Let the good times roll.
That’s life on the San Francisco 49ers with the season nearly a quarter over. Winning means fun, and the 49ers are loving life with their first 4-0 record since 2019, and the fifth time in franchise history, after a 35-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday what is taking place is a carryover from last season, when the 49ers won their last 10 regular-season games and two playoff games before coming to a crashing halt against Philadelphia in the NFC Championship.
But the big difference is there has been no waiting around to get into gear. The 49ers hit the ground running, as well as passing and on defense.
“I think through our experiences we came in a little bit more ready to go to tell you the truth,” Shanahan said in his weekly conference call with local writers. “They know how last year ended and have been very excited to get this year started and you could kind of feel it right away.”
The last time the 49ers won their first four games in 2019 they wound up in the Super Bowl. The 49ers were 3-4 last year on Oct. 24 and wound up 13-4. In 2021, they were 2-4 and at a crossroads at 3-5 and needed to rally to squeak into a wild card spot at 10-7.
So dominating from the outset is a completely different feel after convincing wins over Pittsburgh, the L.A. Rams, the New York Giants and Arizona.
“That’s exactly what we talked about, starting fast,” middle linebacker Fred Warner said Sunday evening. “We didn’t need to through adversity for us to be locked in. I think the mindset was to be locked in from the start.”
Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who caught six passes or 148 yards after missing the Giants game with a shoulder injury, is reveling in the positive vibes.
“It’s a whole bunch of fun, not just on game days, but to come in and work with these guys,” Aiyuk said. “Then we get to show the world on Sundays the work we put in. We know what we’re trying to accomplish and we’re trying to find that balance of having fun with each other and getting the work in.”
The challenge for the 49ers, who along with Philadelphia are the only two unbeaten teams in the NFL, is to continue to meet the standard they’ve set through four games.
“We’ve gotten there faster, but the challenge is to keep improving because you do one of two things — get better or worse,” Shanahan said. “We’ve got to make sure we keep improving.”
49ers’ quarterback Brock Purdy threw just one incomplete pass in Sunday’s 35-16 win over Arizona at Levi’s Stadium. Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group
The Purdy factor: One of the reasons for the 49ers fast start is quarterback Brock Purdy, who has given the 49ers stability after last year’s attempt to start Trey Lance as well as the up-and-down tenure of Jimmy Garoppolo.
As well as Garoppolo played at times, he’s never had four-game numbers like Purdy’s opening act in 2023. After going 20-for-21 for 283 yards and a touchdown, Purdy leads the NFL with a 72.3 percent completion percentage, a 115.1 passer rating and a 10.0 yards per attempt average that leads the league — and yes, that includes Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, etc.
“He made all the right throws,” Shanahan said. “The O-line played well, gave him some good time, some good pockets. I thought all the (eligible receivers), tight ends, running backs, played well. I thought he was awesome yesterday.”
Aiyuk bounces back: Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had six receptions for a career-high 148 yards against Arizona after missing the Giants game with a shoulder injury, numbers that were almost lost in the shuffle of Christian McCaffrey’s four touchdowns and 177 scrimmage yards and Purdy nearly throwing the football version of a perfect game.
Aiyuk had catches of 42, 34, 25 and 20 yards. The longest play came on a downfield shot in which he outmaneuvered two defenders for a slightly underthrown ball. The rest came on perfectly placed touch passes from Purdy.
“We thought we’d get the opportunity to get a couple of shots, but not the ones we ended up hitting,” Aiyuk said. “It was different than I expected, but Kyle called a great game and we were able to exploit areas of the field they were lacking in and hit some deep balls we hadn’t hit in the past and it was pretty exciting.”
McCaffrey said Aiyuk took the previous week’s absence due to injury to heart.
“He’d probably be mad at me for saying this, but he was kind of in tears that he couldn’t suit up and play,” McCaffrey said. “To me, that meant a lot because I saw how much he wanted to be out there with us . . . he wanted to play so bad. So to come out and have the day that he did was awesome.”
— Injury updates: Running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (knee, rib) and Jauan Jennings (shin) are day-to-day, while backup offensive lineman Jon Feliciano is in the concussion protocol. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw (ankle) and cornerback Ambry Thomas (knee) were not mentioned despite recent injuries.
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— Safety Ji’Ayir Brown had a nice special teams tackle against Arizona and although he’s played just 13 defensive snaps, Shanahan likes what he sees from the 49ers’ top draft pick (No. 87 overall in the third round).
“It feels like we got the right guy, just the way he carries himself on the practice field,” Shanahan said. “He’s really owned his role, taking the backup reps at safety, and getting better at all of it. I know how much confidence (special teams coordinator) Brian Schneider has in him. He does everything the right way and a guy I’m very glad we have here.”
— Safety Talanoa Hufanga and running back James Conner of the Cardinals got into a post-game scuffle that was caught on film. Shanahan said he didn’t know what caused it.