The 49ers defeated the Washington Commanders 37-20 on Saturday, setting themselves up for a particularly happy Christmas day.
Here are position-by-position grades for the Niners' win.
Purdy’s limitations showed a bit more against Washington than they had in his first two starts. Several throws were noticeably behind his intended receiver, and the Niners' pass catchers stood out with fantastic performances. With that said, Purdy’s lone interception shouldn’t have been a turnover. Purdy made a bad throw to Jauan Jennings that should have been an easy completion, but Jennings batted the ball up into the air and eventually into a defender’s arms.
Still, Purdy’s best aspects showed through as well. His elusiveness in the pocket bailed out the offensive line on multiple plays, avoided huge losses, and often turned them into positive gains. He also did not miss the home run opportunity when he had George Kittle and Ray-Ray McCloud open downfield, resulting in a 34-yard touchdown.
Running backs: C
The 49ers offensive line struggled against a healthy Commanders defensive line, but nevertheless, the Niners' backs were quiet all day long. Jordan Mason suffered an injury on the opening kickoff, and rookie Ty Davis-Price was unable to replicate Mason’s power in his place. Price and Christian McCaffrey combined for just 76 rushing yards on 24 carries, while McCaffrey caught only two passes for 12 receiving yards.
Tight ends: A+
George Kittle was the Niners' best offensive player, sealing the game with an excellent catch on a late fourth down to cap off a day with six receptions for 120 receiving yards and two touchdowns. It can be fun to watch Kittle block, but it’s better when he shows off his ability as a weapon.
Wide receivers: B
Like Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk was excellent on Sunday, hauling in five of his seven targets for 81 receiving yards. Aiyuk made a couple of full-extension grabs and turned a short pass from Purdy into his longest completion of the game (54 yards).
Jauan Jennings hauled in a 15-yard third-down conversion, but he also should have caught a pass from Purdy that turned into the Niners' only turnover of the game. Ray-Ray McCloud dropped his only receiving target of the day, but he took a handoff 71 yards to the house, which makes it easier to stomach having only one wide receiver rack up at least 25 receiving yards.
Offensive line: D+
Going up against a strong Commanders defensive line that was welcoming Chase Young back to the lineup, the 49ers offensive line understandably struggled. The 49ers line missed a blitzer on an early third-and-four, and Mike McGlinchey was called for two costly false starts on third down. The unit’s best moments came on McCloud’s long run, but it was still a rough overall performance.
Defensive line: A+
Seven tackles, five quarterback hits, three sacks, two tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. That was Nick Bosa’s stat line against the Commanders. Only two of Bosa’s sacks and four of his quarterback hits will be added to his season tally since he recorded one on a two-point conversion. Still, it remains one of the best defensive performances by a Niners lineman in recent history.
Jordan Willis did an excellent job grabbing a fumble and added a tackle for loss of his own. Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu also recorded quarterback hits.
Fred Warner led the Niners with 13 tackles Dre Greenlaw’s ability to immediately stop an opposing player’s momentum is unparalleled. Greenlaw stopped Commanders' ball carriers short of the line to gain on multiple short-yardage situations. He also probably had an interception that both the on-field referees and the 49ers missed.
Mooney Ward did a great job limiting Terry McLaurin before he left the game with an injury, but Jahan Dotson torched Deommodore Lenoir throughout the first half, and McLaurin recorded his first long reception as soon as Samuel Womack replaced Ward. Jimmie Ward managed to record his third interception of the season, a miraculous feat for those familiar with Ward’s hands.
Tashaun Gipson recorded a pass defended with an impressive downfield deflection that prevented a long completion and otherwise held up well in coverage. Talanoa Hufanga’s gaffes in coverage continued, but he always gets in the mix. He racked up eight tackles and one pass defended.
Special teams: C+
Robbie Gould had a kickoff sail out of bounds, although the kickoff coverage was fantastic on his other kicks. Mitch Wishnowsky also had far from his best day as a punter. Gould did make all seven of his attempts, although none were from longer than 35 yards. McCloud did nothing of note on his returns.