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3 quick takeaways from the 49ers 45-29 win over the Cardinals

The 49ers put up their highest scoring total in their win over the Cardinals.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The San Francisco 49ers poured in a season-high in a 45-29 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, improving to 11-3, while maintaining control of the NFC’s No. 1 seed.

Offensively, the 49ers bounced back from a slow start to score six touchdowns in a strong performance, with Christian McCaffrey scoring three of the bunch in a strong, multi-faceted performance.

Defensively, San Francisco gave up over 400 yards, which led to 29 points for the Cardinals, the most that the 49ers have given up over their six-game win streak.

Here are three quick takeaways from the 49ers 45-29 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.

Tackling

Before we get to the good, we have to talk about the biggest issue of the game: tackling.

The 49ers put together a horrendous tackling performance, which allowed a 3-10 Cardinals to put up their highest scoring total of the season.

San Francisco had 16 missed tackles, according to PFF, with Fred Warner leading the way in a poor performance by his standards.

That allowed Arizona to run for 234 yards on 7.8 yards per carry, which is by far the most that San Francisco has given up this season.

The 49ers approached the game with a solid game-plan, but were flat-out sloppy with their play, which led to the Cardinals remaining closer than they should’ve been.

Of course, it didn’t help that the 49ers were missing both starting defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave, but San Francisco needs to be much cleaner defensively going forward.

Red zone

Just three weeks ago, the red zone was a big talking point for the 49ers, who faced a cold stretch between Weeks 7-12 in their efficiency inside the 20-yard line.

However, they’ve been elite since, entering the game with 9 touchdowns in 10 red zone opportunities over their past three games, and that trend only continued on Sunday.

San Francisco converted on all four of their opportunities offensively, which led to 45 points, and their lone field goal came during garbage time with the backups already in.

This came against an Arizona defense who came into the game allowing only 50 percent of opponent red zone opportunities to convert over the past three games.

On the defensive side, San Francisco did give up three touchdowns in four red zone chances, but I thought the efforts to force three separate field goal attempts were vital.

While two of them came outside of the red zone, those drives were the difference makers, as Arizona had six scoring drives, but ended with just 29 points on them.

Brock Purdy/Christian McCaffrey’s MVP case

As the weeks go on, it seems to be more and more likely that a San Francisco 49ers player could hoist the MVP trophy this season.

Week 15 only helped their cases, as Brock Purdy threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns, while really only seeming off on a play or two in an efficient performance.

On the other hand, Christian McCaffrey had 189 total yards and added three touchdowns to his league high total of 20, which is tied with Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert.

Elsewhere, Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill didn’t play, but his offense had success in the run and the pass, and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott struggled against the stifling Buffalo Bills defense.

At the moment, it appears that Purdy and McCaffrey’s biggest rivals to winning the award are themselves, although the 49ers do face another MVP candidate in Lamar Jackson next weekend when the Baltimore Ravens visit Levi’s Stadium on Christmas.

For what it’s worth, Purdy shared his belief that McCaffrey should be the MVP in his postgame press conference.