Next Gen Stats features 3 key 49ers, but are there too many mouths for Brock Purdy to feed?

The NFL's advanced statistics show how epic the Niners' three-headed monster's performance was on Sunday, while a pair of hungry All-Pro threats never got the opportunity to eat.
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23)
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Next Gen Stats highlights the Week 4 efforts of the 49ers' Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey, and Brandon Aiyuk with some interesting advanced statistics.

This week’s NFL Next Gen Stat Highlights from our friends at Zebra Technologies, the provider of the on-field tracking data used to power NFL Next Gen Stats, features three impressive individual performances from the undefeated San Francisco 49ers during their 35-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Notably, all three players play on the offensive side of the ball, and neither tight end George Kittle nor wide receiver Deebo Samuel were mentioned.

Quarterback Brock Purdy’s near-perfect afternoon was featured prominently, first via the QB Stat of the Week. Purdy recorded a 28-percent completion-percentage-over-expected (CPOE), which tops all NFL quarterbacks in any game over the past seven seasons. For added perspective, earlier in the day, Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen posted the highest CPOE numbers of his illustrious career.

And then Purdy doubled it.

Against Arizona, Purdy threw just one incomplete pass in 21 attempts while recording 283 passing yards and a score, and an additional rushing touchdown. Purdy now leads the NFL in passer rating, adjusted-yards-per-attempt and interception percentage, as well as ESPN’s “NFL Total QBR” metric, for what it’s worth.

Purdy also completed his longest pass by air distance since entering the league, as he slung it 46.8 yards to his go-to receiver Brandon Aiyuk. The wideout had a day to remember, commanding an impressive 70.48% share of the 49ers’ air yards in the game, which was tops in the league for the week. Aiyuk caught each of his six targets for 148 yards, averaging an impressive 23.7 yards per target. His 20.6 average-targeted-air-yards ranked third-highest among wide receivers, as he continues to showcase his downfield prowess–even when double-covered.

Running back Christian McCaffrey posted a 55-percent rushing success rate, his best showing since arriving in the Bay Area last season. He totaled 106 rushing yards on 20 carries and found the end zone three times on the ground. McCaffrey also added 7 receptions for 71 yards and another score through the air. Over the past two seasons, McCaffrey’s 219 yards-after-catch-over-expected (YACOE) ranks first among all NFL running backs. Soon after the game, the MVP talk began.

In total, the NFL Next Gen Stat Highlights quantified the exceptional offensive performances by Purdy, McCaffrey and Aiyuk in the 49ers’ fourth win of the 2023 season. With Purdy’s composure and accuracy in and out of the pocket, McCaffrey’s dual-threat playmaking ability, and Aiuyk’s consistency in the deep-passing game, San Francisco’s offense appears poised for continued success.

But what about the other star receiving options on the 49ers’ roster? Deebo Samuel wasn’t targeted in the game, and managed to touch the ball just three times on the ground during the contest. Samuel played more of a decoy role in the passing game; However, considering Deebo was questionable to play at all, and has remained limited in practice this week due to injury, it’s likely a bit too early for concern.

When asked whether he was frustrated after just one pass was thrown his way, Kittle responded, “Niners are winning football games. I’m playing well in the run game, and as long as I’m playing to my standard, I can only control what I can control.” Kittle added, “Sure, I love getting the football. I love running in space; it’s fun. But if those aren’t the play-calls being called, it is what it is, and I’m just going to do everything I can do to either get those guys open or block [with maximum effort], and I’ve been doing that pretty well so far.”

Kittle’s team-centric response was expected, but especially after passing over his tight end for other options on a couple of passing plays, it wouldn’t hurt Purdy to establish a close connection with a player worthy of the “go-to-receiver” status he’s established over his seven years in the NFL. With under 150 receiving yards on the season, perhaps Kittle is due for the 49ers’ next breakout performance. 

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