The 49ers moved to 4-0 on the season with a 35-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium. Here are their grades for this win.
Brock Purdy was nearly perfect while running his career record to 9-0. Purdy completed 20 of 21 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown. He also scored a touchdown on a sneak to cap off the scoring. Purdy was completely in command of the 49ers offense. He hit Brandon Aiyuk with three deep shots. Kyle Shanahan showed his confidence in Purdy when he called for a pass on fourth and four in the first quarter. The quarterback showed why he has his coach’s trust when he hit George Kittle for a gain of nine.
Running Back: B+
Christian McCaffrey gets an A+ for his performance. McCaffrey finished with 106 yards rushing to go along with 71 yards on seven receptions and four touchdowns on 27 total touches. His 5.3 yards per rushing attempt was over half a yard better than the 4.6 Arizona had allowed coming into this game.
The rest of the 49ers running game get a C. Jordan Mason stepped into the second running back role with Elijah Mitchell out. He along with Deebo Samuel and Kyle Juszczyk were able to pick up just 19 yards on 8 attempts.
Wide Receiver: A+
San Francisco’s receivers caught every pass thrown their way against Arizona. Brandon Aiyuk led the way with 148 yards on 6 receptions. Aiyuk was able to come up with an “opportunity ball” from Brock Purdy for an explosive gain of 42 yards in the first half. The two are clearly on the same page and they connected on big gains of 25 and 20 yards in the second half.
Ray-Ray McCloud, Willie Snead and Ronnie Bell combined to record 36 yards on four receptions. Deebo Samuel was no targeted after missing practices during the week.
Tight End: A
George Kittle had just one reception for nine yards. This grade is also about the ability of Kittle and the other 49ers tight ends to block in the run game. They were instrumental in helping open holes for McCaffrey on two of his three touchdown runs.
Offensive Line: A
The 49ers offensive line allowed just one hit on Brock Purdy. They did a good job early in the quick passing game, and when Kyle Shanahan dialed up shot plays, they gave the quarterback enough time to get off an accurate throw.
A team does not rush for 124 yards without having solid play up front. That’s been the 49ers calling card since Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017.
Defensive Line: B+
The 49ers defensive line is one of the best in the league at creating pressure on the quarterback. They sacked Arizona quarterback Joshua Dobbs once and hit him on six other occasions. Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, and Arik Armstead combined to record 7 quarterback hits.
They would have received an A if not for allowing Dobbs to get loose on the ground. The Cardinals quarterback ran for 48 yards on 12 attempts, picking up five first downs with his legs.
Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner each recorded 10 tackles, including 8 solo tackles, to lead the 49ers defense. The two did a good job of bringing down Arizona running back James Conner. Conner is a bruising runner, but he was held to just 52 yards on 11 carries.
One of Greenlaw’s key plays doesn’t even show up in the stat sheet. By attacking the quarterback on an option around the right side, Greenlaw forced the tight end to grab him which led to a holding penalty. This helped the 49ers to force a punt, and the offense put the game away with a long touchdown drive.
Defensive Backs: C
The 49ers starting defensive backs get a B, but Ambry Thomas gets a D.
Thomas was sent out to replace Isaiah Oliver in the second quarter. Arizona saw this and went right after the third-year corner. Thomas allowed a 33 yard completion to Michael Thomas on a deep throw down the left sideline. On the next play he was too shallow, and Thomas brought in a 16 yard touchdown. Oliver played the rest of the game at nickelback.
With the exception of a 41 yard strike to Marquise Brown, the San Francisco secondary did a solid job of keeping everything in front of them and limiting the big play.
Special Teams: B
San Francisco allowed a first down when Arizona ran a fake punt in the third quarter. This drops their grade down.
Arizona returned only one kick, a 13 yard return on a kickoff. Jake Moody put the rest into the endzone for touchbacks and Mitchell Wishnowsky had a beautiful 45 yard punt which was downed by Oren Burks at the Cardinals one yardline.
Ray-Ray McCloud finished with 24 yards on two punt returns and brought a kickoff back 18 yards.
Kyle Shanahan’s offense put on a clinic against Arizona. It was as though he had something to prove to Jonathan Gannon after the NFC championship game loss in Philadelphia. Five of their eight possessions ended in touchdowns and two ended in kneel downs.
Shanahan did a good job of being patient in this game. After getting the running game going early, he mixed in the quick passing game before taking some shots down the field in the second quarter.
With a two score lead in the fourth quarter the 49ers offense closed out the game with a 77 yard drive which took 7:14 off the clock, ending when Brock Purdy snuck in from a yard out.
Steve Wilks had his defense ready to play.
Arizona came into this game having scored points on 11 of 15 first half possessions. The 49ers were able to force the Cardinals to punt on their first two possessions. This helped San Francisco get out to an early 14 point lead and control the flow of the game from there.
The only mistake from Wilks came when he inserted Ambry Thomas into the game. This put one of his best outside cornerbacks, Deommodore Lenoir into the slot. The Cardinals wasted little time attacking Thomas deep, his weakness, and pulled to within 11 at halftime.