McCaffrey makes history, Purdy delivers as 49ers dominate Cardinals to go 4-0

Oct 1, 2023, 6:40 PM | Updated: 6:43 pm

Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals...

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A game that was pre-written as a rout, ended that way, with the 49ers sealing the contest late to win by 19 points.

The San Francisco 49ers took care of business Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals, dominating the day to win 35-16. The Red & Gold are now 4-0 to start the 2023 season, the first time since 2019. Additionally, SF has scored 30 or more points in all four contests, making a claim for the top spot in all the land.

Week 4 wasn’t perfect though, having to rally late to seal the win.

The 49ers had everything clicking from the opening snap, with their defense leading way early. After giving up a six-yard gain to start, San Francisco turned it around, forcing a three & out for the Cardinals to start the contest.

Then the offense and Christian McCaffrey took over.

The 49ers’ running back started hot, breaking off multiple runs to get the team moving in hurry. Then, quarterback Brock Purdy hit wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk over the middle for a 16-yard gain. That put SF in plus territory fast. Purdy found McCaffrey on the next play, hitting him on the run for a 12-yard reception. The QB went back to him again, this time getting 10 yards and facemask call on the defense.

The next play, Christian McCaffrey walked in for six to give the home team the early lead, 7-0.

That CMC score made the record books as the ballcarrier became the first 49er to score a touchdown in 13 straight games, breaking the record held by Jerry Rice (12). McCaffrey also broke 49ers great Garrison Hearst’s record last week, rushing for the most yards through the first three weeks of a season (353).

That was only the beginning for his day however, carrying the 49ers throughout.

After a little less than five minutes of game time, the Red & Gold defense came up with another stop thanks to linebacker Dre Greenlaw. That forced the visitors to put it back to McCaffrey & Co.

After a few nice throws from Purdy, CMC got back in the fold to start the second quarter, converting a 12-yard catch for 12 yards to get the first down.

Now in the redzone, McCaffrey got the ball again, taking a screen pass/run to the house. Hurdling over cornerback Kei’Trel Clark in the process, the RB weaved through traffic to the endzone.

A superstar play puts the 49ers up, 14-0, early in the second quarter. And the MVP chants followed thereafter.

Arizona weren’t out of the game though, making a few plays to move the ball downfield. Going on a 13-play drive,  they were eventually stopped due to good pressure from the defensive line, forcing a throwaway by QB Joshua Dobbs.

Settling for three points, the Cardinals were on the board at 14-3.

San Francisco responded quickly though, going on a five-play drive the next series. But this time it was Purdy and Aiyuk doing most of the heavy lifting.

The duo were in-sync all day, opening the drive with an 11-yard strike for a first down. Next, Purdy went to the wideout deep downfield, hitting him on a post route against two defenders. Having to adjust to make the catch, Aiyuk secured it, putting the 49ers in opposing territory.

A few plays later, they found themselves inside the 10-yard-line again. And once again it was CMC to save the day. Running a Texas route, Purdy hit McCaffrey for the six-yard score to make the lead, 21-3, midway through the second quarter.

The Cardinals weren’t giving up though, going on another 13-play drive to close out the half. Dicing their way down the field, the drive culminated with a 16-yard TD throw to rookie WR Michael Wilson. A series taking nearly five minutes, AZ was back in business at 21-10 going into the break.

The visitors found more success in the second half, forcing the 49ers to punt after going 40 yards downfield.

Despite being backed up to the goal-line, Dobbs & Co. mustered up a very strong drive, taking almost six and a half minutes off the clock. The drive was sprung open after the QB hit WR Marquise Brown on a 41-yard pass on. play-action. Then, AZ used their legs to get inside the 10-yard-line, putting the 49ers on their heels.

A play later, Dobbs connected with Wilson again for six, making the score, 21-16.

Coach Jonathan Gannon felt bullish though, wanted to go for two points. That didn’t end well for the visitors, stuffed by safety Talanoa Hufanga to keep it a five-point game.

The 49ers’ offense came back to life after that, going 75 yards in eight plays. That started with a deep shot to Aiyuk for 34 yards, reeking havoc for the Cardinals’ secondary. Then, McCaffrey got involved again, taking runs and short passes for big gains.

Still, the 49ers faced a crucial third down inside the redzone. But once again, CMC came to the rescue, converting a seven-yard pass to go first and goal.

A few plays later, McCaffrey brings it home to put the 49ers back up by two scores, 28-16. The ballcarrier’s fourth (and final) score of the day, the most in his NFL career for a single game.

San Francisco’s defense followed suit, but not until Arizona reached midfield again. Then, the 49ers forced Dobbs into an errant throw, with linebacker Fred Warner dropping the interception. Now facing third down, SF’s DL got into the backfield as defensive tackle Javon Hargrave got home for the crucial sack.

Backed out of of field-goal range, the Cardinals were forced to punt midway in the fourth quarter.

Now in command with the football, the 49ers soaked the clock, going on a long drive that ended up with another touchdown. Brock Purdy was the scorer this time, taking a QB sneak to ice the contest once and for all.

35-16 is the final score for Week 4, with the Cardinals giving the 49ers all they could handle in the second half. In the end though, it’s a big win for the NFC West leaders, now 4-0 for the first time since 2019.

Leading the way was Christian McCaffrey, finishing the game with 177 scrimmage yards and four total TDs. A historic day for the Stanford alum, and is team could feel it from the get-go.

“It was amazing. I was literally right there. I couldn’t believe it that he stayed on his feet, got in the end zone. I was like, man, you’re a bad boy. I had to tell him,” left tackle Trent Williams said about CMC’s second TD score.

“Yeah, he’s a freak,” Purdy added about his running back

The QB was also on the money Sunday, going 20 for 21 passing. A 95% clip is the highest number since Joe Montana did it in 1987. He also had two total TDs and a 134.6 QB rating.

“He was great, he was almost perfect…hung in there, made some big throws,” coach Kyle Shanahan said about his signal-caller postgame.

Brandon Aiyuk was also spectacular in his Week 4 return, missing last week due to a shoulder injury. He finished Sunday with six targets, six catches for 148 yards receiving.

San Francisco will now look to Sunday Night Football in Week 5, hosting the Dallas Cowboys in primetime. One of the NFL’s biggest rivalries, the 49ers are fired up to make another claim to the throne in the NFC.

Themselves and the Philadelphia Eagles are the lone franchises to be undefeated in the NFL. Next Sunday’s clash will be a strong test for Purdy and the 49ers’ offense.

Click here for more NFL coverage from Sactown Sports.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Sunday, October 8th vs. Dallas Cowboys – 5:20 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 15th @ Cleveland Browns – 10:00 AM PST
  • M0nday, October 23rd – @ Minnesota Vikings – 5:15 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 29th – vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:25 PM PST

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