The San Francisco 49ers crushed the Arizona Cardinals in a 35-16 victory on Sunday. While the Cardinals weren’t technically out of it until San Francisco’s final touchdown drive, the Niners scored touchdowns on five of their six possessions and never seemed to lose control of the game. They were the better team, and it was obvious.
Here are position-by-position grades from the win:
Brock Purdy has gotten away with some inconsistencies early in the season, but facing a flawed Cardinals defense, Purdy diced them up in probably the best overall performance of his career. Purdy completed 20 of his 21 throws for 283 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown on a quarterback sneak at the goal line. He also had his deepest down-field completion to Brandon Aiyuk. Purdy has an incredible group of skill position players, but he plays with the confidence the Niners can afford their quarterback to have.
Running backs: A+
Christian McCaffrey was so impressive that national pundits were beginning to throw him into early MVP conversations. He scored four touchdowns on 27 touches (20 carries, seven receptions) for 177 total yards. Jordan Mason only got a trio of carries for 10 yards, and Kyle Shanahan could probably use a bit more of a cautious approach with McCaffrey, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Tight ends: B-
George Kittle returned to a minor receiving role, something that has been a tendency since Purdy took over last year. He was still impactful as a blocker and decoy but only caught one pass for nine yards.
Wide receivers: A+
Aiyuk is a superstar in the making. If it weren’t for McCaffrey’s four-score day, Aiyuk amassing 146 receiving yards on just six targets (all of which were caught) would have been the story. Aiyuk’s eventual contract extension could force the 49ers to make some difficult decisions to maneuver under the salary cap, but that’s a problem they will happily welcome. Ray-Ray McCloud was the only other receiver with more than one catch, hauling in two receptions for 22 yards.
Offensive line: B+
The 49ers offensive line did what they needed to do. They gave Purdy enough time to carve the Cards up while also generating plenty of push for McCaffrey.
Defensive line: B
The 49ers defensive line was good, generating plenty of pressure on Cardinals quarterback Josh Dobbs. However, Dobbs’ athleticism allowed him to only take one sack and rush for nearly 50 yards. Still, the pressures got Dobbs off schedule and prevented Arizona’s offense from finding a much-needed rhythm.
Even when Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw don’t end up making the biggest plays of a game, it’s impossible to miss their presence. Greenlaw and Warner were all over the field, mucking up the Cardinals’ gameplan.
The Niners’ secondary had a much easier job because of the pressure generated up front, and so the fact that Dobbs completed nearly 68.3% of his throws reflects a bit more poorly on them. This might be a bit too harsh, given that the Cards only scored 16 points despite committing no turnovers. But it was not a banner day for the 49ers corners.
Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson were fairly invisible because the Cardinals were rarely able to push the ball downfield. They combined for 8 total tackles.
Special teams: B
Jake Moody made every kick, but they were all extra points. Mitch Wishnowsky’s only punt pinned the Cardinals inside their 20-yard line as well. Ray-Ray McCloud did make a weird kickoff return decision, but it was a relatively mistake-free performance. Granted, there weren’t many exceptional challenge either.