3 Takeaways from 49ers’ Week 16 Win vs. Commanders


3 Takeaways from 49ers’ Week 16 Win vs. Commanders

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    49ers QB Brock Purdy

    49ers QB Brock PurdyDouglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers continue to be hotter than any team in football, and on Saturday, they picked up a huge win over the Washington Commanders.

    It was a complete performance by San Francisco, which dominated on both sides of the ball.

    While San Francisco wasn’t particularly great rushing the ball (3.3 yards per carry) aside from a 71-yard Ray-Ray McCloud III touchdown run, it did enough against a good Commanders defensive front. Quarterback Brock Purdy was efficient once again, and the defense forced multiple mistakes, ultimately leading to the benching of Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke.

    It marked the eighth straight win for the 49ers, who have already locked up the NFC West and remain in play for one of the conference’s top two seeds—behind the 13-2 Philadelphia Eagle and 12-3 Minnesota Vikings.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from San Francisco’s Week 16 win over the Commanders.

Brock Purdy Continues to Show That He’s Ready for the Moment

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    Brock Purdy

    Brock PurdyThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    If you’re not a 49ers fan, you may be getting sick of hearing about Purdy. However, it’s hard not to come away from Saturday’s game and not be impressed with the rookie quarterback.

    Purdy did toss an interception, but for the fourth time in as many weeks, Mr. Irrelevant showed that the NFL game isn’t too big for him. On the contrary, Purdy keeps showing that he’s ready to seize the moment and run with it.

    Against Washington, Purdy had to do it without a ton of help from the ground game. McCloud opened up the scoring with his big run, but Christian McCaffrey averaged a modest 3.1 yards per carry on the day.

    It was often up to Purdy and the passing game to move the ball, and they did exactly that and did so efficiently. The seventh-rounder out of Iowa State finished 15-of-22 for 234 yards. He tossed a pair of touchdown passes for the fourth time this season.

    This was a high-stakes game, as the 49ers are trying to earn at least the No. 2 seed while the Commanders are battling for their playoff lives. The pressure isn’t affecting the Arizona native, even if his oblique injury is.

    “He’s definitely not 100 percent,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said, per David Bonilla of 49ers Webzone.

    Purdy is showing both the poise and the grit needed to lead San Francisco deep into the postseason, and the 49ers should feel very good about their playoff chances with him under center.

Nick Bosa Should Be the Front-Runner for Defensive Player of the Year

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    49ers edge-rusher Nick Bosa

    49ers edge-rusher Nick BosaThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Purdy wasn’t the only star during Saturday’s win. On the other side of the ball, pass-rusher Nick Bosa was a force, finishing with seven tackles, four quarterback hits and two sacks. He had a key fourth-down stop in the third quarter that led to a 49ers touchdown two plays later.

    Bosa and the 49ers defense took over the game for stretches, and Bosa probably took over the Defensive Player of the Year race in the process.

    With all due respect to defenders like Micah Parsons, Matt Judon, Myles Garrett and Haason Reddick, Bosa has been on a different level. The 25-year-old leads the NFL with 17.5 sacks, two more than Judon, who ranks No. 2.

    Bosa has also amassed 48 tackles, two forced fumbles, 18 tackles for loss and a whopping 49 quarterback pressures. That’s only three fewer pressures than T.J. Watt had during last year’s record-tying 22.5-sack, DPOY-winning season.

    No one is wrecking offensive game plans right now quite like Bosa. He played a huge role in Saturday’s win, and he’ll be a major factor when it comes playoff time.

Momentum Could Be a Huge Playoff Factor for the 49ers

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    49ers TE George Kittle

    49ers TE George KittleDouglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Here’s another potential factor for the 49ers heading into the postseason: momentum. There’s something to be said for riding high into the playoffs instead of backing in or having little to play for over the final few weeks.

    Just consider that both of last year’s No. 1 seeds—the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers—fell flat and lost in the divisional round.

    Do not expect San Francisco to lose focus heading into the postseason, even if it can’t claim one of the top seeds in the NFC. While the 49ers may have already guaranteed themselves one home playoff game, they’re keeping their eyes on the ultimate prize.

    “Even if the Eagles and Vikings win out and we’re still the three seed, I want to win all three games because then we’re hot going into the playoffs,” tight end George Kittle said before Saturday’s victory, per The Athletic’s David Lombardi.

    Over the past few weeks, San Francisco has played like a more complete team than either the Eagles or the Vikings. Expect the 49ers to keep up their intensity over the final two weeks and to push into the postseason with the intensity and confidence of a true Super Bowl contender.

    Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.

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