The 49ers entered the 2023 NFL season with unfinished business after a gut-wrenching playoff exit in the NFC Championship Game.
Christian McCaffrey has picked up where he left off in his first full season with San Francisco, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are living up to their promise of "taking off," and Brock Purdy went from Mr. Irrelevant to an NFL MVP candidate. And, after a sluggish start, the 49ers' defense is back to its dominant ways.
Collectively, the 49ers are standing on business with one goal in mind: Reach the Super Bowl.
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They're making promising progress, as CBS Sports researcher and writer Doug Clawson pointed out that San Francisco, with five regular-season games remaining, is on pace to be the first NFL team with a 4,000-yard passer and four players with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards since the 2004 Indianapolis Colts did it.
Purdy has thrown for 3,185 yards and 23 touchdowns, and he leads the NFL with a 70.2 completion percentage and a 116.1 passer rating. McCaffrey, who already has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards, is sitting at 1,461 yards from scrimmage, while Aiyuk has 927, Samuel 750 and tight end George Kittle 737.
When the Colts accomplished the feat nearly two decades ago, Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning was their quarterback (4,557 passing yards), with Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James (2,031 yards from scrimmage), Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison (1,113 yards), six-time Pro Bowl pick Reggie Wayne (1,206 yards) and three-time Super Bowl champion Brandon Stokley (1,077 yards) as his primary weapons. Indianapolis finished 12-4, atop the AFC South, and Manning won his second of five NFL MVP awards.
San Francisco 49ers
Fast-forward 19 years later, and Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is a top candidate for this season's NFL MVP honors, while McCaffrey's name has been sprinkled in the conversation at times.
That 2004 Colts team undoubtedly was offensively dominant, but their historic season closed with a 20-3 divisional playoff round loss to the New England Patriots. The 2023 49ers, however, have other plans for how their season will end.