Breaking news: San Francisco’s McCaffrey, Purdy Add To Their NFL MVP Resumes

The NFL MVP conversation is too quarterback-heavy to suit San Francisco tight end George Kittle, who has the luxury of playing with two of the top candidates.

San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson were listed as the favorites entering Week 15, but after the 49ers clinched the NFC West with a 45-29 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Kittle made a strong push for Christian McCaffrey. Perhaps even as the most deserving.

“I’ve been wanting to stand on a soap box for awhile,” Kittle said. “Quarterbacks are definitely the most important piece of a team. Everyone is talking about Purdy, everyone is talking about Dak. Brock’s doing a great job, and he deserves all the love he is getting.

“But you have a guy like Christian McCaffrey and all the things that he is doing for us in the run game and the pass game, and just absolutely elite every Sunday, scoring touchdowns. It’s pretty impressive.

“The things that him and Tyreek (Miami wide receiver Hill) are doing constantly … I don’t know how you don’t have them both in the MVP conversation. I’m all for quarterbacks winning awards. It’s an important position. You have to have Christian up there.

Kittle on McCaffrey: ‘No one in the world like him’

“He is unguardable, and he’s the most unique position in football. He’s elite, and there’s no one in the world like him.”

McCaffrey’s strength is his versatility, and the 49ers know exactly how to make the most of it. McCaffrey regularly lines up in the backfield, but he also is used in the slot and as a wide receiver. He played all three spots while gaining 187 yards from scrimmage and scoring three times Sunday.

McCaffrey had 115 yards rushing on 18 carries and caught all five passes on which he was targeted. He had two touchdown catches, and on one he beat the Cardinals’ secondary so badly coming out of the backfield that he fell down at about the 15-yard line after back-pedaling to make the catch and still had time to get up and score untouched.

He leads the league with 1,292 yards rushing and is tied with Miami running back Raheem Mostert for the lead with 20 touchdowns. McCaffrey also leads running backs with 509 yards receiving. Seven of his touchdowns have come in the 49ers’ two victories against the Cardinals.

“We look up to him and his toughness,” Purdy said. “He sets the standard and we follow his lead. He does everything. In my eyes, that’s the MVP. I’m honored (to be in the conversation). I’m trying to do my part and help our team win.

“I think we just have an MVP team overall.”

Both 49ers’ MVP candidates had big games on Purdy’s homecoming Sunday. Perry played high school football in Arizona before attending Iowa State and had his parents and a host of friends in the stadium. When Purdy went out for three plays after suffering shoulder stinger in the second quarter, a “Purdy” chant could be heard.

Purdy’s homecoming is a success

Purdy passed for 242 yards and four touchdowns, his third four-touchdown game of the season and second in three games. He entered leading the league in completion percentage, passer rating, QB rating and yards per attempt.

“It was definitely a special game for me. So cool,” he said.

San Francisco has become the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl behind McCaffrey and Purdy, who has made the journey from Mr. Irrelevant — the 262nd and final player taken in the 2022 NFL draft — to potential MVP.

The 49ers understand acutely how a championship season can unravel in one cursed moment. An injury to quarterback Purdy in the NFC title game last year doomed them in a loss to Philadelphia, and Purdy’s injury Sunday cased an uneasy moment before the 49ers understood it was simply a leg shoulder stinger.

“Just nervous,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said when he saw Purdy go to the ground after being struck by Cardinals’ linebacker Dennis Gardeck, who was penalized for roughing the passer. “When stingers happen, you never know how long it will take. Sometimes it takes throughout the week. Sometimes it takes a couple of minutes. Then I was told he was good to go

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