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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Brock Purdy leads offensive masterclass vs. Cardinals: Key Takeaways

Marc Adams
Oct 2, 2023 at 5:35 AM--

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The Arizona Cardinals may not be as bad as we thought they were. And still, the San Francisco 49ers beat them handily, winning 35-16 over their division rival. With the victory, the 49ers improved to 4-0. This is the team's best start since 2019, but so far, they look much more impressive than they did in that season.

The defense is dominant once again in 2023. But the offense looks just as good, if not better. And it has a different feel. In recent years, the defense carried the team, and the offense would occasionally explode and have a big game. But this offense is much more consistent, and it is obvious that Kyle Shanahan trusts his quarterback more than he has since he's been in Santa Clara. He's taking more risks, and that's leading to more points.

Here's what jumped out to me in this win over the Cardinals:

  • If someone is going to break a record held by Jerry Rice, I'm glad it was Christian McCaffrey. The 49ers running back broke Rice's franchise record by scoring a touchdown in his 13th straight game with the team. Per ESPN, McCaffrey is "the first player in the NFL to do that since Arian Foster had a 13-game streak for Houston in 2011-12. McCaffrey is two shy of the record since the merger held by John Riggins and O.J. Simpson."

  • Ja'Ayir Brown making an impact on special teams is good to see. It would be exciting to see him play with this defense, but as long as Tashaun Gipson continues to play at a high level, Brown may have to wait a while.
  • McCaffrey is Superman. He not only runs—he flies.

  • Someone tell Jake Moody he's not allowed to kick the ball out of bounds on kickoffs. That's twice this season already. His blunder in this game gave the Cardinals the ball at the 40-yard line and allowed them to get their first points on the board. Moody was perfect on all his PATs, though.

  • Welcome back, Brandon Aiyuk. The 49ers got their top receiver back, and Aiyuk did not disappoint, hauling in six catches for 148 yards. One of those was a beautiful downfield throw by Brock Purdy, but an even better catch by Aiyuk. The receiver was targetted six times, so he once again, caught every ball thrown his way. He not only runs great routes, but he has great hands. He's quickly becoming one of the best receivers in the league.

  • Have I mentioned McCaffrey is really good? Four touchdowns. And he probably could have had five, but Shanahan called Purdy's number instead.
  • Deebo Samuel didn't do much in this game, but it could be that he was just a decoy and that they weren't planning to get the ball in his hands that often, due to his two injuries.
  • Ambry Thomas is not good. When he plays, bad things happen.

  • Purdy's first incompletion didn't happen until the third quarter. He is so impressive. He finished the day 20-21 for 283 yards and one touchdown. At every turn, Purdy amazes me. He passes each test that is thrown his way. Young QBs aren't supposed to have mastered the position at this point, but Purdy seems to not only have mastered it but is leading it. Remember when people said he couldn't throw deep? He did that multiple times on Sunday.
  • The way the 49ers defense ended the first half and started the second half was not encouraging. They gave up three consecutive scoring drives. Should we be concerned? The pass rush was there, but Arizona was getting the ball out quickly, so the 49ers only had one sack. I thought the defense would be more dominant against a team with Joshua Dobbs at quarterback. That said, the defense got the stops when they needed to get them.
  • I may not have mentioned this, but McCaffrey is other-worldly.

  • I continue to be impressed with Drake Jackson. He made a great read on a screen pass in the game that helped the defense get off the field. He keeps getting better, and as he gains experience, his athleticism will really start to shine.
  • Javon Hargrave was unblockable. He may end up being the missing piece the defense needed the past few seasons.

  • The 49ers offense is dangerous. Are they now better than the defense?
  • Willie Snead can block. And he made a catch, as well.
  • Purdy, Aiyuk, and McCaffrey were incredible in this game.
  • So was the offensive line. Other than the sack Colton McKivitz surrendered, they were really good. The scary part is that Micah Parsons is up next for McKivitz.
  • Shanahan called an excellent game, too.

Next up is the 3-1 Dallas Cowboys. Some weeks, Dallas looks incredible. Some weeks, they don't. Which one will we see?
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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