With the 49ers up 13-0 at halftime, everything was finally going in their favor; the 49ers had not beaten the Seahawks in Seattle since 2011. Even better, it was the first time in two years the Seahawks had been held scoreless in the first half. The 49ers' defense stopped them on a 4th-and-inches run at the 49ers' 31-yard line with Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch at the helm.


However, in typical Seahawks fashion, I had a feeling Russell Wilson and Co. wouldn't go out like that. The Seahawks roared back in the second half as they went 8-for-14 on third-down conversions and clawed back into contention. At 2:34 left in the game, Wilson drove the Seahawks down the field in what would be the 49ers' final defensive stop at the 1-yard line.


Here are your Week 17 Studs and Duds of the game. With a victory against the Seahawks for the final game of the season, the 49ers have won the NFC West division and take the top seed in the National Football Conference; being the top-seeded dog in the NFC ensures the 49ers will have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. More importantly, the victory allows the 49ers to get a bye week for the NFL Wild Card round and play the lowest seed in the NFC emerging from that weekend.

Studs


The Rookie Class


While it's still too early to fully evaluate the 2019 draft class, it looks like 49ers General Manager John Lynch is getting immediate returns on both sides of the football. It was a huge night for the rookies as they concluded their first full season in the NFL.


First-round pick Nick Bosa has lived up to the hype as a strong candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Bosa had an excellent night containing Wilson as he finished with six tackles, 11 pressures, and three tackles for loss. Several runs by Wilson could have gone for huge gains if it weren't for the containment by Bosa.

Second-round pick Deebo Samuel became an immediate starter for the 49ers and has improved every week. On Sunday, he led all 49ers' receivers with five receptions for 102 yards along with a 30-yard touchdown run. It seemed like every big play was attached to his name.

Fifth-round pick Dre Greenlaw replaced Kwon Alexander in the lineup after he tore his pectoral muscle against the Cardinals. Take it for what it is but the rookie linebacker has made his biggest plays against the Seahawks. In their first matchup, Greenlaw had a potential game-winning interception when he picked off Wilson in the end zone. This time around? Greenlaw led the 49ers' defense with 13 tackles, including the final tackle that sealed the 49ers victory on fourth-and-goal.



Jimmy Garoppolo


Coming off an ACL injury the previous season, questions loomed on the viability of Jimmy Garoppolo moving forward as the 49ers' franchise quarterback. Even in their 8-0 start, Garoppolo remained relatively under-the-radar for the 49ers' success; some even questioned whether his play even made a difference in Kyle Shanahan's system.

From Week 1 to now, Garoppolo has improved every game including four game-winning drives against the Steelers, Cardinals, Saints, and Rams. Garoppolo had never played against the Seahawks at Seattle nor had he played in a game that dictated the NFC West division title.


Against the Seahawks, Garoppolo finished the day going 18-for-22 for 285 passing yards at a 15.8 yards per completion average for an elite 90.1 rating from Pro Football Focus. More importantly, Garoppolo did not throw an incomplete pass in the second half. While Garoppolo fell just short of 4,000 passing yards for the season, his 3,978 passing yards rank fourth in a single season in franchise history. Garoppolo played his best football under the most adverse settings as his performance surged when the team needed him.


Joe Staley


Coming off an injury in their first matchup, Staley lost the one-on-one matchup to Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney finished with one strip-sack, five quarterback hits, 11 quarterback pressures, and one defensive touchdown in Week 10.

Staley finally got the rust off and played his best game of the season for the rematch. This time around, Clowney was limited to just one tackle the entire game while Garoopolo was only sacked twice. As the 49ers' longest-tenured veteran, this victory probably means more to him than anyone else on this team. Staley not only finished the game teary-eyed in excitement, but his play was also a huge component of the team's success.


Duds


Ahkello Witherspoon


49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is once again back on the duds list for obvious reasons. I said that last week was his worst game of the season but lo and behold, he allowed two more touchdowns to the opposition. The Seahawks targeted Witherspoon eight times for six catches which included Seahawks' touchdown receptions to Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.


While I would have wanted this earlier in the game, the 49ers benched Witherspoon in favor of Emanuel Moseley on the Seahawks' final drive of the game.

The 49ers will have two weeks until their next game to evaluate both Witherspoon and Moseley before deciding on who should start alongside Richard Sherman moving forward.

Mitch Wishnowsky


The 49ers' fourth-round pick punter is also responsible for the team kickoffs. While Wishnowsky has been solid all season, yesterday's performance was a blunder.


The 49ers were ahead 26-14 coming off a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter with less than five minutes left in the game. Wishnowsky kicked the ball out bounds on the kick off--which spotted the Seahawks at their 40-yard line. The Seahawks drove back down the field with favorable field position and just like that, it became a ball game at 26-21.

Sideline Pass Coverage


As noted earlier, the Seahawks went 8-for-14 on third-down conversions as the 49ers' defense just could not find a way to get off the field in the second half. Several of those conversions came from receptions along the sidelines with dump off receptions to Seahawks Metcalf, running back Travis Homer, and tight end Jacob Hollister.

Since the injury to Alexander, the 49ers' sideline-to-sideline defense in pass coverage has been a major issue. Those matchups have been especially difficult when the 49ers face mobile quarterbacks. A friendly reminder of things to consider as the 49ers could get a possible rematch with the Seahawks in the postseason.

  • Justin Wong
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    Justin Wong has been writing for the 49ers Webzone since 2017 while also running an NFC West blog and podcast called Just The West. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @JustTheWest on Twitter.