49ers observations Christian McCaffrey scores overtime win over Raiders

49ers observations: Christian McCaffrey scores overtime win over Raiders

LAS VEGAS — The 49ers didn’t roll into the new year exactly the way they finished 2022.

But after eight straight wins, this might have been the kind of game the 49ers needed to fully prepare for the pressures of the NFL playoffs.

Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Christian McCaffrey helped the 49ers to a 37-34 overtime win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.

Robbie Gould atoned for a missed field goal attempt at the end of regulation time with a 23-yard field goal after Tashaun Gipson intercepted and played a 56-yard return. Gould’s kick came with 6:53 remaining in 10-minute overtime.

The 49ers (12-4) moved into the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed and entered the final week of the regular season. They own the conference tiebreaker against the Minnesota Vikings (12-4), who lost to the Green Bay Packers.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ Week 17 game against the Raiders:

Purdy faces NFL resistance for the first time

The 49ers had not lagged in any of Purdy’s first three starts. What came out of his fourth start was his first comeback win.

When Purdy entered the Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins, the 49ers were trailing 7-3. They took the lead on Purdy’s first drive and haven’t fallen behind in a game since.

That changed against the Raiders.

He led a run down the field with completions of 12, 18, 11 and 11 yards for Brandon Aiyuk by the end of the rule. However, kicker Robbie Gould missed a 41-yard field goal attempt far right when time usually ran out.

Purdy completed 22 of 35 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. And he was at the controls as the 49ers marched 75 yards in five games for the go-ahead TD running back Jordan Mason scored on a 14-yard streak.

The 49ers fell 24-14 in the third quarter, forcing Purdy to catch up. And with the 49ers still trailing late in the third quarter, Purdy’s deep pass for George Kittle was intercepted by Raiders defenseman Amik Robertson.

But the 49ers got the ball back a short time later through Drake Jackson’s interception and settled for a field goal from Gould, making the 24th with 12 minutes left.

Purdy got off to a good start in Las Vegas. He threw two touchdown passes in each of his first four games, and it didn’t take long for him to match that average Sunday as he connected with Aiyuk and Kittle in the first half. It was Purdy’s second touchdown throw for Aiyuk and fifth for Kittle.

Tough day for the NFL’s top defense

That should have been a mismatch.

The Raiders turned to their No. 2 quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, after banning Derek Carr for the remainder of the season.

The conclusion was that Raiders coach Josh McDaniels folded with two games remaining. But it certainly didn’t look like that from the start.

Stidham, who was making the first start of his four-year NFL career, was playing well until Gipson’s overtime interception. Nick Bosa forced the miss with a push.

The 49ers came into play, allowing a league-low average of 290.3 yards per game. Las Vegas rolled up 134 yards after the first 15 minutes — the most yards the Raiders have accumulated in the first quarter of a game this season.

Stidham and the Raiders continued to loosen the 49ers’ defense until the end of the first half. Stidham capped it off with a nice four-yard fade to Davante Adams, who made a nice catch in the end zone against the tight coverage of 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward.

The 49ers entered Sunday’s game and only allowed rushing for 100 yards or more three times this season. At halftime, the Raiders had 101 yards on 20 carries.

Then the Raiders opened the second half by capitalizing on one of the 49ers’ many failed contracts in the secondary when Adams got free for a 60-yard touchdown reception.

The 49ers entered the game, allowing for NFL lows of 290.3 yards per game and 15.3 points. But the Raiders (6-10) amassed 500 total yards and may have exploited some weaknesses in the 49ers’ pass defenses.

Stidham completed 22 of 34 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.

McCaffrey surpasses Craig’s six-year mark

So much for the whole notion that the 49ers would downsize Christian McCaffrey now that the team’s playoff berth is already secured.

McCaffrey was the central figure of San Francisco’s offense Sunday as the No. 2 team in sight hit the gas pedal.

The All-Pro running back carried the ball 19 times for 121 yards and a touchdown, and also made six receptions for 72 yards.

RELATED: How Griese helped develop hard-working 49ers QB Purdy

McCaffrey got off to a hot start with a 37-yard run in a third-and-3 on the 49ers’ first drive of the game to set up a touchdown. He had a 14-yard TD run that put the 49ers to three points in the third quarter.

McCaffrey’s 38-yard catch-and-run set up Jordan Mason’s go-ahead for TD, with 2:17 remaining the rule.

His second reception of the game was the 435th of his career, to beat former 49ers star Roger Craig’s record for most receptions by a running back in his first six NFL seasons. Craig had 434 receptions in six seasons after joining the NFL in 1983.

Also in 1983, Craig became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and receive 1,000 yards. He had a league-best 92 catches for 1,016 yards.

McCaffrey joined Craig and Marshall Faulk in the exclusive 1,000-1,000 club with the Carolina Panthers in 2019 as he rushed for 1,387 yards and received 1,005 yards.