As a refresher, the factors I used to create this list include how did each performance hold up with the eye test. After going back and watching the game film, was it as impressive now as it was at the time?
I also heavily weighed the game's impact, meaning the stakes of each contest played a pivotal role in how these rankings ultimately played out—finally, good old-fashioned statistics. So while the eye test was the primary factor being weighed, I also made it a point to place enough emphasis on the objective numbers a player posted in their respective games.
Without further ado, number eight on the list:
Charles Omenihu: @ Dallas - Wild Card Round
On a roster as loaded with blue-chip talent as the 49ers are, this is not a name you would expect to make a list like this. Nevertheless, San Francisco quietly acquired Omenihu just prior to the 2021 trade deadline, sending Houston a 2023 sixth-round pick in exchange for the edge rusher. At the time, it appeared to be a good move to bolster depth on the edge, but I don't think anyone could have predicted his impact in such a pivotal game.
Fast forward to the Wild Card round, a game against the Cowboys in Dallas that saw the 49ers match up in the postseason against their most storied rival for the first time in over twenty years. The 49ers' defensive line as a whole shined in this game, but Omenihu's performance on an individual level was truly special for a couple of reasons.
First off, the sheer magnitude of this contest. Two of the NFL's most prestigious franchises matched up in the postseason for the first time since the mid-'90s, a time during which both of these teams dominated the landscape and created one of the greatest rivalries in the history of professional sports. No matter the state of either team, the Cowboys and 49ers will always be captivating in a way that few teams in the league could match.
Secondly, the performance Omenihu put on would be spectacular in any playoff setting, regardless of the magnitude of the matchup itself. On a day where the 49ers' defensive line led the charge, Omenihu paced all defenders with six pressures, two sacks, and a forced fumble. He regularly got into the Dallas backfield and wreaked havoc on Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' offense.
What makes this even more impressive is the way Omenihu had to step up in the absence of arguably the 49ers' best player, as star edge rusher Nick Bosa left the game just before halftime and did not return for the remainder of the contest after suffering a concussion.
The depth behind Bosa stepped up in a huge way, with Omenihu spearheading a violent pass rush that kept the explosive Cowboys offensive attack at bay long enough for the 49ers to escape Jerry World with a win. To step up in that way, on that stage, against that opponent, without a player of Bosa's caliber is truly special stuff.
Lastly, what makes this performance so impressive, is just how out of left field it was. Entering this game vs. Dallas, Omenihu had yet to record a sack as a 49er and had only recorded nine pressures in nine games with the team. He exploded for six pressures in this game, and his first sack(s) with the team could not have come at a better time.
Finally, adding to this impressive performance was the feel-good aspect of Omenihu doing all of this in his home state, where he also attended college. The University of Texas alumni, who originally hails from Houston, was able to deliver the performance of his life just hours from where he grew up and carved his path to the NFL.
All in all, this was a special day for a player who continues to figure into the 49ers' plans at the position moving forward. No matter where Omenihu falls on the depth chart moving forward, he will always have the spectacular game in Dallas to hang his hat on.
Stay tuned for #7 on the list, coming soon...