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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

The Hard Count: Brock Purdy and the 49ers distinguish themselves from the top of NFC

With a 42–10 win over fellow NFC contender Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers look like one of the best teams in the league.

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The 49ers are pictured.

In October 2022, the San Francisco 49ers traded four mid-round draft picks for dual-threat running back Christian McCaffrey. A year later, and that trade seems like more and more of a bargain. The Niners destroyed NFC rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, 42–10 on Sunday Night Football, as McCaffrey notched his 14th straight game with at least one touchdown (including four in one game a week ago).

This marks a five-game streak where the Niners have gone 5–0, scored at least 30 points in every game, and won by an average of nearly 20 points. McCaffrey has certainly been a major part of San Francisco’s success, as he’s currently on pace for over 15 rushing touchdowns and over 1000 rushing yards. An even more compelling source for the Niners’ run, however, has been the play of second-year quarterback Brock Purdy.

After being picked dead last in the 2022 NFL draft (earning the nickname “Mr. Irrelevant”), Purdy was brought in for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance in Week 13 of last year as a rookie. Since then, he’s been 10–0 in regular season games, with 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions for a total QB rating of 114.4. In fact San Francisco’s only loss of the Purdy era came in last year’s NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in which Purdy exited the game with an injury in the first quarter.

After Purdy’s performance against Dallas, he jumped up to fifth in MVP betting odds, behind only Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. McCaffrey also found himself in the top 10. 

Purdy and CMC are only a fraction of San Francisco’s talent, to say nothing of George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Fred Warner, Nick Bosa and the recent addition of Randy Gregory from the Denver Broncos. Although Gregory struggled in Denver, the overall talent of the Niners’ defense will likely gain him some favorable matchups against opposing offensive lines.

The Niners are even better set up in an NFC with a fairly weak top tier. The Cowboys have faced significant inconsistency, especially from quarterback Dak Prescott and coach Mike McCarthy. In fact, outside of San Francisco, only the Detroit Lions and Eagles look like genuine contenders.

Philadelphia is the only other team in the NFL to be undefeated through five games, but they have far more glaring issues than the 49ers, including third down inefficiency and inability to make big plays, that have contributed to far closer games. Meanwhile, Detroit just doesn’t have as good of a roster on paper when compared to San Francisco’s star-studded lineup.

In my opinion, this win over the Cowboys cements the Niners as the best team in the NFC, possibly in the entire NFL. They’re unlikely to slow down now, facing the Browns, Vikings and Bengals, who together have a combined record of 5–9, and then heading into a bye week. It’s a long season and a lot can change, but don’t be surprised if Brock Purdy’s 49ers make a deep — and possibly historic — 2023 run.