SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Purdy shines in homecoming, 49ers thump Cardinals to win NFC West

Dec 17, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:00 pm

Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass during the fourth quarter of a game agains...

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 49ers trip to Arizona went off without a hitch, as Brock Purdy shined under the bright desert sun of his hometown. Throwing four touchdowns on the day, the Arizona native is now firmly in the drive seat for MVP of the NFL.

The San Francisco 49ers extended their winning streak to six straight Week 15, dominating the Cardinals, (). The home side stayed with the visitors for the first half, but the second half showing by the Red & Gold showed why the 49ers are the best team in the NFC.

And quarterback Brock Purdy was a big reason why.

Here’s what went down in the desert.

The 49ers Week 15 win got off to a less than optimal start, allowing the Cardinals to waltz downfield for six points.

QB Kyler Murray had it going early, hitting tight end Trey McBride for a two catches totaling 49 yards. Then, Murray scrambled for another first down to put Arizona in first and goal. Two plays later, running back James Conner cashed in the score.

7-0 to the home team.

San Francisco’s offense responded with a TD drive to their own to open the game. Purdy was the catalyst for that, hitting wideouts Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk early. Running back Christian McCaffrey also contributed, picking up first down rushes before breaking loose for 26 yards.

Now inside the redzone, coach Kyle Shanahan drew up a misdirection play-action pass, fooling the defense. Purdy scanned and found Deebo Samuel wide open down the left flank, lobbing it to him for the score.

7-7 was the score in a matter of minutes.

Then, San Francisco’s defense woke up momentarily.

After picking up 26 yards, Murray and AZ found themselves facing a fourth down and short. Relying to heavily on McBride in the passing game, Murray didn’t see Charvarius Ward sneaking up behind his target. The cornerback read the play and snatched the ball away, taking it to the end zone for a house call.

A 66-yard pick six for Ward, putting the 49ers up, 14-7.

The Cardinals didn’t roll over though, working their way downfield for a few first downs. RB Michael Carter was instrumental there, rushing for 27 yards on the drive.

Eventually, they were halted near midfield after Murray took a sack on first down. Unable to pick up the chains, kicker Matt Prater came on to make it 14-10 at the start of the second quarter.

The 49ers’ offense stalled out for a second after that, going on their lone three-and-out possession. Meanwhile, the Cardinals kept chipping away, using all four downs to pick up yardage. Eventually, they were halted once more, forced to have Prater come on to make the score, 14-13, midway through the second quarter.

Purdy and the 49ers woke up once more, going on a 10-play drive to paydirt. That didn’t come before a near catastrophic injury to the gunslinger though.

Working to pick up a third and five, the Arizona native moved up the pocket before finding fullback Kyle Juszczyk leaking out. The play resulted in a first down, but Purdy took hit to the hemet from linebacker Dennis Gardeck. Purdy was shaken up from the play, walking to the blue medical tent under his own power at the 4:05 mark of the second quarter. Sam Darnold came in for the time being.

That didn’t last long however, with Purdy returning to the game after only three snaps. He was diagnosed with a left-shoulder stinger.

The young QB went on to make magic, picking up a third down using the Samuel screen play. Then, Purdy converted another third down, this time with TE George Kittle. The gunslinger saw Kittle branch off of his defender and float it to him, resulting in a 19-yard catch and run.

A few plays later, Purdy found McCaffrey on the Texas route to make it another TD.

21-13, in favor of the 49ers at the break.

San Francisco got the ball to start the second half and took advantage. And it only took four plays to do it.

Facing a third and long, Purdy surveyed the field before finding Kittle open across the middle. The big pass-catcher barreled his way past the defense, picking up 35 yards in the process. Then, Purdy made more magic, spinning away from pass rushers to throw a beautiful pass to McCaffrey downfield. The backpedaling CMC leaped up and caught it, getting back up to his feet to walk into the endzone.

A 41-yard bomb that put the 49ers up two scores, 28-13.

Arizona wasn’t going away though, forcing the 49ers into another three and out on their next series. They then used the ground game to churn up yards, with Conner breaking loose for a 43-yard pickup to put them inside the redzone. But thanks to the Cardinals’ sloppy play, the 49ers defense held strong, forcing another FG try from Prater.

28-16, late in the third quarter.

Purdy didn’t slow down after that, hitting Aiyuk for a 22-yard catch and run to take back the momentum. Then, McCaffrey got to work, picking up gains of 18 and 11 yards to get a first and goal. A few plays later, he finished off the drive with a one-yard carry for six. 35-16 was the score at the end of the third quarter.

With the rushing TD, McCaffrey became the first non-QB 49er to have 20 scores in one season since Jerry Rice in 1987. Additionally, he joined Marshall Faulk as the only player to have 15 career games with a rushing and receiving TD. He finished Week 15 with 187 scrimmage yards and three scores.

All credit to the home side, they dint give in despite the scoreboard. Partially because of the 49ers’ tackling woes Sunday.

LB Fred Warner missed a few tackles in AZ, including two in a row that allowed another rushing score. After allowing a fourth and short, RB Emari Demercado broke free of Warner again, this time taking it to the house for a 49-yard TD. The score was cut to 13 points after a failed two-point conversion.

The 49ers’ offense was clicking though, not taking their foot off the gas just yet.

McCaffrey picks up two first downs with his legs before fellow RB Jordan Mason picked up a 17-yard-gain after. The final nail in the coffin came next, with Purdy hitting Samuel on a perfect back shoulder toss from 19 yards out. The wideout kept both feet in-bounds to make it 45-22 with seven minutes remaining.

Curtains.

The Cardinals did end up scoring a consolation TD at the end, but it was too little too late. The final score read 45-29, in favor of the 49ers.

With the win, San Francisco locked up the NFC West for the second year in a row. Week 15 wins also marks the 12th-straight victory over a divisional opponent for the Red & Gold, their longest streak since 1971.

All eyes are on Brock Purdy however, finishing the game with 242 yards passing, four TDs and a 135.3 passer rating. Already in the MVP conversation, Purdy’s Week 15 play only heightens his case, especially in front of his hometown crowd.

Despite that, the humble gunslinger remains grateful for what’s around him, giving the nod to his fellow superstar, Christian McCaffrey, for the esteemed award.

“I think Christian should be MVP,” Brock Purdy said postgame.

Only time will tell who wins it, but with three weeks remaining in the regular season, Purdy has cemented himself as the odds-on favorite for 2023 NFL MVP.

The 49ers will look forward to an extra day of rest/recovery this week, with a return to Levi’s Stadium on the horizon. They face the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football as your Christmas Nightcap.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule:

  • Monday, Dec. 25th vs. Baltimore Ravens – 5:15 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 31st @ Washington Commanders – 10:00 a.m. PST
  • Sunday, Jan. 7th vs. Los Angeles Rams – TBD

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