Observations of 49-year-olds. Christian McCaffrey adds overtime win vs. Raiders

LAS VEGAS — The 49ers didn’t exactly start the new year the same way they closed out 2022.

But after eight straight wins, this could be the kind of game the 49ers needed to get them fully prepared for the pressure of the NFL playoffs.

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

Robbie Gould made up for the missed attempt late in regulation with a 23-yard field goal that came after a Tashawn Gipson interception and 56-yard return. Gould’s shot came with 6:53 left in the 10-minute overtime period.

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

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

Purdy is facing NFL adversity for the first time

The 49ers haven’t trailed in any of Purdy’s first three starts. What came from his fourth start was his first come-from-behind win.

When Purdy entered the Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins, the 49ers were down 7-3. They took the lead on Purdy’s first drive and didn’t trail on any play after that.

That changed against the Raiders.

Late in regulation, he ran down the field to Brandon Ayuck for 12, 18, 11 and 11 yards. Kicker Robbie Gould missed a 41-yard field goal attempt, however, as time expired in regulation.

Purdy completed 22 of 35 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. And he was in control when the 49ers drove 75 yards on five plays for the go-ahead TD, which running back Jordan Mason scored on a 14-yard run.

The 49ers fell behind 24-14 in the third quarter, forcing Purdy to play catch-up. And with the 49ers still trailing in the third quarter, Purdy’s deep pass to George Kittle was intercepted by Raiders defensive back Amyk Robertson.

But the 49ers got the ball back shortly after a Drake Jackson interception and settled for a Gould field goal that tied the game at 24 with 12 minutes to play.

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

Tough day for the NFL’s best defense

This was thought to be a mismatch.

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

The bottom line was that Raiders coach Josh McDaniels was folding with two games to play. But it certainly didn’t seem that way at first.

Stidham, making the first start of his four-year NFL career, played well until Gipson’s interception in overtime. Nick Bosa forced a bad throw with pressure.

The 49ers entered the game allowing a league-low average of 290.3 yards per game. Las Vegas put up 134 yards after the first 15 minutes, the most yards the Raiders have gained in the first quarter of a game this season.

Stidham and the Raiders continued to unravel the 49ers defense until the end of the first half. Stidham broke it off with a nice 4-point fade to Davante Adams, who made a nice catch in the end zone against 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward’s tight coverage.

The 49ers entered Sunday’s game having allowed 100 yards or more rushing just three times this season. The Raiders had 101 yards on 20 carries at halftime.

Then, the Raiders opened the second half by taking advantage of one of many assignments in the 49ers’ secondary, as Adams broke free for a 60-yard touchdown reception.

The 49ers entered the game allowing an NFL-low 290.3 yards per game and 15.3 points. But the Raiders (6-10) put up 500 yards and could use some vulnerabilities with the 49ers’ pass defense.

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

McCaffrey tops Craig’s six-year mark

So much for the whole idea that the 49ers will reduce the use of Christian McCaffrey because the team’s playoff spot is already secured.

McCaffrey was the centerpiece of San Francisco’s offense Sunday as the team hit the accelerator with the No. 2 seed in its sights.

The All-Pro running back carried the ball 19 times for 121 yards and one touchdown and had six receptions for 72 yards.

CONTACT: How the Griz helped the development of studious 49ers QB Purdy

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

McCaffrey’s 38-yard catch-and-run set up Jordan Mason’s touchdown run with 2:17 left in regulation.

His second reception of the game was the 435th of his career, surpassing former 49ers star Roger Craig’s mark for a touchdown in his first six NFL seasons. Craig had 434 receptions in 6 seasons since entering the NFL in 1983.

Also in 1983, Craig became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and have 1,000 receiving 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 in 2019 with the Carolina Panthers when he rushed for 1,387 yards and had 1,005 yards.

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