SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Three touchdowns by Christian McCaffrey put the undefeated 49ers’ fourth win in motion Sunday.
But 35 minutes remained. Things stalled. The Arizona Cardinals rallied. The 49ers needed more.
Sure enough, McCaffrey delivered with his fourth touchdown, and that fourth-quarter score vaulted the 49ers toward an eventual 35-16 win that secured a 4-0 record for only the fifth time in franchise history.
The 49ers end their three-game homestand with its marquee attraction next Sunday night, when the Dallas Cowboys return to the site of their divisional-playoff loss, 19-12, on Jan. 22.
McCaffrey nearly matched the franchise’s single-game touchdown record, but a potential fifth score was denied at the 2-yard line on a 2-yard run in the final minutes, and rather than give him the ball again, coach Kyle Shanahan’s call resulted in a Brock Purdy sneak from inside the 1 to cap the scoring spree.
“Honestly I had no idea until I came in here he had four touchdowns,” Shanahan said in his press conference. “I’m kind of shocked. Now I kind of feel bad.”
“That would have been nice,” McCaffrey said half-jokingly about a potential fifth touchdown. “No, (Shanahan) obviously has a lot going on in-game. That’s the last of anyone’s worries to do that. As long as we scored, I was happy.”
Purdy said he had no idea, either, that he finished 20-of-21, which set a franchise record. He started 13-of-13 and remains unbeaten in regular-season starts, and he’s gone 211 consecutive passes without an interception.
His lone incompletion appeared a third-and-long throwaway — off his back foot, toward McCaffrey, that went harmlessly out of bounds from the Cardinals’ 46-yard line — only Purdy did not see that as an intentional miss.
“I’m still mad about the one (incompletion) to Christian,” Purdy said. “He broke out, was open and I should have hit him. We were in field-goal range.”
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