49ers Report Card

Grading 49ers' offense, defense in decisive win over Cardinals

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SANTA CLARA — Coach Kyle Shanahan was the only person who could keep Christian McCaffrey out of the end zone on Sunday.

Shanahan said he did not realize McCaffrey had already scored four touchdowns or he would have given him one more opportunity in the fourth quarter.

Instead, quarterback Brock Purdy had his number called on a 1-yard sneak to finish the scoring in the 49ers’ 35-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium.

And as for Purdy . . .

“He was great,” Shanahan said. “He was almost perfect. He hung in there and made some big throws.”

As has become customary, the 49ers earned nice grades across the board with their fourth consecutive decisive victory to open the 2023 NFL season.

Here are the grades from the 49ers’ Week 4 win over the pesky Cardinals:

Rushing offense

The 49ers averaged just 4.0 yards on their 31 rushing attempts. Focus on the number of carries and not just the 124 yards rushing.

This was the McCaffrey Show. He gained 106 yards and had three rushing touchdowns on 20 attempts.

Backup Jordan Mason managed just 10 yards on three carries, and receiver Deebo Samuel had 6 yards on three carries.

McCaffrey’s best touchdown was an all-timer for the highlight reel.

He took a backward pass along the right side from Purdy, picked up some nice blocks, hurdled a defender and powered into the end zone for an 18-yard score.

Grade: A-minus

Passing offense

So much for the whole idea that Purdy cannot throw the deep ball.

Purdy connected short, intermediate and deep against the Cardinals as he set a 49ers record for completion percentage. He completed 20 of 21 for 283 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 134.6.

His 95.2 competition percentage was better than Steve Young’s 90 percent (18 of 20) from a 1991 game against the Detroit Lions.

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, returning to action after missing a game with a shoulder injury, caught six passes for 148 yards. McCaffrey added seven receptions for 71 yards.

The 49ers found themselves in third downs only five times, and they converted three of them for 60 percent.

Grade: A

Rushing defense

The Cardinals wanted to get the run game going, and they had some success with running back James Conner and quarterback Josh Dobbs.

Conner averaged 4.7 yards with 52 yards on 11 carries. Dobbs gained 48 yards on 12 carries.

Linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw tied for team-high honors with 10 tackles apiece.

Grade: B

Passing defense

Dobbs had some success against the 49ers, as he completed 28 of 41 passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 102.2.

Cardinals wideouts Marquise Brown and Michael Wilson gave the 49ers’ secondary some fits. Brown had seven receptions for 96 yards. Wilson, a rookie from Stanford, added seven catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
The pass rush got seven hits on Dobbs, including four from Nick Bosa.

Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave registered the team’s only sack, which came on a third-and-10 play in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B-minus

Special teams

The Cardinals capitalized on a fake punt when the snapped the ball to the up back Ezekiel Turner, who gained 2 yards on the fourth-and-2 play.

Otherwise, it was a solid day for special teams.

Jake Moody made all five of his extra-point attempts, and punter Mitch Wishnowsky had just one punt, which netted 45 yards and was downed at the 1.

Newly acquired Kendall Sheffield made a nice play to keep the punt out of the field zone and Oren Burks covered it at the 1-yard line.

Grade: B-plus


Shanahan had the offensive machine purring. The 49ers ran out the clock to end both halves. On their other six possessions, the 49ers scored five touchdowns.

The offense fashioned great balance between the run and the pass. They got things going with high-percentage passes to build a nice rhythm and get on a roll.

Defensively, the 49ers could have tightened things up, for sure.

There was a letdown at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half.

They let the Cardinals out of a third-and-20 situation by giving up 13 easy yards on an underneath throw. Then, Dobbs scrambled for 7 yards on fourth down.

Grade: B-plus


The 49ers saw an end to their streak of three consecutive 30-point performance to open the season — with a 35-point outing against the Cardinals.

The 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles are the only 4-0 teams in the NFL.

And the 49ers have been remarkably consistent in getting off to the unbeaten start.

Grade: A-minus

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