SANTA CLARA — The 49ers only put together one touchdown drive in Sunday’s intense 19-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, but it was a beauty.
Against a stout Dallas front four that got the better of the 49ers o-line throughout the evening, Brock Purdy and Co. finally got some momentum to end the third quarter. They grinded their way down to the 2-yard line before the teams switched sides to begin the fourth quarter. On the first play of the final period, Christian McCaffrey sliced through the Dallas defense untouched for the game-separating touchdown, capping off a 10-play, 91-yard drive.
The score, McCaffrey’s 13th in 13 weeks with the 49ers, wouldn’t have been possible without a stellar juggling catch by George Kittle early in the drive.
San Francisco was at its own 21-yard line when Purdy rolled out to his left and found a rare moment to breathe. Kittle initially broke off his route a few yards in front of the line of scrimmage before bolting down the middle of the field. Purdy threw him a laser and Kittle stuck out one hand, bobbling it before Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs could put a lick on him. Kittle hauled it in for a massive 31-yard grab and celebrated with his patented “Zero Miedo” hand gesture.
Naturally, Kittle joked about the magnitude of the catch after the game.
“He gave me a catchable ball and I was just trying to be dramatic,” Kittle said. “Just for TV, man. Just trying to be a little dramatic, you know, get the ratings up. That’s all we’re here for.”
Likewise, Purdy said it seemed like an eternity before Kittle finally reeled it in.
“It felt like 10 seconds of bobbling,” Purdy said. “I was like, dude, come on. But he came down with it and we were pumped.”
The 49ers also notched 38 of their 113 rushing yards on the drive, finally finding some daylight for McCaffrey and fellow running back Elijah Mitchell. The Cowboys also helped out with a third-down holding penalty in the red zone that extended the drive. But Kittle’s catch was the longest offensive play of the afternoon for the Niners.
“That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” McCaffrey said. “That’s a special player doing special things. Plays like that definitely boost momentum.”
Kittle has been an absolute monster in recent weeks, with seven touchdowns in the past six games while developing great trust with Purdy. On Sunday, the 49ers tight end hauled in five catches for a team-high 95 yards. But none were bigger than his one-hander lander.
“It got our offense going a little bit,” Kittle said. “It got our swagger going a little bit.”
After the game, Kittle ran around the south end of the stadium high-fiving 49ers fans on a victory lap. It was quite the send-off in the Levi's Stadium season finale.
With a dozen wins and running, the 49ers’ swagger will be at an all-time high entering Sunday’s NFC Championship against the Philadelphia Eagles, their third trip to the conference title game in four years.