The 49ers capped off an excellent regular season with a 38-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Let’s break down each position group’s performance as they prepare to face the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round.
Like the rest of the team, Brock Purdy got off to a slow start on Sunday, taking a couple of big losses trying to evade defenders on sacks and showing off some unusual inaccuracy. However, as the game went on, Purdy stayed poised and found his rhythm. In the end, he finished 15-for-20 for 178 yards with three touchdowns. Most importantly, he never put the ball in harm’s way.
Running backs: A+
Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell are a heckuva one-two punch. The two backs combined for 100 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 15 carries. McCaffrey also hauled in three receptions for 34 yards and another score. Jordan Mason and Ty Davis-Price added another 55 yards on the ground too. Kyle Juszczyk also had a 26-yard reception.
Tight ends: A
George Kittle only caught four passes for 29 yards on six targets, but he made an excellent full-extension catch in the endzone, and he caught two of Purdy’s touchdown passes.
Wide receivers: B-
Brandon Aiyuk was unable to make a full-extension catch in the first quarter but caught all of his other targets, finishing with 59 receiving yards and four receptions. Deebo Samuel and Jauan Jennings only caught three passes, but getting Samuel on the field just before the postseason was the main priority.
Offensive line: B
Purdy was sacked four times, easily the most since he replaced Garoppolo, and that was in large part because of some bad reps along the offensive line. Center Jake Brendel also had a costly false start on a 3rd-and-inches. With that said, the Niners rushers consistently had big lanes to attack on the ground, and Purdy usually had enough time to operate in the pocket.
Defensive line: B+
The 49ers' defense finished Sunday with three sacks, four sacks, and seven tackles for loss. Yet, it still felt far from the unit’s full potential. Most memorably, Nick Bosa secured the sack title on the season with one more on his tally, and Jordan Willis forced a fumble late in the game.
Fred Warner might have made the most impressive play of the game, hurdling the offensive line to stop a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches. Azeez Al-Shaair also stepped up in place of Dre Greenlaw, leading the team with ten tackles.
Jimmie Ward and Mooney Ward held up well, but Deommodore Lenoir remained the defense's weak point. Lenoir got beat on a 50/50 ball with A.J. Green on the first play from scrimmage, which turned into a 77-yard touchdown. That was far from the last time the Cardinals came after Lenoir. While the Cardinals were unable to fully capitalize, the 49ers' defense knows where opposing offenses are going to attack.
Tashaun Gipson should have been able to tackle Green on the first touchdown, but his two interceptions more than made up for that. He also had a pair of passes defended as well. Talanoa Hufanga finished with four tackles and avoided any egregious misses in coverage.
Special teams: B
An all-around solid day for special teams. No game-changing plays, but no noticeable mistakes either.