It was a Christmas Eve commanding victory, as the San Francisco 49ers beat the Washington Commanders, 37-20, to extend their win streak to eight and improve to 11-4. And with a little help, the NFC West champs may just get to that No. 2 playoff seed (they’re currently the No. 3).
It was the first game of Brock Purdy’s young career in which he saw some struggles, but they mainly came in the game’s first half, where Purdy was 4-of-9 for 55 yards and one interception. That being said, the interception when wide receiver Jauan Jennings tipped a well-thrown Purdy pass into the waiting arms of Washington safety Darrick Forrest. These things happen, and Purdy wasn’t fazed.
“I’m super impressed with how he’s matured so quickly and I think it helps that he started four years in college,” said pass rusher Nick Bosa. “For a rookie to come in and have that command, everybody’s got his back obviously.”
The 49ers went into the half tied, 7-7.By the second half, the Brock Star returned, finishing the day 15-of-22 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He also became the first rookie QB to win his first three starts since 1950.
“He’s done a great job,” said wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. “I think he’s the same guy that we’ve seen the past three weeks. He was that same guy again today. At this point we, we know exactly who he is. Nobody’s surprised anymore. We know who Brock Purdy is. He came out, played a great game, controlled the offense controlled the huddle, controlled the game. We got out with a ‘W’ game.”
The George Kittle Game
The People’s Tight End had himself a day, with George Kittle finishing with six receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
He could have had a third, but the Iowa State-alum Purdy quipped, “I’m extremely fortunate to have him by my side and wish I would’ve had him catch that third touchdown. I threw it a little short, but just can’t get a [University of Iowa] Hawkeye, too many touchdowns in the game.”
And in fairness, Kittle did usurp a touchdown on a route intended for wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud.
“He’s playing great right now in the run and pass game and it was awesome to get him some balls and even the one he intercepted from Ray-Ray was pretty cool too,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “…Kittle was supposed to go across the field. Ray-Ray was supposed to run a post. The middle of the field was wide open. Kittle’s natural reaction was to go to wide open spots and I think that’s probably why Brock hesitated a quick second because it just looked weird with two guys there, but he still let a rip and I’m just glad that Ray-Ray didn’t try to intercept it from him at that time.”
Purdy was asked who he was targeting on that pass: “Ray-Ray,” he said with a smile.
All’s fair in love and war and football and Christmas.
“I grinched it,” Kittle said. “…When [McCloud] came up on it and when he got over my shoulder, I thought it was a safety trying to get the ball out and it actually scared me and then he was in my ear going ‘You stole my touchdown’ I was like, ‘ah, my bad’, but not really.”
All kidding aside, Kittle and Purdy have developed a strong connection over the last several weeks, as the rookie QB has a lot of trust in the veteran tight end. The first drive of the second half ended in the aforementioned Kittle touchdown. Two drives later, Purdy to Kittle again for a 34-yarder that gave the 49ers a 21-14 lead.
“He makes my job easy,” Purdy said of Kittle “He wins the man-to-man matchups. Obviously like his speed and everything, you just get the dude the ball, he’ll take off. Like George is extremely explosive, more than people think. And he does a great job with the yards after the catch. And so that’s where my mindset’s at is alright, whatever play we have drawn up, I’m going to go through my progression, but I know that if I get the ball to George, it could be explosive.”
Speaking of Ray-Ray McCloud, the Pro Bowl-alternate did an excellent Deebo Samuel impression in the second quarter, when he took a Jet sweep and ran for a 71-yard touchdown.
“This week, Kyle said, ‘You got to do better than Deebo,'” McCloud said. “Those are the exact words he used in the meeting. Me and Dee, that’s like my brother, so it’s always a competitive thing. My number was called and I wanted to make a play. It’s not me making a play, honestly. It was the lineman, the front. [RB] Christian [McCaffrey] making his block, [RT] Mike [McGlinchey] pancaking his dude and [WR] Willie Snead sealing the edge. I think anybody in that position of getting the ball would make the same play and we put points on the board.”
Shanahan used the opportunity to tease Samuel, who has been sidelined with a knee sprain and an ankle sprain, over the play.
“It was fun to install it because I could mess with Deebo last night…,” Shanahan said. “When I installed it, I said, knowing Deebo was in the back, ‘This run has looked bad all year, but now we have the right guy on it, so I have a feeling this is going to score,’ and I was definitely being sarcastic, but it was really fun to look for Deebo when it did hit like that.'”
Pass rusher Nick Bosa continued, and frankly may have sealed, his case of Defensive Player of the Year with another incredible performance on Saturday. There were the two sacks, including a strip sack and a sack of Carson Wentz on a two-point conversion attempt (the latter doesn’t count towards stats but it does count for effective defense).
“I feel like I have an answer for every type of blocker at this point, some better than others, obviously, but it’s going well,” Bosa said.
Kittle has said before that Bosa is the best player in the NFL, and he echoed it today.
“You guys believe me yet?” said Kittle. “He’s better than everybody else. He’s a better athlete. He’s stronger. He’s faster, I think today secured his Defensive MVP. I don’t know how it doesn’t.”
Kittle went on to say he believes Bosa should be in the conversation for league MVP as well.
“It’s insane the level he’s playing at,” said linebacker Fred Warner. “That’s a big reason why our defense is performing the way it is…[W]e know that it takes all 11, the rush and the coverage work together, and knowing that he’s on the field and has that opportunity to get home, you get stickier in coverage and you’re able to sit on routes and he’s just been playing out of his mind.”
Bosa’s second sack – the strip sack- came in the fourth quarter, with the 49ers up, 24-14. He took down Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke and forced the fumble. Jordan Willis recovered said fumble and the 49ers eventually got three points out of it.
“I don’t know what he can’t do,” nickel corner Jimmie Ward. “It’s hard for opposing offenses to stop him. They try to chip him all the time. I have to also give credit to his other fellow mates that play the D-line, because they are getting off too and there’s a lot of sacks in that room and it helps the back end. It helps the second level players and the third level players.”
And with that, the 49ers have Christmas Day off and then it’s back to work to prepare of the Las Vegas Raiders on New Year’s Day.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!