49ers Observations: NFC No. 2 seed clinched with 38-13 win against Cardinals

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers have never been hotter heading into the postseason. But his 10-game winning streak, which set a franchise record for consecutive wins through the end of the regular season, means little now that the NFL playoffs are about to begin.

the 49ers wrapped seed No. 2 in the NFC with a 38-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy continued to do what he does: throw touchdown passes and win games.

The 49ers (13-4) are 6-0 after Purdy replaced Jimmy Garoppolo as the first-quarter starter against the Miami Dolphins in Week 13. San Francisco trailed 7-3 when Purdy entered the game.

The 49ers will host the No. 7 seed (the Seattle Seahawks or the Green Bay Packers) on Saturday, Sunday or Monday at Levi’s Stadium. The NFL will announce the dates and times of the playoff games on Sunday night.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ easy win over the Cardinals (4-13):

Purdy consistent as 49ers starter

With his late-second-quarter touchdown pass to George Kittle, Purdy had his second touchdown pass of the game, tying his previous NFL record, which he’s scored in each of his first five games since taking over the starting role after of Garoppolo’s foot fracture.

Purdy threw two touchdown passes in games against Miami, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Washington and Las Vegas. He then added a third touchdown pass against the Cardinals, also to Kittle.

Purdy’s ability to find Kittle in the back of the end zone in the second quarter when he did also highlighted another of Purdy’s trademarks since taking over. He has shown a knack for engineering coach Kyle Shanahan’s late-half procedure to milk the clock and get out of possession with a touchdown.

The 49ers took control with 4:41 remaining in the first half after the Cardinals’ touchdown cut the 49ers’ lead to 14–13. San Francisco went on a deliberate nine-play, 66-yard touchdown drive culminating in Purdy’s touchdown pass to Kittle.

That was essentially the end of the first half, and the 49ers scored 14 points without the Cardinals gaining possession.

The second half opened with the 49ers receiving the kickoff and carrying it down the field for a touchdown for a 28-13 lead.

Purdy completed 15 of 20 pass attempts for 178 yards with three touchdown passes, no interceptions and a 141.2 passer rating.

Purdy took his final play with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter, as his third touchdown pass of the day, and his second to Kittle, gave the 49ers a 38-13 lead.

Mitchell gets back into the swing of things

Running back Elijah Mitchell made his second return this season after a lengthy absence due to injuries from the MCL.

In both games, Mitchell showed absolutely no rust. He had 18 carries for 89 yards in his first game back earlier this season, and on Sunday he had 55 yards and two touchdowns on just five rushing attempts.

Mitchell showed he was still in the swing of things when he caught a back pass from Purdy, picked up blocks from Deebo Samuel and Kyle Juszczyk and rushed down the right sideline for 37 yards in the third quarter.

On the next play, Mitchell went over left tackle for a 6-yard touchdown run.

Earlier, Mitchell scored on a 5-yard touchdown run that gave the 49ers a 14-6 lead.

Those were Mitchell’s first two touchdowns of the season after scoring seven times as a rookie. He has appeared in just five games this season.

Mitchell’s availability for the postseason gives the 49ers more options to pair up with running back Christian McCaffrey, who was the team’s sixth different leading rusher in the sixth season under Shanahan as head coach.

Gipson and Bosa lead 49ers defense

Defensive end Nick Bosa fell to a 49ers team-record sack, but the day was a success.

Safety Tashaun Gipson had two interceptions to help the 49ers build a big lead late in three quarters. That cushion provided the 49ers the luxury of moving some of their front-line players to sideline safety.

The Cardinals started David Blough at quarterback, and he provided Gipson with two of the easiest interceptions he has had in his NFL career.

Gipson finished the regular season with a team-high five interceptions, three of which came in the final two weeks of the season.
His 56-yard interception and interception return was the key play in the 49ers’ 37-34 overtime win against the Los Vegas Raiders in Week 17.

The 49ers received contributions from unheralded defensive linemen Jordan Willis, who had a sack strip, and Michael Dwumfour.

RELATED: 49ers’ 2023 home, road opponent set

Dwumfour, coming from the practice squad, stopped Blough’s quarterback drive on a fourth-down play in the first half. Then he recovered Blough’s fumble on Willis’s sack. That takeout led to a 49ers touchdown late in the third quarter. Backup safety George Odum caught an interception late in the game against Cardinals backup quarterback Trace McSorley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *