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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers wrap up regular season in style with lopsided 38-13 win over Cardinals

Jan 8, 2023 at 4:22 PM

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The San Francisco 49ers will be heading into the postseason on a high note after pulling away from the Arizona Cardinals for a 38-13 blowout victory at Levi's Stadium on Sunday.

The 49ers gave up a touchdown on the opening possession but quickly took back the lead on the next possession and didn't look back. 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy finished with 178 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-20 passing to finish the regular season without a loss since taking over the starting spot for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in December. The 49ers defense chipped in with four takeaways on the day, two of them coming in the form of interceptions of Cardinals quarterback David Blough, who finished 14-of-18 for 180 yards with one touchdown.

First Half

The Cardinals got on the scoreboard in less than a minute, taking a 6-0 lead when Blough connected with wide receiver A.J. Green on the second offensive play of the game. Blough completed a three-yard pass to wide receiver Pharoh Cooper on the first play, then the Cardinals reached into their bag of tricks when Blough tossed the ball to Cooper, who then threw back to Blough, who then found Green deep downfield for a catch and score. Kicker Matt Prater's extra point attempt was no good, leaving the score at 6-0 with less than a minute off the clock.

The 49ers answered almost as quickly, taking a 7-6 lead on a six-play, 75-yard drive that got them into the end zone in just over three minutes. A 26-yard completion to fullback Kyle Juszczyk on the second play of the drive followed by a 13-yard run by Purdy set the 49ers up with a 1st-and-10 at the Cardinals' 27-yard line, then on 3rd down Purdy dumped the ball off to running back Christian McCaffrey, who weaved his way into the end zone to put the 49ers on top.

The teams traded three-and-outs on the next two possessions, with Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt making his presence felt early and often. Playing in his final game after announcing his retirement in late December, Watt sacked Purdy on the 49ers' second possession, the first of two sacks he had in the game.

A golden opportunity came for the 49ers on the third series of the game when the Cardinals went for a first down on a 4th-and-1 in their own territory but were stopped short. The 49ers couldn't capitalize, however, as they were held to a second consecutive three-and-out after Purdy took a 17-yard loss when he failed to get the ball away on third down and was tackled by linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons.

The teams traded punts once again from there, then the 49ers were given another opportunity from their defense when safety Tashaun Gipson picked off Blough deep in Cardinals territory. The 49ers capitalized this time, with running back Elijah Mitchell plowed his way into the end zone from six yards out for his first touchdown of the season after missing all but four games due to knee injuries. The extra point from kicker Robbie Gould gave the 49ers a 14-6 lead early in the second quarter.

The Cardinals answered the touchdown with the longest scoring drive of the first half, a 12-play, 75-yard possession that took over seven minutes off the clock and finished with a one-yard scoring run by Corey Clement. The Cardinals converted on 3rd-and-14 and 3rd-and-11 earlier in the drive, then cut the lead to 14-13 when Clement ran in with just under five minutes remaining.

The 49ers responded with a nine-play, 66-yard drive that took up most of the remaining time in the first half and culminated with a four-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to tight end George Kittle. The drive started with a 22-yard completion from Purdy to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to move into Cardinals territory, then the offense gradually moved into scoring range before Kittle made a dazzling grab in the back of the end zone to put the 49ers up 21-13 heading into halftime.

Second Half

Any hopes the Cardinals had of coming out of Levi's Stadium with an upset came to an end quickly in the third quarter as the 49ers pulled away with 17 unanswered points to start the second half. The first of those points came on the opening drive of the third quarter, with the 49ers moving 75 yards on seven plays to take a 28-13 lead one Mitchell's second touchdown run of the game. Mitchell set up the score with a 37-yard run to the Cardinals' 6-yard line, then he finished the job to put the 49ers up 15 with less than four minutes gone in the quarter.

Gipson gave the 49ers a short field once again on the next possession when he intercepted Blough on third down to set the 49ers up at the Cardinals' 34-yard line. The 49ers moved to the 6-yard line yet again but were unable to get in the end zone, settling instead for a 27-yard field goal from Gould to stretch the lead to 31-13.

The defense stepped up yet again on the next possession, giving the 49ers their third takeaway of the game when defensive end Jordan Willis made a strip sack on Blough that was recovered by defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour at the Cardinals' 28-yard line. Six plays later Purdy found Kittle once again, this time from one yard out on a 3rd-and-Goal to give the 49ers a 38-13 lead.

Both teams made a quarterback change after the Kittle touchdown, with the Cardinals switching to Trace McSorley due to an injury to Blough and the 49ers taking Purdy out of the game in favor of backup Josh Johnson. McSorley's first drive moved to the 49ers' 31-yard line before a turnover on downs early in the fourth quarter, while Johnson's first possession ended in a three-and-out. Then it was McSorley's turn to toss an interception, this one going to backup safety and special teams ace George Odum, who gave the 49ers possession at the Cardinals' 13-yard line with just over two minutes left in the game. The 49ers ran out most of the clock with a turnover on downs, then McSorley took a knee on the final play to wrap up the game.

The 49ers ended their regular season with a 13-4 record and a ten-game winning streak, while the Cardinals closed their season at 4-13. The 49ers will begin postseason play next week.

Game Notes: The win gives the 49ers a perfect 6-0 record against NFC West opponents and a 34-29 edge in their all-time series against the Cardinals... The 49ers needed a win over the Cardinals plus a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles to the New York Giants to earn the number one seed in the NFC playoffs, but the Giants fell short, leaving the 49ers set to host a playoff game at Levi's Stadium next week against an opponent that was still to be determined as of early Sunday evening... The 49ers were 14-point favorites heading into the game... Watt's sack of Purdy in the first quarter gave him a career total of 50 different quarterbacks he has sacked... 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk surpassed 1,000 receiving yards on the season with his 20-yard catch in the third quarter... According to NFL research, Purdy became the second rookie quarterback in NFL history to have a streak of six or more consecutive games with two or more passing touchdowns. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert became the first player to do so with a seven-game streak in 2020.

Team Stats
194 Passing Yards 142
61 Rushing Yards 169
255 Total Yards 311
7.74 Avg Yards per Pass 8.9
3.05 Avg Yards per Run 4.57
1 Fumbles Lost 0
3 Int Thrown 0
3 Sacks Allowed 4
00:25:46 Time of Pos 00:34:14
7 Penalties 2

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