The San Francisco 49ers blew out the Seattle Seahawks 41-23 at Levi’s Stadium to advance into the second round of the NFC Playoffs. Except for the second quarter, it was all 49ers.
San Francisco opened the game with scores on its first two offensive possessions to take a ten point. The Seahawks responded with a pair of touchdown scores in to take a 14-13 lead.
After the 49ers kicked a field goal to retake the lead, Geno Smith took off for a scramble. As the Seattle quarterback began to slide, he was hit by Jimmie Ward resulting in a personal foul on the veteran defensive back. The 15-yard penalty allowed Seattle to attempt a long field goal and take a 17-16 lead into the half.
San Francisco’s offense opened the second half with a 13 play, 75-yard drive. Brock Purdy picked up the final yard to give the 49ers a 23-17 lead.
On the ensuing Seattle drive the Seahawks moved the ball into the redzone. With Seattle threatening to score defensive lineman Charles Omenihu got to Geno Smith forcing a fumble. Nick Bosa jumped on the ball for the turnover.
San Francisco took advantage. Purdy led the offense on a long drive, hitting Elijah Mitchell with a touchdown to give the 49ers a two score lead and the route was on.
Here are five things to watch for during the game:
1.) Is Brock Purdy ready for the moment? YES
Brock Purdy did something that neither Joe Montana nor Steve Young could. The rookie became the first 49ers quarterback since at least 1980 to not record a turnover in his first playoff start.
Purdy finished the game 18-30, 332 yards, with three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground.
It was a tale of two halves for Purdy. The seventh-round draft pick looked shaky on the opening possession, missing several throws. Despite the uneven start, Purdy was able to connect with Christian McCaffrey for the 49ers lone touchdown of the first half.
The second half was a thing of beauty as Purdy hit nine of eleven pass attempts for 185 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on a one-yard sneak.
One of Purdy’s two incompletions was highlight reel worthy. The quarterback escaped pressure from his left, made a defender miss and fired a perfect pass to Brandon Aiyuk in the back corner of the end zone but the receiver was unable to hold on. Saying this play was reminiscent of Patrick Mahomes would be an understatement.
2.) Is the 49ers offensive line up to the task? YES
Aaron Banks returned to make the start at left guard leading to Spencer Burford and Daniel Brunskill splitting reps on the right side.
The San Francisco offensive line was solid, creating running lanes and protecting the quarterback throughout.
San Francisco finished with 181 yards on 33 rushing attempts, including gains of 68 and 22 yards on the opening two possessions of the game. Solid pass protection led to only three hits and one sack of Purdy.
3.) Will Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle stay hot? YES
It was another stellar performance for Christian McCaffrey as he finished with 136 total yards and a touchdown on 17 touches.
The running back opened San Francisco’s second offensive possession with a 68-yard sprint down the left sideline. Four plays later he finished it off with a three-yard touchdown reception.
Although Kittle did not reach the endzone for the first time in four weeks the tight end had a pair of big receptions for a total of 37 yards. He also caught a two-point conversion to give the 49ers a 31-17 lead.
Saturday also saw a breakout performance for Deebo Samuel. Samuel had 165 total yards and a touchdown on just nine touches. In addition to a 74-yard touchdown grab, Samuel also had a 22-yard run to help set up the 49ers first points of the game.
4.) Will the 49ers front seven force Geno Smith to beat them? YES
Kenneth Walker gave the 49ers defense trouble in the first half picking up 54 yards on 13 carries. San Francisco caught a break when Seattle went away from the run in the second half, running the ball only five times.
After completing nine of ten attempts for 104 yards in the first half, Smith struggled after the break.
With the game put more on his shoulders in the second half Smith completed just 16 of 25 passes for 136 yards, most of that coming in garbage time.
In addition to the previously mentioned strip sack by Charles Omenihu, Deommodore Lenoir also came up big for the 49ers defense. After struggling the last couple weeks Lenoir was solid in coverage including a second half interception, just the second of his career.
5.) Can the San Francisco secondary keep D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in front of them? NO
D.K. Metcalf made his first big play of the season against San Francisco when he beat Charvarius Ward on a go route down the left sideline for a 50-yard touchdown. Although he finished with 136 yards and two touchdowns on 10 receptions, Metcalf was able to get behind the 49ers defense just the one time.
Tyler Lockett did not fare as well. The receiver had six grabs for 39 yards and a long of only ten. Although he couldn’t get deep Lockett was able to move the sticks on several occasions.
Bonus question: Who wins the turnover battle? San Francisco
The forced fumble by Charles Omenihu which was recovered by Nick Bosa and Lenoir’s interception helped San Francisco improve to 23-3 since the beginning of 2021 when they don’t turn the ball over more than their opponent.
49ers 20 Seahawks 16