49ers 45-29 Cardinals (Dec. 17, 2023) Game Recap
GLENDALE, Ariz. – – Deebo Samuel was stunned To be wide open for the first landing in San Francisco From the game. A few quarters later, Christian McCaffrey had enough time to do just that He caught a deep pass, dropped to the turf, then scrambled to his feet And run for 41 yards.
Brock Purdy’s return to the desert as the 49ers’ starting quarterback was everything he ever dreamed of — especially since Arizona’s defense was in a helpful mood.
McCaffrey scored three touchdowns, Samuel added two scores, and the 49ers clinched the NFC West title by pushing their winning streak to six games with a 45-29 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.
“In high school, I used to watch the Cardinals, and now I play in the outfield,” Purdy said. “Very cool. Definitely something I will remember in my life and be grateful for.”
Purdy — who made his first NFL start at State Farm Stadium, about 45 miles from where he grew up — completed 16 of 25 passes for 242 yards and set a career-high with four touchdowns. He also suffered a hard hit in the second quarter that caused him to miss some plays.
Charvarius Ward had two interceptions, including a pick 6 in the first quarter.
During their winning streak, the 49ers (11-3) have won all of their games by at least 12 points. They have also won 12 straight against their NFC West opponents.
San Francisco won back-to-back division titles for the first time since the 2011-12 seasons.
“Winning the division is very important, it’s a big step for us,” McCaffrey said. “But everyone knows where we want to be. We know that every week we have to play our best football. We will give our best, so the level must continue to rise.”
McCaffrey scored his second touchdown early in the third quarter, sneaking out of the backfield for a 41-yard score and a 28-13 lead. The running back was so wide open that he jumped to catch the ball, fell, got to his feet, and sprinted to the end zone.
“He does everything for us,” Purdy said. “He runs the ball well, catches the ball, everything. In my opinion, he is the best player.”
He got there for a third later in the third quarter after going ahead with a one-yard run for a touchdown and a 35-16 advantage. Deebo Samuel followed with his second touchdown catch of the fourth, a 19-yard reception that made the score 42-22.
The 27-year-old McCaffrey finished with five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 115 yards and a score.
Ward put the 49ers ahead for good when he stepped in front of Trey McBride to pick off a Kyler Murray pass after the Cardinals (3-11) decided to go ahead on fourth-and-3. The cornerback ran 66 yards the other way for a 14-7 lead, turning away a pair of Arizona defenders.
The error ended Murray’s streak of 96 passes without an interception.
Arizona’s Matt Prater cut the deficit to 14-13 by nailing two field goals in the second quarter, one from 58 yards and the other from 43.
Purdy left briefly during the second quarter with his left shoulder after a hard hit from Arizona’s Dennis Gardeck, who was called for a 15-yard penalty kick. But the quarterback came back later in the drive and hit McCaffrey for a 5-yard touchdown with 1:14 left before halftime for a 21-13 lead.
“We have to play cleaner than that to play a really good football team,” Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon said. “We got stuck. It kind of got away from us in the end. I appreciate the effort.”
Murray completed 26 of 39 passes for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Cardinals are 2/3 since returning from a torn ACL in his right knee last month.
Emari Demercado added a 49-yard run in the fourth quarter. McBride caught 10 passes for 102 yards.
The Cardinals ran for 234 yards, finding some holes in the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense.
Arizona got off to a hot start as Murray found McBride twice for a total of 49 yards through the air before James Conner ran in for a 2-yard touchdown, capping an efficient seven-play, 75-yard drive.
“We drove the ball all day,” Murray said. “We just got into the red zone and couldn’t score.”
But the 49ers didn’t trail for long, as they responded with their own touchdown drive that ended with Purdy hitting a wide-open Samuel for a 12-yard touchdown.
49ers: CB Deommodor Lenoir (ribs) left in the second half and did not return.
Cardinals: TE Jeff Swain (calf) left in the second quarter and did not return. … WR Marquise Brown (heel) was also injured in the first half.
49ers: Home vs. Baltimore on Dec. 25.
Cardinals: At Chicago next Saturday.
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