SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Three Takeaways from the 49ers’ win over the Commanders

Dec 26, 2022, 11:00 AM | Updated: Dec 27, 2022, 10:54 am

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after forcing a fumble during the fourth quarter in...

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 24: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after forcing a fumble during the fourth quarter in the game against the Washington Commanders at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers game their fans a little bit more to feel merry about this holiday season, taking down the Washington Commanders, 37-20, on Christmas Eve.

In a game that had lots of ups and downs, the better side seemingly prevailed in the end. Week 16’s win increased the team’s current winning streak to eight, seventh most in franchise history. And with two more games to go on the schedule, the 49ers could hit double digits by the start of the playoffs. 

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s reflect on what the Red & Gold did to end the 2022 calendar year.

Nick Bosa for DPOY

If there was ever a debate over who would be winning the NFL’s defensive player of the year award in 2022, DE Nick Bosa may have just slammed the door.

The 25-year-old pass rusher was all over the line of scrimmage Saturday against the Commanders, posting a season-high seven tackles, including two that were in the backfield. He also added two more sacks to his season total, equaling to a league-leading 17.5 on the year. 

While the NFL record of 22.5 sacks shared by Michael Strahan and T.J. Watt is still in play, Bosa has his eyes set on the franchise’s record, first and foremost.

“Maybe. It’s not the main thing on my mind, but I’m kind of eyeing [Aldon Smith’s 19.5 sack record] more than that,” Bosa said postgame. 

A wrecking ball of a man, the B0sa Bear could have ended up with even more sacks if not for the league’s ruling on two-point conversions. He also came mightily close in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Carson Wentz somehow got the football out of his hands before his knee hit the grass. Both would-be sacks could have increased Bosa’s season total to 19.5, then the record wouldn’t seem so daunting. 

Nevertheless, it was another day at the office for the dominant defensive player, both in the passing and running game. And with two more regular season games to go, don’t surprised to see more eye-popping plays as he goes for his first DPOY.

“I think today secured his defensive MVP,” tight end George Kittle said Saturday. “I don’t know how it doesn’t. If you look at what he does every Sunday compared to everyone else around the league whether it’s offense or defense, I don’t know why he’s not in the MVP conversation, too…Every single day he’s just an absolute monster. All the sacks, they’re earned and deserved. He’s fantastic. He’s never not good.”

A Purdy impressive bounce-back

Christmas Eve started off a little rocky for the 49ers on offense, only scoring seven points in the first half of Week 16.

Saturday was the first time in three starts that rookie quarterback Brock Purdy and the offense looked out-of-sync. Sluggish in the play calls, committing unnecessary false starts or holding calls, and not able keep the unit on the field for more than a few random moments of success in the first 30 minutes. 

If not for a wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud end around to the house in the first quarter, the Red & Gold could have found themselves trailing at the intermission. In fact, Washington finished the game with more seven minutes more of possession than the home team Saturday.

Safe to say, the 49ers played one of their worst halves of football on the current winning streak, leaving many frustrated in the locker room.

“I was frustrated after the game, but our guys played pretty well too, so I had mixed emotions,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said postgame. “I’m a perfectionist as a coach should be, but I was real frustrated in the first half. I thought we came out and played great on defense. I thought we were doing pretty good on offense too. I thought we had some penalties that really hurt us down there in the first half. I thought we had that drop that really hurt us in the first half. Just a couple things where I really believed it should have been 21-0 in the first half coming in.

“I think it’s always a challenge when you drive the ball and you know that you’re having success against a team and then you’re not putting up points and then your defense is creating momentum, getting stops, and then we’re stalling on our end. So those are things that yeah, are a little frustrating,” Purdy added as well.

But true to their season, the 49ers came out on fire to score 30 points in the second half.

Purdy finished the day with two second half touchdowns, 234 passing yards and a 114.6 passer rating. He also threw one interception that came off the hands of WR Jauan Jennings in the first half. His two TDs went to Kittle (we’ll break down his big day shortly), lobbing a beautiful dime to the tight end from 33 yards out in the third quarter. His next TD throw came on a play-action bootleg to the left, hitting Kittle underneath for him to chew up some YAC on the way to the endzone. 

His day wasn’t perfect like Week 15 in Seattle, but the Iowa State rookie has been the spark this 49ers offense needed, hitting guys in stride and on-time over the last month.

“I’m super impressed with how he’s matured so quickly and I think it helps that he started four years in college. For a rookie to come in and have that command, everybody’s got his back obviously,” Bosa said about Mr. Irrelevant.

Purdy broke a few records Saturday afternoon, becoming the second QB since 1950 to throw for multiple TDs with a 100-plus passer rating in each of his first three career starts. The only other: His idol, hall-of-famer Dan Marino. The Arizona native also became the first QB to throw for two or more TDs, and win his first three starts, since Kurt Warner in 1999.

Some elite company for the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft, looking to take this momentum into the postseason for a chance at playing in the Super Bowl LVII, held in Glendale, AZ in February.

George Kittle is back to being a TE1

Speaking of Kittle, the Iowa Hawkeye stole the Christmas spirit from the Washington Commanders Saturday afternoon. 

Fresh off another Pro Bowl selection, the “People’s Tight End” broke out for six catches, 120 yards and two TDs on Christmas Eve. The funny part: The first one wasn’t suppose to go to him. 

Asked to run a crossing route on the play, Kittle recognized the open space behind the safeties in the end-zone mid-play. He vacated his route for a streak, meeting up with McCloud downfield, who was running a post route. Thankfully, Purdy show the two open men and lofted a perfect ball for one of them to grab, which in this case was Kittle.

Asked about the play postgame, the tight end was all smiles, throwing in a little holiday vernacular to explain himself.

“Why? Because I grinched it?” Kittle said with a big smile postgame. “No, I think I’ve had five touchdowns taken away from penalties, so I’m going to get them whenever they’re available.”

Kittle has been on fire the last two weeks, posting 213 yards receiving, four TDs and 55.3 PPR fantasy points for all of your playoff pushes.

Felt as an afterthought in the offense halfway through the season, the Iowa Hawkeye has come. back to life for the holidays, showing why he’s so important for the 49ers.

“I think he just, he makes my job easy, he wins the man-to-man matchups,” Purdy said about his tight end. “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 an explosive.”

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