49ers survive late push from Seahawks to clinch NFC West title in 21-13 win in Seattle
Just like the ole’ saying goes: “Good teams find a way to win”, and the San Francisco 49ers did just that Thursday night in Seattle.
In an up-and-down game, the San Francisco 49ers defeated their rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, 21-13, clinching the NFC West title for the first time since 2019.
The Red & Gold were cooking from the start, finding the breakthrough late in the first quarter when head coach Kyle Shanahan drew up a well designed play-action pass for rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. Faking to his left and then his right, Purdy delivered a strike to tight end George Kittle down the middle, splitting the Seahawks’ defense in the process. The big pass-catcher raced on for the end-zone from 28 yards out, 7-0 San Francisco.
Unfortunately the offense struggled to find consistency after that, unable to score until the end of the half after a big hit by linebacker Dre Greenlaw jarred the ball loose from running back Travis Homer. Cornerback Charvarius ward scooped it up, taking down to Seattle’s six-yard-line.
— Alex Tran (@nineralex) December 16, 2022
Two plays later, RB Christian McCaffrey punched it in for six, 14-3 49ers.
Now in control, San Francisco capitalized on the opening kickoff of the second half. After CMC rushes for five yards, Shanahan draws up another great play that finds Kittle wide open again in the secondary. Purdy lofts the ball perfectly to his tight end, taking the ball inspired as he races past multiple defenders for the 54-yard score.
21-3 and the game seems about over.
Or at least it would have been if not for a Nick Bosa roughing-the-passer call.
Getting the pressure on QB Geno Smith all night, Bosa and the defensive line forced Seattle into a bad throw. CB Deommodore Lenoir snags the ball out of the air, racing to the end-zone to put the 49ers up by four scores.
Not so fast, as the flags come out, calling a roughing the passer on Bosa for landing on Smith after the tackle. Seattle took advantage and got three points out of the drive, making the score 21-6.
Having another chance to extend the lead late, kicker Robbie Gould missed his first PAT attempt in 15 tries midway through the fourth quarter. Letting the home side linger around, the 49ers’ stout defense suffered two lapses on the next drive, both occurring back-to-back.
First, rookie RB Kenneth Walker III breaks loose in the flat, picking up a a gain of 33 yards down the right sideline. The very next play, miscommunication between safety Talanoa Hufanga and the secondary allows Smith to find TE Noah Fant for the touchdown.
21-13 and we have a ballgame.
With the Seattle crowd roaring and the lights bright, Brock Purdy stepped up when it mattered most. Facing a third-and-one with 2:42 to go, Purdy rolls out of the pocket and scrambles for the first down, sliding in-bounds to keep the clock rolling. Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll challenged the call but it was clear, the ball crossed the line-to-gain.
— FanSided (@FanSided) December 16, 2022
All the 49ers had to do now was chew the clock. In comes rookie RB Jordan Mason.
With fresh legs, Mason converted runs of six and two yards before breaking loose for a 55-yarder, racing towards the endzone before being pushed out-of-bounds at Seattle’s two-yard-line.
Game. Set. Match.
An incredible victory in a tough environment, largely thanks to Purdy, finishing the day with 217 passing yards, two TDs and a 117 passer rating.
“He’s definitely the most poised rookie I’ve ever had,” Kyle Shanahan said postgame. “He was poised all week, even being unsure if he’d be able to go. We didn’t have any options or choices. He got comfortable and better as game went. It was pretty unbelievable.”
Unable to throw the football all week due to an oblique injury, the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft gutted it out and delivered for his team in a crucial spot. What started out as humorous has quickly changed to reality for the 49ers, Purdy is the real deal and his teammates couldn’t be more thrilled for him to get his first road win in such a pivotal spot.
“I saw it, was getting some rehab myself,” defensive lineman Arik Armstead said about his QB. “He was hurting last night and today. To gut it out and have that type of performance shows how tough he is and his character. We definitely needed that in the biggest game of the season.”
— Cam Inman (@CamInman) December 16, 2022
It wasn’t all Purdy though as defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and his defense made life hard for Smith and the Seahawks’ offense all night, holding them to less than 300 yards. Allowing 13 points Thursday night, the 49ers have held their opponents to 17 points or less in 12 of the 14 games played this season.
A historical number that represents the totality of the Red & Gold’s winning formula.
“Our defense is unbelievable. They did it through the whole game…The defense has been unbelievable all year and they’re continuing it,” Shanahan added.
Now at 10-4 on the season, the 49ers are riding a seven-game win streak, tied for tenth most all-time. Thursday’s win also means the NFC West is set, with San Francisco becoming the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season.
Locked into the three-seed at the moment, there will be at least one home playoff game in Santa Clara. But with the Minnesota Vikings only a half game up heading the weekend, more home games in January could be on the horizon.