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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers ride big plays, lopsided second half to 37-20 win over Commanders

Dec 24, 2022 at 4:22 PM--

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
WAS 0 7 7 6 20
SF 0 7 14 16 37

What started out as a low-scoring affair between two of the top defenses in the NFL turned into a lopsided win for the San Francisco 49ers, who rode a series of big plays to a 30-point second half in a 37-20 win over the Washington Commanders at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Saturday.

The 49ers and Commanders were tied at 7 at halftime, then the 49ers used chunk plays on offense and turnovers from their defense to pull away from the Commanders and notch their eighth consecutive victory. Quarterback Brock Purdy finished with 234 yards on 15-of-22 passing with two touchdowns and one interception for the 49ers, while Taylor Heinicke completed 13-of-18 passes for 166 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one lost fumble before being pulled in favor of Carson Wentz. Tight end George Kittle had a standout day for the 49ers, catching six passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

First Half

The 49ers held the Commanders to a three-and-out to start the game, then took over at their own 35-yard line following a Commanders punt. The 49ers then moved to the Commanders' 15-yard line in nine plays before turning the ball over on downs on a failed fourth down pitch from fullback Kyle Juszczyk to running back Christian McCaffrey but responded by forcing another three-and-out to regain possession.

An unnecessary roughness call on Commanders safety Percy Butler during the punt set the 49ers up at the 50-yard line to start their second possession, but the Commanders forced a three-and-out and took over at their own 15 after a 49ers punt. The Commanders then put together a 17-play, 84-yard drive that took over ten minutes off the game clock but didn't result in any points after the 49ers stopped the drive with a goal line stand. The Commanders faced a 1st-and-Goal from the 5-yard line during the drive, then had two chances from the 1-yard line after a four-yard run by Brian Robinson on second down, but the 49ers stuffed Robinson on third down before stopping a fourth-down run by Antonio Gibson to force a turnover on downs with 9:32 remaining in the half.

The 49ers were able to turn the next possession into the first points of the game due in large part to a big play from wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud. The 49ers got a clutch conversion on a 3rd-and-9 pass from Purdy to wide receiver Jauan Jennings on the fifth play of the drive, then two plays later McCloud took a handoff around the right side and outran the defense for a 71-yard. McCaffrey was among those clearing a path for McCloud, who raced down the sideline untouched to give the 49ers a 7-0 lead.

The Commanders took over at their own 40-yard line after Robbie Gould booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, but the 49ers forced a punt after five plays to take over at their own 14-yard line with just over three minutes left in the half. But on the first play of their possession, a pass from Purdy bounced out of the arms of Jennings and was intercepted by safety Darrick Forrest, giving the Commanders the ball at the 49ers' 31-yard line.

The interception turned into a touchdown for the Commanders after an eight-play drive that saw them convert two third downs, including a 3rd-and-14 they were able to convert after a first down sack by defensive end Nick Bosa. With 22 seconds left in the half, Heinicke found rookie wide receiver Jahan Dotson in the back corner of the end zone to finish the drive and tie the game at 7-7.

The 49ers ran out the clock from there to finish what was a fairly quick first half. The Commanders' ten-minute-plus drive led them to dominate the first half in time of possession (20:12 to 9:48), but the McCloud touchdown gave the 49ers an edge in total yardage (149-132) and put them at an average of 7.1 yards per play to 3.7 from the Commanders.

Second Half

The 49ers opened the second half with possession and quickly used another splash play to take a 14-7 lead, this one coming on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to Kittle. The 49ers started the drive at their own 24 and used short runs and passes to move downfield, then Purdy found Kittle wide open on a 3rd-and-4 play for his first touchdown pass of the game.

The teams traded three-and-outs after the touchdown, then the 49ers got big plays from their defense and offense en route to opening up a 21-7 lead. First came a fourth down stop from the defense, who stuffed a running attempt from Heinicke to take possession at the Commanders' 34-yard line. Then on the second play of the following possession, Purdy connected on a short completion to Kittle, who took off across the field for his second touchdown of the game, this one from 33 yards out.

The Commanders answered quickly due in large part to two big catches from wide receiver Terry McLaurin. After starting their drive at their own 25-yard line, Heinicke connected with Dotson for an 18-yard gain, then found McLaurin for a 51-yard completion to the 49ers' 6. Two plays later, Heinicke connected with McLaurin from three yards out for his second touchdown pass, cutting the 49ers' lead to 21-14 late in the third quarter.

The 49ers got another big play to start their next drive when Purdy connected with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for a 54-yard gain on first down to the Commanders' 6-yard line. But the 49ers moved backwards from there, as after a one-yard run from McCaffrey on 1st-and-Goal, Purdy ran out of bounds for a four-yard loss on second down, then a false start penalty on right tackle Mike McGlinchey pushed the 49ers back further on third down. The 49ers settled for a 26-yard field goal from Gould at the start of the fourth quarter to stretch their lead to 24-14.

The 49ers' defense kept the big plays coming after the field goal, starting with another sack from Bosa. Heinicke dropped back to pass on the second play of the possession following the field goal and was hit by Bosa, who knocked the ball into the air and into the arms of defensive lineman Jordan Willis. The 49ers were held to another field goal (23 yards) after the turnover, extending their lead to 27-14.

Next in line for the 49ers was defensive back Jimmie Ward, who intercepted Heinicke on the second play of the next possession. Ward appeared to have run the ball into the end zone after his interception but was called down after a replay, giving the 49ers the ball at the Commanders' 25-yard line. The 49ers added yet another field goal from Gould, this one from 35 yards to open up a 30-14 lead.

Wentz entered the game at quarterback in place of Heinicke on the next possession and led an 11-play, 82-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Curtis Samuel. The Commanders went for two after the touchdown but failed after Bosa sacked Wentz, leaving the score at 30-20.

The Commanders attempted an onsides kick after the touchdown that failed to travel ten yards, giving the 49ers possession at the Commanders' 33-yard line. The 49ers used that field position to ice the game with an eight-play, 33-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run from McCaffrey for a 37-20 lead. Purdy found Kittle for a 10-yard gain on fourth down on the previous play, then McCaffrey ran up the middle for the score to put the game out of reach with just over two minutes remaining.

The Commanders put together a 52-yard drive to finish the game but failed to put points on the board before time expired. The 49ers moved to 11-4 on the season with the win, while the Commanders fell to 7-7-1.

Notes: Saturday's win marks the first time since 2019 the 49ers have had a winning streak of eight or more games. Only six streaks in franchise history have been longer, with the longest (15) coming in 1989-1990... According to NFL research, Purdy on Saturday became just the second quarterback since 1950 to start his career 3-0 with multiple touchdown passes in each game. The other is Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner... The 49ers entered the game with a 21-12-2 all-time edge over the Commanders but had lost five of the last seven games in the series... Two former first-round picks made their return to action on Saturday after long absences due to injury. Commanders defensive end Chase Young made his season debut after tearing the ACL and patellar tendon in his right knee in Week 10 of the 2021 season, while 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw played for the first time since Week 3 due to knee issues... Next up for the 49ers is a road matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders on New Year's Day (4:05 p.m. ET/1:05 p.m. PT, FOX). That game will be the regular season road finale for the 49ers, who will then wrap up the season at home on January 8 against the Arizona Cardinals. The Commanders will be at home next Sunday for a game against the Cleveland Browns (1 p.m. ET, FOX).

WAS Team Stats SF
270 Passing Yards 218
79 Rushing Yards 153
349 Total Yards 371
8.5 Avg Yards per Pass 10.64
2.39 Avg Yards per Run 5.88
1 Fumbles Lost 0
1 Int Thrown 1
2 Sacks Allowed 3
00:33:35 Time of Pos 00:26:25
6 Penalties 4

Commanders Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Taylor Heinicke 13/18 166 2 1
Carson Wentz 12/16 123 1 0
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Jonathan Williams 3 13 4.3 0
Antonio Gibson 5 10 2 0
Curtis Samuel 1 2 2 0
Taylor Heinicke 2 -4 -2 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Terry McLaurin 4 5 77 1
Curtis Samuel 5 5 52 1
Logan Thomas 6 8 35 0
Jonathan Williams 2 3 28 0
Antonio Gibson 2 3 21 0
Fumbles Fum Lost
Taylor Heinicke 1 1
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Tress Way 4 48 1 62
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Dax Milne 54 18 0 19
Antonio Gibson 39 13 0 18
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Dax Milne 1 4 0 4
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Jamin Davis 6-2 0 0 0
Jeremy Reaves 5-3 0 0 0
David Mayo 4-5 0 0 0
Daron Payne 4-0 1 0 0
Darrick Forrest 3-1 0 1 0
Benjamin St-Juste 3-1 1 0 0
Jonathan Allen 2-4 0 0 0
Bobby McCain 1-1 0 0 0
Danny Johnson 1-1 0 0 0
Chase Young 1-1 0 0 0
Efe Obada 1-0 0 0 0
Jonathan Williams 1-0 0 0 0
James Smith-Williams 1-0 1 0 0

49ers Player Stats
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Ray-Ray McCloud 1 71 71 1
Christian McCaffrey 15 46 3.1 1
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
George Kittle 6 8 120 2
Brandon Aiyuk 5 7 81 0
Jauan Jennings 2 3 21 0
Christian McCaffrey 2 2 12 0
Ray-Ray McCloud 0 1 0 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Robbie Gould 3 3 35 4
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Mitch Wishnowsky 2 40 1 41
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Ray-Ray McCloud 23 23 0 23
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Ray-Ray McCloud 2 6 0 13
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Fred Warner 8-4 0 0 0
Deommodore Lenoir 6-3 0 0 0
Talanoa Hufanga 5-3 0 0 0
Nick Bosa 5-2 2 0 1
George Odum 5-0 0 0 0
Dre Greenlaw 4-4 0 0 0
Jimmie Ward 3-1 0 1 0
Charvarius Ward 3-0 0 0 0
Tashaun Gipson 2-2 0 0 0
Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles 2-1 0 0 0
Akeem Spence 1-2 0 0 0
Jordan Willis 1-1 0 0 0
Oren Burks 1-1 0 0 0
Charles Omenihu 1-1 0 0 0
Samson Ebukam 1-0 0 0 0
Ambry Thomas 1-0 0 0 0

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