Christian McCaffrey, Brock Purdy combine to smash Cardinals in Week 15 win

Christian McCaffrey dominated, and Brock Purdy put on a show in his home state.

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (L) and quarterback Brock Purdy (R)
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (L) and quarterback Brock Purdy (R) / Norm Hall/GettyImages

32. 49ers Cardinals final score. 45. 42. Final. 29

The 49ers didn't fall victim to a trap game against the Cardinals, as Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey stole the show out in the desert.

Their record might not suggest it, but the 3-11 Arizona Cardinals are much more feisty a team than one might think.

And that feistiness was on full display during the San Francisco 49ers' 45-29 Week 15 victory out at State Farm Stadium on Sunday to improve to 11-3. Not only did the Niners weather an opening Arizona drive, but they also withstood the Cardinals' top strength: a rushing attack that was averaging a considerable 4.7 yards per carry entering Week 15.

One of the reasons San Francisco kept Arizona at bay? Well, it's more like two reasons: quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Christian McCaffrey.

49ers offense funnels through Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey

As said on CBS Sports' halftime show, analyst and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason is absolutely sick of hearing that Purdy is a "game manager."

Based on Purdy's four-touchdown performance against Arizona in which he passed for 242 yards and a 135.3 rating, it's hard to argue.

Plus, Purdy had a bit of extra motivation by returning to his home state of Arizona and facing off against his boyhood Cardinals squad in front of friends and family.

Although it appeared as if Purdy suffered a nightmare late in the first half.

Purdy was knocked to the ground by a late hit from Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck and was in a lot of pain, ultimately walking off the field under his own power and being out of action for at least a couple of plays.

Upon his return from a scary moment, though, Purdy connected with McCaffrey for a 5-yard touchdown:

That was the first of two pass touchdowns between Purdy and McCaffrey, the other involving a beautiful evasion from pressure and a wide-open McCaffrey easily getting into the end zone.

McCaffrey also added a touchdown on the ground, too, boasting three scores on the day and now stands tied for the NFL record for most games with both a rushing and receiving touchdown (15).

As far as stats, McCaffrey had 115 rush yards, 72 receiving yards and didn't relinquish a rushing carry until the fourth quarter.

49ers defense bends vs. Cardinals run game, clamps down against the pass

Without injured defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave, who were both injured, San Francisco was going to be susceptible to giving up chunk yards to the Cardinals' rushing attack, which entered the game averaging an NFL third-best 4.7 yards per attempt.

Arizona finished with 234 yards on the ground, which marked the first time since 2017 that the 49ers gave up that many yards on the ground.

However, thanks to two interceptions by cornerback Charvarius Ward, one of which was returned for a 66-yard touchdown, the Niners effectively negated the Cardinals' ability to stay in the game solely via the ground game.

More importantly, San Francisco held quarterback Kyler Murray and Arizona's pass offense to just 211 yards with a single garbage-time touchdown through the air.

That wasn't going to cut it against Purdy, McCaffrey and the rest of the red and gold's offense.

49ers' scoreboard watching to continue on Monday night

The 49ers, who clinched the NFC West crown with the victory over the red birds, got help last week from the Dallas Cowboys, who beat the Philadelphia Eagles to help Purdy and Co. get into the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff picture.

This week, the Niners were going to ask the Buffalo Bills to beat Dallas, which entered the week with an identical 10-3 record as both Philly and San Francisco. Buffalo delivered, sending the Cowboys to 10-4 and a full game behind the 49ers in the conference. And with the Niners holding tiebreakers over Dallas and Philadelphia by way of beating both teams earlier this season, it's effectively a two-game lead.

Now, as odd as it sounds, San Francisco will be rooting for the Seattle Seahawks to beat the Eagles on Monday Night Football, which would give the 49ers a bit of extra breathing room over Philly, too.

For now, the Niners can relax knowing they did what they had to do in Week 15.

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