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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Christian McCaffrey’s monster performance powers 49ers to 35-16 win over Cardinals

Oct 1, 2023 at 4:21 PM

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
ARI 0 10 6 0 16
SF 7 14 0 14 35

If San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey winds up being in the MVP race as the 2023 season progresses, it will be his performance in a 35-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday that first put his name into the conversation.

McCaffrey finished the game with 106 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, while adding seven catches for 71 yards and one touchdown. McCaffrey became the first player in franchise history to go 13 consecutive games with a touchdown, breaking the mark of 12 games previously held by Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice (1987).

Also having a big performance for the 49ers was quarterback Brock Purdy, who had one of his best showings as a pro with 283 yards on 20-of-21 passing with two total touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk chipped in with six catches for a career-high 148 yards for the 49ers, while Cardinals quarterback Josh Dobbs had 265 yards and two touchdowns on 28-of-41 passing in a losing effort.

First Half

The Cardinals opened the game with possession but quickly punted after being held to a three-and-out. The 49ers took over at their own 38-yard line following a 15-yard punt return from Ray-Ray McCloud, then took a 7-0 lead after an efficient 8-play, 62-yard drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown run from McCaffrey. McCaffrey had four carries for 14 yards and two catches for 22 yards on the drive.

The Cardinals punted after seven plays on their second possession, then the McCaffrey show continued as he led the 49ers on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with his second touchdown of the game. McCaffrey had four carries in the first six plays of the drive, then after a fourth down conversion pass from Purdy to tight end George Kittle, McCaffrey caught a 12-yard pass to set up a first down at the 18-yard line, then on the ensuing play took a backward pass into the end zone in dazzling fashion to put the Cardinals in a 14-point hole early in the second quarter.

The score moved to 14-3 after the Cardinals added a 38-yard field goal from Matt Prater on their next possession, then McCaffrey made it a hat trick with a 6-yard touchdown catch to cap a 5-play, 75-yard drive that put the 49ers up 21-3 with just over five minutes remaining in the half. Purdy got the 49ers downfield in a hurry earlier in the drive with a 42-yard completion to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, then McCaffrey pushed into the end zone on a 2nd-and-Goal to give the 49ers three touchdowns in three possessions.

The Cardinals answered with a 13-play, 87-yard drive that kept them in the game with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs to wide receiver Michael Wilson to cut the 49ers' lead to 21-10. The Cardinals converted a fake punt at their own 21-yard line earlier in the drive, then Dobbs found Wilson with 23 seconds left in the half to keep the Cardinals in the game at the break.

McCaffrey finished the half with 10 carries for 53 yards and two touchdowns along with four catches for 40 yards and one touchdown. Purdy was a perfect 10-for-10 passing in the first half with 145 yards and one touchdown, while Dobbs finished with 108 yards and one touchdown on 12-of-20 passing.

Second Half

The 49ers advanced quickly downfield on the opening possession of the third quarter, moving to the Cardinals' 32-yard line in five plays. But a second down sack of Purdy by linebacker Dennis Gardeck put the 49ers in a 3rd-and-24, which led to a punt on the following play. The punt was downed by the 49ers at the 1-yard line, putting the Cardinals in a hole on their first possession of the second half.

The Cardinals didn't flinch over their field position, however, putting together an 11-play, 99-yard drive that ended with the second touchdown pass of the day from Dobbs to Wilson. The Cardinals converted on three third downs during the drive, then Dobbs connected with Wilson on a 1st-and-Goal from the 8-yard line to cut into the 49ers' lead. A failed two-point conversion attempt kept the score at 21-16 with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The momentum didn't last for the Cardinals, as the 49ers answered their touchdown with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in the fourth touchdown of the day for McCaffrey. The drive opened with a 34-yard completion from Purdy to Aiyuk to move the 49ers across midfield, then McCaffrey ran in from two yards out seven plays later to give the 49ers a 28-16 lead.

Dobbs led the Cardinals into 49ers' territory on the next drive, but the Cardinals were forced to punt after a third down sack from defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. The 49ers took over at their own 23-yard line after the punt with 9:13 remaining in the game, then closed the door on the Cardinals with a 14-play, 77-yard drive that ran the clock down to the 1:59 mark and ended with a one-yard touchdown sneak by Purdy to stretch the lead to 35-16.

The Cardinals turned the ball over on downs after 11 plays on their final possession, leaving the 49ers with one more play to down the ball and end the game. The 49ers move to 4-0 on the season with the win, while the Cardinals fall to 1-3 with the loss.

Game Notes: McCaffrey became the first 49ers player to score his team's first four touchdowns in a game... Sunday marked McCaffrey's 12th career game with at least one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown. According to NFL Research, only Marshall Faulk has more (15) in the Super Bowl era... The 49ers now hold a 35-29 series edge over the Cardinals... The 49ers were 14-point favorites in today's game... Sunday's game marked the first time in franchise history a 49ers team scored 30 or more points in their first four games... Next up for the 49ers is a Sunday night battle with the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on October 8 (8:20 p.m. ET/5:20 p.m. PT, NBC). The Cardinals will be at home next Sunday for an afternoon game against the Cincinnati Bengals (4:05 p.m. ET/1:05 p.m. PT, FOX).

ARI Team Stats SF
257 Passing Yards 271
105 Rushing Yards 124
257 Total Yards 271
6.46 Avg Yards per Pass 13.48
4.2 Avg Yards per Run 4.0
0 Fumbles Lost 0
0 Int Thrown 0
1 Sacks Allowed 1
00:30:46 Time of Pos 00:29:14
9/55 Penalties 4/21

Cardinals Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Joshua Dobbs 28/41 265 2 0
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
James Conner 11 52 4.7 0
Joshua Dobbs 12 48 4 0
Emari Demercado 1 3 3 0
Zeke Turner 1 2 2 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Marquise Brown 7 10 96 0
Michael Wilson 7 7 76 2
Zach Ertz 6 10 53 0
Emari Demercado 3 4 21 0
Zach Pascal 3 4 10 0
Trey McBride 1 1 5 0
James Conner 1 2 4 0
Geoff Swaim 0 1 0 0
Rondale Moore 0 2 0 0
Fumbles Fum Lost
Joshua Dobbs 1 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Matt Prater 1 1 38 1
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Nolan Cooney 3 31 0 49
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Zeke Turner 9-5 0 0 0
K'Von Wallace 8-4 0 0 0
Kyzir White 7-4 0 0 0
Kei'Trel Clark 5-0 0 0 0
Leki Fotu 4-2 0 0 0
Dennis Gardeck 4-2 1 0 0
Marco Wilson 4-1 0 0 0
Zaven Collins 4-0 0 0 0
Roy Lopez 3-2 0 0 0
Jalen Thompson 3-0 0 0 0
Kevin Strong 2-1 0 0 0
Dante Stills 2-1 0 0 0
Victor Dimukeje 1-1 0 0 0
Eric Banks 1-0 0 0 0
Cameron Thomas 1-0 0 0 0

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Brock Purdy 20/21 283 1 0
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Christian McCaffrey 20 106 5.3 3
Jordan Mason 3 10 3.3 0
Deebo Samuel 3 6 2 0
Kyle Juszczyk 2 3 1.5 0
Brock Purdy 2 0 0 1
Sam Darnold 1 -1 -1 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Brandon Aiyuk 6 6 148 0
Christian McCaffrey 7 8 71 1
Ray-Ray McCloud 2 2 22 0
Jordan Mason 1 1 13 0
Willie Snead 1 1 9 0
George Kittle 1 1 9 0
Ronnie Bell 1 1 7 0
Kyle Juszczyk 1 1 4 0
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Mitch Wishnowsky 1 45 1 45
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Ray-Ray McCloud 2 12 0 15
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Tashaun Gipson 5-4 0 0 0
Deommodore Lenoir 5-1 0 0 0
Talanoa Hufanga 5-1 0 0 0
Javon Hargrave 4-2 1 0 0
Isaiah Oliver 4-0 0 0 0
Ambry Thomas 3-1 0 0 0
Kendall Sheffield 3-0 0 0 0
Oren Burks 2-1 0 0 0
Charvarius Ward 2-1 0 0 0
Arik Armstead 2-1 0 0 0
Fred Warner 10-2 0 0 0
Dre Greenlaw 10-2 0 0 0
Drake Jackson 1-1 0 0 0
Ji'Ayir Brown 1-1 0 0 0
George Odum 1-0 0 0 0
Kevin Givens 1-0 0 0 0
Clelin Ferrell 1-0 0 0 0
Javon Kinlaw 1-0 0 0 0
Dee Winters 1-0 0 0 0
Brayden Willis 1-0 0 0 0

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