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49ers’ Keys to Victory in Taking Command in Washington

Dec 30, 2023 at 9:00 AM

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In Week 17, the San Francisco 49ers head to D.C. to take on the Washington Commanders. I can't help but think that the 49ers have a bad taste left in their mouths after the beatdown they took against the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Night. San Francisco can clinch the number one seed in the NFC with some help from the Cowboys and Cardinals this week. Most importantly, this is a must-win game for the 49ers if they want you to remain in first place and keep their hopes alive for the top seed.

To beat the Commanders, the Niners must stick to these "Keys to Victory."

Balanced Attack

Offensively, the 49ers rushed the ball 18 times and passed 46 times against the Ravens. Expect 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to scrap that game plan and return to his team's winning formula.

The Commanders are ranked 32nd in total defense, allowing, on average, 384.3 yards per game. A good, balanced attack will sustain long drives and keep the Commanders' defense on the field for most of the game.

This game could be where Christian McCaffrey breaks Jerry Rice's franchise single-season touchdown record, set at 23. McCaffrey is only three touchdowns away from breaking the record on the ground or in the air.

Let it Rip, Brock

49ers quarterback Brock Purdy had his worst statistical game of his career last week against the Ravens. He threw four interceptions but continued to let the ball rip against one of the top secondaries in the league. The Washington Commanders are ranked 31st in passing this season, allowing 261.6 yards per game. The 49ers average 265.7 passing yards per game. With the Commanders down to their third and fourth-string cornerbacks, I wouldn't be surprised if Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel have massive success in the air.

Deebo is 166 yards from the 1,000-receiving-yard mark. Tight end George Kittle is only nine yards from the feat. This game could be where the 49ers achieve three 1,000-yard pass catchers in a single season.

Keep the Foot on the Gas

It's safe to say that Shanahan and his team were embarrassed on Monday Night Football. Kyle has a grudge against this organization, along with players like Trent Williams and Chase Young. Do not be surprised if Shanahan gets his offense into rhythm early and keeps his foot on the gas for 60 straight minutes.

In a must-win scenario, the 49ers offense has the opportunity to put up the most points they have all season long. The team scored 30 points against the Giants, 42 against the Cowboys, and 42 against the Eagles. San Francisco has averaged 38 points against the NFC East division. If the 49ers keep the pedal to the metal, they will be victorious.

Make them One Dimensional

The Commanders will look to run the ball. The 49ers want to eliminate the run early. Brian Robinson is their leading rusher on the season, and the Commanders average 98.7 yards per game, ranking them 22nd in the league. The 49ers' run defense ranks third, giving up, on average, 90.3 yards per game. The run defense held the Ravens to 102 yards on the ground.

I do not think the 49ers' defensive front has to worry about a mobile quarterback adding to the rushing yards in this game, but they still must play disciplined and contain the edges. Whether it's Jacoby Brissett (hamstring injury) or Sam Howell, those quarterbacks will take off up the middle to extend plays.

If the 49ers take away the run and make the Commanders one-dimensional, their new starting safety, Logan Ryan, will get his first interception of the season.

Limit the Penalties

It's impossible to play mistake-free football. The 49ers rank 26th in the league in penalties, averaging 6.2 per game, making them one of the most penalized teams in the league. San Francisco committed ten penalties last week against the Ravens for 102 yards.

The good news is the 49ers average 5.6 penalties per game against the NFC East. They are 1-3 against teams when they have committed double-digit penalties. San Francisco defeated the Steelers in Week 1 with 11 penalties in that game. They committed 12 against the Browns and 10 against the Ravens, both resulting in losses.

Expect the 49ers to get penalized, but if the team can limit them and keep the penalties low, they will be rolling into another victory.

In conclusion, the 49ers control their destiny in the playoff seeding. Expect them to remain in control, and if they get a little New Year's Eve magic, they can clinch the number one seed in the conference.

First and foremost, they must defeat the Commanders, and they can do just that if they follow the "Keys to Victory."
  • Written by:
    Wayne Breezie is a 49ers content creator. He had his first guest appearance on Ronbosports in 2012. He began writing for a Facebook group called the League of the 49ers. Next, he began writing for Nothing But Niners in 2017. In 2018, Wayne Breezie made his debut on YouTube’s Nothing But Niners show. In 2019, he started his podcast called Nitty Gritty Niners. After putting the pen down for several years, Breezie saw an opportunity to write for His first published article was in January of 2022 with 49ersCap, and he currently writes and produces weekly podcasts.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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