49ers were in trouble.

Staying calm under pressure, Purdy and the 49ers went down the field in eight plays to make the game one-score again. After big plays by Aiyuk and WR Jauan Jennings, McCaffrey got loose again on the right side, scoring from 14 yards out to make the score 24-21 halfway through the third quarter.

On the next series, the 49ers’ previously-stout defense finally forced a three & out for the Raiders. With all the momentum to take the lead, Purdy finally had his rookie moment.

Getting chunk plays to Aiyuk and Jennings again, head coach Kyle Shanahan drew up PA post corner route for Kittle. Executing the play to perfection, Purdy fired the ball a hair too late, pushing it to Kittle’s right and allowing CB Amik Robertson to snag the interception.

On the next series however, the Red & Gold got some of their own redemption.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Stidham fired a ball to low over the lineman, hitting DL Kerry Hyder Jr. in the face. The ball shot up in the air, landing in the hands of rookie DE Drake Jackson for the turnover.

San Francisco was unable to capitalize fully though, settling for three points to even the score at 24-24 early in the fourth.

The Red & Gold defense then forced another stop on the Raiders, punting the ball away after only five plays. This time Purdy and Co. marched, finding WR Ray-Ray McCloud on a back side screen pass for 42 yards, weaving his way down to the Vegas’ 23-yard-line.

Still struggling for that final throw to the endzone, San Francisco settled for three once again, making the score 27-24. On the next possession, the Raiders got inside their opponents’ 40-yard-line, hitting the field goal to tie it up at 27 all with four minutes to go in regulation.

Facing his toughest test yet, Purdy finds Aiyuk for the 23-yard slant play to open the drive. The biggest play came next, tossing the rock to CMC for a 38-yard screen pass, running over and around Raiders to the 14-yard-line. Rookie RB Jordan Mason found pay dirt on the next play, scoring his first TD of his career.

34-27 49ers with 2:17 to go.

Somehow finding a way, Stidham launches a strike to Adams downfield, fighting off CB Demmodore Lenoir for a 45-yard miracle catch. Two plays later, RB Josh Jacobs found the endzone to tie it up at 34 all.

Faced with 1:11 on the clock, Purdy bounced back to deliver three straight strikes to Aiyuk. The wideout then bails his QB out when a pass gets lofted in the air after taking a hit, coming down with another first down. All that’s left is for kicker Robbie Gould to give his team the lead.

He misses it wide right, overtime.

The Raiders won the coin toss, electing to have the ball first.

After a one first down, Stidham and the offense went up-tempo, hoping to find Adams deep once more. This time DE Nick Bosa wouldn’t let it happen. Pushing Miller into his own QB, Stidham’s throw wobbled into the hands of S Tashaun Gipson Sr., returning it into the redzone.

Now fave with a redemption kick, Gould hit it from 23 yards. 37-34 49ers, ballgame.

McCaffrey was instrumental in the 49ers’ comeback, amassing 193 all-purpose yards in Week 17, the most since 2019 for him. He finished the day with 19 carries, 121 yards and one TD, while also catching six passes for 72 yards.

He was great. We needed it,” coach Shanahan said postgame about CMC. Christian has done some great things, helping us in the run and pass game, and feel very fortunate to have him.”

Purdy’s play was also pivotal down the stretch, making enough happen to put his team in a winning position. He finished with 284 yards passing, two TDs and one INT. In a game where he struggled, his ability to come up clutch when it mattered was eye-opening, bouncing back in a way that few rookies can do.

“He was great. Not only was he poised but he took the throne and made a couple calls in the huddle. He was definitive in how he ran things,” McCaffrey said about his QB Sunday.

The Iowa State alum is now the fifth rookie QB ever to win his first four NFL starts.

“What Brock is doing is real,” Kyle Shanahan added.

Meanwhile, his team advance to 12-4 on the season, taking the No.2 seed with the Minnesota Vikings loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 17.

Now heading back home for the regular season finale, San Francisco will look to make it 10-straight wins heading into the postseason. And with the Philadelphia Eagles reeling, a first-round bye is not out of the question just yet.


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