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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Notebook: Nick Bosa on the importance of a playoff bye; 49ers left impressed with Lamar Jackson; Jason Verrett returns; Ravens LB Patrick Queen sends a message

Dec 26, 2023 at 12:50 AM--


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Maybe it's a good thing the 49ers are scheduled to have a short week this week, because after what happened on Christmas we're ready to turn the page and focus on what's ahead.

But before that happens, there's still some notes and quotes to discuss from after the 49ers' 33-19 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas night.

We're going to do that in this version of 49ers Notebook, which will include some noteworthy postgame thoughts from defensive end Nick Bosa and tight end George Kittle. We'll also have a couple of quotes of note from the visiting locker room.

From there, feel free to shift the focus to the upcoming game against the Washington Commanders, which is the next step the 49ers will have to take in order to secure home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Maybe that's one of the few silver linings to come from Monday night's disaster -- despite what happened against the Ravens, the 49ers still control their own destiny and can get a coveted first-round bye if they take care of business.

Let's start with a thought on that topic from Bosa...

The importance of the bye


The 49ers, like any NFL team at this point in the season, are banged up and maybe a bit tired after four months of football. Head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked after Monday's game about fatigue on defense and said his team is going through the same things any NFL team is at the moment.

"I think that is for everybody," Shanahan said. "No different than anyone, but we're the same as everyone else in NFL right now."

That's a big reason why getting a first-round bye would be so important for the 49ers. It would give them a week to rest and heal up while allowing them to play one fewer playoff game than the other teams in the NFC, which would mean one less game of punishment and potential injury. Ever since the NFL added a seventh playoff team in each conference and took away the bye week for the number two seed, the team that earns the bye gets a clear advantage.

"It's huge," Bosa said. "The bye week is such a big deal. They took away one bye week. They added a game... the fact that they did that, the NFL, makes it tougher. It makes it tougher for teams that don't get the bye to keep everybody out there and play the best football they can in the playoffs. But it is what it is, and we're still in control, so onto the next."

The 49ers would have been in position to clinch a bye in Washington had they won against the Ravens, but they're still in the driver's seat despite being tied with the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions for best overall record in the NFC at 11-4. The 49ers hold tiebreakers over both teams, meaning if they win over the Commanders on Sunday and the Los Angeles Rams at home in the season finale, they'll get the bye week regardless of what the Eagles and Lions do.

It'll require a quick bounce-back for the 49ers after a disappointing loss, but it's nothing they haven't experienced before.

"Like I said after our three-game losing streak (in Weeks 5 through 7), this team's been through worse," Bosa said. "We've been through worse than this for sure. We still have everything ahead of us, and we have the guys to come back from it."

49ers impressed with Lamar Jackson


49ers quarterback Brock Purdy entered Monday night's game as the betting favorite to win the MVP at the end of the season, but his chances took a significant hit after throwing four interceptions in an ugly performance. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, on the other hand, moved to the front of the pack after throwing for 252 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-35 passing while rushing for 45 yards on seven carries.

Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith declared after the game that Jackson was the top candidate for MVP "hands down."

"Anyone that watches football and knows football and sees the type of impact he has on the game, not even like stat-wise but just individually the plays that he makes quarter in and quarter out, play in and play out, compare his film to anyone else in the league, then I would love to hear what anyone has to say after that," Smith said.

The 49ers didn't make any declarations of that nature, but they were clearly impressed with what they saw from Jackson on Monday. Bosa said Jackson switched up his playing style from what he showed earlier in the season, which threw the 49ers for a loop.

"I think he kind of adjusted how he plays," Bosa said. "Throughout the year on tape, he was kind of sitting in the pocket and going through his reads in the pocket. Tonight, I think he was looking for that escape lane quicker and then finding guys downfield, which was super impressive that he could kind of change the way he played. And yeah, that's something we just have to do better on containing him, kind of similar to how we have this season with other mobile guys. Just keeping him in there so he can't find those guys outside of the pocket."

Defensive end Chase Young said of Jackson, "Hell of a quarterback. Gotta go back to the drawing board, see what we can do differently."

Jackson, who already has the 2019 MVP on his resume, wasn't too interested after the game in talking about adding a second one.

"We got the dub. I really don't care about the performance," Jackson said. "I just wanted to win. That's what happened tonight. On Christmas, that was my gift. They asked me in an interview a couple years ago what would I want for Christmas, and my wish got granted. We just need to keep going, keep staying locked in and keep staying focused because (in) 2019 we were playing against guys like this, winning regular season games, and when the time came, we didn't finish the season. So we're just going to keep taking it a day at a time, a practice at a time and a game at a time. That's all I'm focused on right now."

Jackson gets apology from official after surreal play


Jackson overcame a rough start on Monday night, which included one of the strangest first-score plays the NFL has seen in a while.

On a third down play early in the first quarter, Jackson was being pressured by Bosa and Young when he ran backwards into the end zone, then tripped over umpire Alex Moore, who stumbled to the ground in front of Jackson while backpedaling on the play. Jackson fell forward and attempted to throw the ball away before being covered by Young, which resulted in an intentional grounding call that gave the 49ers a safety and a 2-0 lead.


Jackson told reporters after the game Moore gave him an apology following the play. Jackson also suggested he would have escaped from Young had he not tripped over Moore.

"He came back and apologized," Jackson said. "He's like 'My bad.' But it's all good. It's all good. Those two points helped them out a lot. I know I was going to get away. I know Chase knew I was going to get away too."

Assessing Purdy's INTs


As discussed earlier this evening on 49ers Webzone, Brock Purdy was fairly critical about at least two of his four interceptions, saying he made mistakes that cost the team. Shanahan wasn't quite as critical, saying Purdy made a mistake on his first quarter interception to safety Kyle Hamilton, which took potential points off the board for the 49ers, but that the other interceptions were as a result of good plays from the Ravens' defense.

"The one that he was off on was the first one -- just read the coverage wrong and didn't expect someone to be back there and made a bad decision on the first one," Shanahan said. "The second one -- corner made a hell of a play blitzing. He couldn't get it over him. The guy tipped it and ended up making it to himself. The third one, scrambling, I didn't really see what happened on it. I saw the end result. I know what happened on the ball, whether 14 (Hamilton) made a play, whether they both hit it at the same time, but he broke out of the pocket on a big third down, had George and 14 coming back to him and threw it right at them. And it just bounced up and got another tip.

"And then the fourth one in the third quarter, he was making the right decision, going to Christian (McCaffrey) on a checkdown, and someone hit him from the right side, and the ball came out sideways and went right to their linebacker. So I thought the first one was a big mistake, and the other three were pretty unfortunate for him."

Purdy left the game after a stinger he sustained in last week's win over the Arizona Cardinals flared up following a sack. Shanahan decided to keep Sam Darnold in the game the rest of the way, even though Purdy might have been able to return.

"He stayed in there, kept battling," Shanahan said. "I mean, our whole team struggled there in the second half, so it just wasn't him. I know he was disappointed not being able to finish it there, but getting that stinger again, it was just I wanted to keep him out of there and ready for him to bounce back next week."

The 49ers scored a touchdown with Darnold under center and almost scored again before an interception from Darnold sealed the game for the Ravens.

"I thought he came in and did a good job. Real good job. Led us to a touchdown there," Shanahan said of Darnold. "Wish we would have scored again there at the end. He was in a tough situation there with some of the two minute stuff, some of the guys who were just in and out with some of the receivers, the O-Line, just some of the injuries and substitutions we had. But he had good command. and I didn't see what happened at the end."

Glass half full for Kittle


Tight end George Kittle managed to show a bit of holiday cheer after Monday's loss, wishing reporters a "Merry Chrysler" before diving into a somewhat optimistic view over what happened against the Ravens.

Kittle told reporters he was down in the dumps as things were going wrong on Monday but now looks at it as a case of it simply not being the 49ers' night.

"It's kind of crazy," Kittle said. "I felt really bad during the game, like a lot of turnovers and putting our defense in horrible situations constantly. They still did a good job, held them to a couple of field goals and then at the very end it's like we score a touchdown, Ronnie (Bell) scores and we're going down again. It's like, hey, there's four minutes left. It's football, anything can happen. So I'm proud of the way the team fought at the end. Proud of Sam coming in and throwing some darts.

"Overall, we got our tails kicked in on Christmas day, national television so it's not really fun. But it's one game and we have an opportunity to on a short week go get another win and then it's just, hey, got to win the next one, too. So it's on us. Disappointing, but it's not like the building is on fire like that. Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way. A lot of tips, a lot of crazy stuff happened. So not incredibly angry right now, just disappointed. But I still think we have a pretty good football team."

Among the crazy stuff Kittle is referring to might be Purdy's four-interception game, which is the worst he's had as a pro. But Kittle suggested it's best to view it as something that isn't going to happen in the future and focus on what needs to be done to bounce back.

"I think the NFL script writers did a great job tonight," Kittle said. "I've never seen Brock pretty throw four interceptions before. Our team does a great job. Our defense fought their tails off every time we put them in a bad spot.

"I don't feel like I've been a part of a five turnover game since like 2018. So it's just surprising, I guess, when I look up and one where they had the corner blitz and it got tipped for an interception. I'm run blocking, I'm just like, 'Why is Brock Purdy making a tackle right now?' So, I mean, just stuff like that, you just don't see it very often. That's the game of football. Sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way. And, hey, what are you going to do? You're going to dwell on it? Or are you going to move on and go try to kick someone else's ass?"

A familiar face


The 49ers gave some reps Monday night to cornerback Jason Verrett, who was playing in his first NFL game since 2021.

Verrett, who throughout his career has had the worst injury luck of any NFL player in recent memory, missed most of the 2021 season after tearing an ACL in the 49ers' opener against the Lions. He opened the 2022 season on the PUP list, then suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in November. After spending time on the practice squad of the Houston Texans earlier this season, the 49ers signed Verrett to their practice squad earlier this month. On Monday, he made his season debut.

Time will tell what the 32-year-old Verrett can bring to this 49ers squad on the field, but Bosa is excited and pleasantly surprised to see him back in action.

"I was surprised that he's getting into it this quick, but he looked great in practice," Bosa said. "And everybody knows how elite of a player he is when he's healthy. So just having him, whether he's going to be rotating or as a backup, just having that security to know we have a guy who knows how to play the position as good as anybody is going to help us down the road because it's a long year. Guys are going to go down, unfortunately. But he'll be a good rotating guy or reserve for us."

Shanahan was asked if the task of putting Verrett in the slot in the middle of such an important game was too big of a task.

"That's what he played for the four weeks he was in Houston," Shanahan said. "That's what he wants to play and that's what we think he looks the best at and where he can help us the most. So we think all the NFL games are big regardless of which one, especially this time of year. And we felt he was the best guy for us with how practice has been going and for our roster right now."

Message Sent


Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen, who had one of the team's five interceptions on the night against the 49ers, sent a message after the game about the type of statement the Ravens made in Levi's Stadium.

That message was directed at teams like the 49ers who run flashy offensive schemes and those who thought the 49ers would run circles around the Ravens Monday night.

"We play a brand of football that people don't want to play," Queen said. "Everybody wants to be out here cute, playing basketball on grass and stuff, and we ain't with all that. You can do all that stuff, you're just going to get hit in the mouth every play, honestly. We could care less about all the pretty stuff you can do, gimmick stuff. You've still got to play football. You've still got to get touched. That's our mindset. That's how we want to come out and just hit people in the mouth."

Will the 49ers get a second chance at the Ravens in Super Bowl LVIII in February? It's very possible, and it'll certainly be interesting to see another battle between the 49ers offense and Ravens defense if it happens.

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