Brock Purdy helped the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Seattle Seahawks in a Wild Card game at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday Jan 14, 2023. (San Francisco 49ers)
by Marko Ukalovic
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Believe it or not, the San Francisco 49ers once trailed in the game.
San Francisco outscored the Seattle Seahawks 25-6 in the second half as they rolled to a 41-23 blowout victory in the first game of Wild Card weekend on Saturday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers have won 11 games in a row and advanced to the division round next weekend where they will host their second playoff game with the opponent still to be determined with the outcomes of the other two Wild Card games. Seattle’s Cinderella season came to an end after they finished the regular season 9-8 and earned the final playoff berth in the NFC.
“(Winning) 11 in a row in this league is not easy to do,” said 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk about his team firing on all cylinders at the right time. “It is so tough to win any game in this league so for us to string it together like that I do feel like that we’ve hit a good stride.”
This is the first time San Francisco has beat an opponent three times in the same season.
San Francisco jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter as their number one defense forced Seattle’s offense to two consecutive three and outs to start the game.
On the 49ers second offensive possession, Christian McCaffery was the catalyst of the drive. He began it with a 68-yard run on a sweep to the left. McCaffery concluded the five play 85-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Brock Purdy, who became the first rookie quarterback in 49ers franchise history to start a playoff game.
“There was some emotion going into the game, you just feel it. Once the game started, I was like hey it’s 11 on 11, I gotta do my job. I gotta get it (the ball) to the guys when they are in space and go from there. Overall, it wasn’t ‘o my gosh we’re in the playoffs’. We just gotta play our game and let everything else fall into place,” Purdy said.
Seattle responded with a Kenneth Walker III seven-yard rushing touchdown on a drive that completed a 14 play 78-yard drive.
The 49ers settled for a 33-yard Gould field goal after 10 plays and 60-yard drive on its next possession.
Seattle answered back with a five play 71-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Geno Smith threw a deep bomb down the left sideline to DK Metcalf for a 50-yard touchdown reception. It was the Seahawks first lead in the game as they went up 14-13 with 5:01 remaining in the second quarter.
“We expected a tight game, it was a tight game,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan regarding his team’s performance in the first half. “That’s playoff football. But I expected us to score first in the second half and respond.”
Down 17-16 to start the second half, San Francisco began the third quarter with a long methodical drive. Purdy drove his team down the field before finishing off the 13 play 75-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak to regain the lead the 49ers would never relinquish.
The game changing play of the game happened on Seattle’s next drive. With the Seahawks deep into 49ers territory, Charles Omenihu stripped Smith of the ball on a sack that was recovered by Nick Bosa at the 49ers 30-yard line for the game’s first turnover.
“It was a huge play; it changed the momentum of the game. They (Seattle) were in field goal territory, so for us to get that turnover, it was a game changer. We were up by six (points). If they make that field goal, they get momentum (back). It was a big play at the right time,” 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw said.
San Francisco capitalized on the turnover with a seven play 70-yard drive when Purdy on a play action pass to Mitchell for a 7-yard touchdown reception. Purdy connected with Kittle on the two-point conversion for a 31-17 lead.
The 49ers drove the steak right through the heart of the Seahawks when Purdy connected with Deebo Samuel on a play action roll out that resulted in a 74-yard touchdown reception down the sideline where Brandon Aiyuk delivered the key block on the play.
“We’re a two seed for a reason. We know we just have to go out there and play our game. I think we scored on all of our drives in the first half besides one we had a three and out. Our defense said ‘hey we’re going to tighten up, we’re going to get some turnovers.’ They did exactly what they said they were going to do. And when our defense gets turnovers, our offense scores points. And that’s why we’re so good,” Kittle said.
San Francisco’s defense created its second turnover when Deommodore Lenoir intercepted a pass from intended for Tyler Lockett and returned it to the Seahawks 37-yard line.
Seattle closed out the scoring with 1:48 remaining in the fourth quarter when Smith connected with Metcalf for a three-yard touchdown.
Purdy, who played his best game as a starter, finished the game with 18 of 30 for 332 yards and three touchdowns to go with his four overall touchdown performance, no interceptions and a QB rating of 131.5. Samuel had one of his best performances of the season with six catches for 133 yards and one touchdown to go along with 32 rushing yards on three carries.
McCaffery had another dominating performance in the trenches as he led all rushers with 119 yards on 15 carries while chipping in two receptions for 17 yards and one touchdown.
Smith went 25 of 35 for 253 yards with two touchdowns and one interception with a QB rating of 98.9. Metcalf led all receivers with 10 catches for 136 yards to go along with his two touchdowns. Walker III chipped in 63 yards on the ground in 15 carries.
GAME NOTES: San Francisco finished the game 6-for-11 on third down conversions. Seattle was 6-for-13.
UP NEXT: San Francisco hosts a Divisional Playoff game on either Saturday 1/21 or Sunday 1/22. Team and time TBD.