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3 takeaways from 49ers 28-16 win against Seahawks

Dec 10, 2023 at 8:11 PM--

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Another day, another decisive victory for the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers, who toppled the Seattle Seahawks for the second time in just three weeks.

49ers running back Christian McCaffrey started the game with a 72-yard run, and San Francisco kept the pressure on, outgaining Seattle by over 200 yards (527-324). Jordan Mason punched in CMC's opening gain for his third touchdown of the year, WR Deebo Samuel went back-to-back games with multiple TDs, and TE George Kittle added a late score on a stellar deep ball from QB Brock Purdy. It wasn't a true rout - defensive miscues and injuries allowed a handful of preventable explosive plays - but with Seattle starter Geno Smith sidelined shortly before the game, the 49ers easily did enough to keep things from getting hairy.

Here are three quick takeaways from the 49ers' 28-16 victory over the Seahawks.

Defensive Attrition

With long-time veteran Arik Armstead battling foot and knee injuries, the 49ers knew they'd have to rely on DT Kevin Givens and DT Javon Kinlaw, their primary reinforcements on the defensive line's Bravo unit. That responsibility only increased when key offseason signing Javon Hargrave left the game early in the first half with a hamstring injury. He wouldn't be the only one.

Charvarius Ward, San Francisco's #1 cornerback, left the game with a groin injury on the second drive of the game. That thrust CB Ambry Thomas into the spotlight, where he quickly gave up a contested catch touchdown to Seattle WR D.K. Metcalf that tied the game early in the first quarter. Ward, who had excelled at shadowing Metcalf in the Thanksgiving night showdown (3 catches, 32 yards), did not return to the game.

Neither did LB Oren Burks, the 49ers' third linebacker option behind Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, after a knee injury kept him from returning to play. To make matters worse, Greenlaw too was assisted off the field early in the game, although he did eventually recover enough to get back on the field.

The severity of most of these injuries will take a few days to determine, but this much attrition this late in the season bodes poorly for San Francisco. Perhaps due to the frequent lineup changes, the 49ers kept the Seahawks in the game the entire first half with a preponderance of missed tackles, such as when they allowed Seattle to run the double-fake that San Francisco deployed against the Seahawks in last year's Divisional Round.

Though the Niners defense clamped down enough to limit Seattle to just 16 points, they allowed Seattle backup QB Drew Lock to complete 71% of his passes while throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns. While the interceptions recorded by Warner and safety Ji'Ayir Brown sweeten the stat line (for the defense), they can't be satisfied with their performance tonight.

Seahawks Go Down With a (Literal) Fight

Another weekend, another avian-emblem'd wide receiver starting a fight with the 49ers' defense.

After Drew Lock threw a desperation pass into double coverage late in the game, Fred Warner leaped over Metcalf to snag the 49ers' second interception of the game. Upon intercepting the ball, Warner evaded Metcalf's tackle attempt and tossed a lateral to Dre Greenlaw, who began what can only be described as a circus act as he looped up and down the field, ping-ponging off of defenders for what was ultimately a 13-yard run-back. During the return, Warner chipped Metcalf on a block, igniting Metcalf and the Seahawks' bench.

The fracas resulted in both Metcalf and 49ers CB Deommodore Lenoir being ejected for escalating the situation. Neither player's absence impacted the result - San Francisco ran out the clock on their next possession - but the message was clear. Fred Warner, within the bounds of legal football play, hit Metcalf while he was down - both physically and emotionally - and Metcalf couldn't take it. For the Seahawks, losers of their fifth in a row against San Francisco, the incident marks some measure of understanding that the run of dominance they enjoyed against the Niners last decade is slowly but surely being turned on its head.

Purdy, McCaffrey, Deebo - Who's the MVP?

After yet another efficient, decisive offensive performance, it's getting a little tough to determine where to place the love amongst San Francisco's skill position players.

Brock Purdy cracked another record this week; this time, it was his own single-game passing yard total, which he set at a new high of 368, to go along with two touchdowns and an interception. It was yet another game in which Purdy didn't perform at his maximum potential, yet still put up a cool 122.1 passer rating. Purdy has now recorded 7 straight games with a completion percentage above 70%, second only all-time to Joe Montana (8). From that lens, it seems ludicrous that anyone else is in consideration for MVP.

But San Francisco's offense is so full of stars, it's impossible to linger on any one player for too long. Christian McCaffrey shredded the Seahawks on the ground to the tune of 16 carries for 145 yards (9.1 YPC), although he didn't score today, despite falling three yards short of the goal line on his opening play rush. He's the NFL's leading rusher by over 300 yards (although that number will shrink when the #2 and #3 rushers, Derrick Henry and Raheem Mostert, face each other on Monday), and he's added 437 yards through the air already this season. When he's healthy, it's worth asking what he can't do.

But it was Deebo Samuel that stole the show, hauling in 7 passes for 149 yards on 9 targets. His brash demeanor and unmatched physicality sets the tone for the 49ers offense, and he brings an element of versatility that makes the 49ers' offense impossible to defend. He's physical to the point that the Seahawks had to sell out to stop him at the line of scrimmage, and when they did, he reminded them that he could do this:

It seems unfair to other NFL teams that this discussion leaves out the likes of George Kittle, LT Trent Williams, and FB Kyle Juszczyk, all of whom are arguably at the top of their position in the league. With as much offensive firepower as the 49ers can currently field, another powerful showing tonight against the Seahawks has set them up well as the team looks to close out December strong.

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