49ers Win Wild Card Round!

The 49ers are on to the Divisional round of the playoffs.  At the end of the first half, 49ers fans were wondering what the deal was.  The Seahawks had managed back-to-back touchdown drives.  Then, after driving for a field goal, Coach Shanahan calls a squib kick with 13 seconds left in the half.  The ball was returned to the 38-yard line, alarming all of us.  Then, Geno Smith runs for a first down, slides and Jimmy Ward commits a bone headed penalty hitting Geno while he slid drawing a personal foul penalty.  Wards gaffe allowed the Seahawks to kick a 56-yard field goal and go ahead by two points as the teams went into the locker room.


Jittery Start

The Niners started the game well, going up 10 – 0, despite Brock Purdy having a bit of the jitters under center.  Then the Seahawks started playing ball control.  Their first touchdown drive was 13 plays and seven minutes.  The Seahawks second touchdown drive ended on their fifth play with a 50-yard pass play to D.K. Metcalf.  The Seahawks were starting to click.  Both squads traded punts and then Brock Purdy went to work on the next 49ers scoring drive.  He had a minute to play with and he used it well.  He hit Brandon Aiyuk for a 31-yard gain and a few plays later he connected with Deebo Samuel for another 18 yards.  Ultimately the Seahawks defense held firm forcing a 46-yard field goal.  The last 13 seconds of the half have already been discussed.

Brock Purdy only connected 9 of his 19 passes in the first half.  In the first quarter, he was stepping up in the pocket well, finding and connecting with his receivers.  In the second quarter, the Seahawks figured out how to flush him and make him uncomfortable.  Purdy threw at least five passes away to avoid sacks.  He needed to settle down a bit and just play his game.  I am sure that is what Coach Shanahan told him at half time.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Offensive Symmetry

The beauty of the 49ers offensive game comes from the symmetry between the run and the pass game.  Opposing teams know that the 49ers have an effective run game.  Most teams figure if they can stop the run then they have a chance with defeating Purdy.  Defenses usually roll out a single high safety look and put eight in the box.  The 49ers still find ways to run on that look.  More importantly they play action out of that look catching defenses unaware on deep overs and in-cutting routes.  That is exactly what happened in the second half.


Second Half Dominance

The 49ers came out in the second half starting with the ball.  They ran the ball effectively setting up two explosive pass plays to George Kittle and Deebo Samuel.  Purdy eventually pounded the rock into the end-zone for a touchdown.

The Seahawks got the ball and started an effective drive.  They methodically moved down the field to the 49ers 19-yard line and suddenly the defense came awake.  On 3rd and 14, Charles Omenihu hit Geno Smith, forcing a fumble which was covered up by Nick Bosa.  The 49ers offense took over.  When they drove to the Seahawks 40-yard line, Purdy took the snap on a 2nd and 11 and ripped the ball down the sideline to Juan Jennings for a 33-yard gain.  Two plays later Purdy was flushed out of the pocket, and he found Elijah Mitchell in the flat who ran it in 7 yards for the touchdown.  Purdy then hit Kittle for the two-point conversion.  The offense was finally feeling themselves and it was good.

San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25) scores against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

During their next offensive possession, Purdy hit Deebo on an 11-yard pass, and he ran it 63 yards down the sideline for a 74-yard touchdown play.  The cool thing about that play is that Purdy booted to his off shoulder and ripped the throw to Deebo with a defender in his face.  The rest of the team ran down field blocking for Deebo.  It was awesome watching Aiyuk blocking pro bowl corner Tariq Woolen down field so Deebo could score.

On the next play Deommodore Lenoir’s hard work paid off when he intercepted Geno Smith.  He was guarding Tyler Lockett, and when Lockett stemmed to the sideline, Lenoir stepped in front of him and snagged his first playoff interception.  Coach DeMeco Ryans told Lenoir his time would come and it did.


All Star Roster

Coach Shanahan has a bunch of rockstars to work with on offense.  Everyone contributed to the win today.  George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Kyle Juszczyk and Brock Purdy.  McCaffrey led the team in rushing with 119 yards and Deebo led the team in receiving with 133 yards and a touchdown, followed closely by Aiyuk’s 73 yards.  Purdy is a baller.  He accounted for four total touchdowns and almost a fifth.  On a third downplay he strung the play out as long as he could hitting Aiyuk in the hands in the corner of the end-zone, but Aiyuk couldn’t haul it in.  Still, it was a heckuva play to watch.  Purdy finished the day with over 300 yards passing.

On defense, the 49ers secured two turnovers, and three sacks.  Interior defensive lineman Arik Armstead and Charles Omenihu made life very difficult on Geno Smith.  Nick Bosa played the run and set the edge extremely well.  Mooney Ward had a tough game guarding Metcalf but he kept his head up and continued to battle Metcalf in the second half tipping away a would be touchdown.  Overall, it was an excellent defensive effort despite giving up 23 points.

The playoffs are tough.  Today’s game was more difficult because these two teams know each other well.  It was their third match up this season.  The Niners struggled in the first half but put it all together in the second half.  The Niners wear teams out.  Add scheme, and a deep talented roster, and that is a tough formula to beat.  Now we wait and see who the Niners will welcome to Levi’s Stadium next week.






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