The 49ers lived up to their heavy favorite status against the Seahawks in the Wild Card Round. Despite trailing 17-16 at the half, San Francisco found their rhythm in the second half and coasted to a 41-23 win.
Here are position-by-position grades from the victory.
Brock Purdy got off to a rough start that was reminiscent of Jimmy Garoppolo’s worst moments. He airmailed an open Deebo Samuel on his first attempt of the game, underthrew Jauan Jennings on a corner route to the endzone, and threw an easily interceptable ball in the red zone that bounced off a linebacker’s hands.
But then the second half happened. Purdy’s most impressive sequence came after Geno Smith’s fumble in the third quarter. Purdy delivered great throws to Jennings, Elijah Mitchell, and George Kittle to cap off a drive that resulted in a touchdown and two-point conversion.
Still, his most impressive play came after the result was decided, rolling to his left, evading pressure as he came across the field and delivered a dart to the back corner of the endzone for Brandon Aiyuk, but the ball bounced off Aiyuk’s hands.
Running backs: A+
Christian McCaffrey ripped off a huge 68-yard rush, and on top of that, he averaged 4.25 yards per touch on his 14 other carries and two receptions. Elijah Mitchell did not do much on the ground, but he hauled in a touchdown and an 18-yard catch as a receiver.
Tight ends: B-
The 49ers didn’t need a big day from George Kittle as a receiver (catching both of his targets for 37 receiving yards), but he was excellent as a blocker and did bounce off his tackles when the ball was in his hands.
Wide receivers: A
Brandon Aiyuk had the late drop but still amassed 73 receiving yards on a trio of receptions. Still returning to his place as the star of the offense, Deebo Samuel made his presence felt. Samuel returned to the wideback position, seeing several reps out of the backfield. He recorded 165 total yards on nine touches (six receptions, three carries), highlighted by a 74-yard touchdown reception.
Jauan Jennings also had a huge third-down grab and likely would have had a touchdown grab if Purdy had made a better throw in the first half.
Offensive line: B
The 49ers' offensive line did a solid job controlling the line of scrimmage, but Purdy’s mobility covered up some mistakes in pass protection.
Defensive line: A-
Arik Armstead sacked Geno Smith on the Seahawks' first drive, but the Niners' defensive line was more consistently a problem than a dominant force. San Francisco only logged three sacks and a pair of quarterback hits, but Charles Omenihu made the play of the day, poking the ball out of Smith’s arms for the game-changing fumble.
Dre Greenlaw took a bad angle on Kenneth Walker III’s touchdown run, but he and Fred Warner did a great job preventing the Seahawks from any big runs. Walker’s longest rush of the day only went for nine yards.
The Seahawks did some damage against Deommodore Lenoir, but he held up well enough for the 49ers to win before grabbing a game-sealing interception. D.K. Metcalf beat Mooney Ward for some big plays, something few receivers have done this season. However, no other Seahawks receiver recorded at least 40 yards. In the slot, Jimmie Ward cost the 49ers three points at the end of the first half with an egregious personal foul.
Tashaun Gipson’s highlight of the game came when he cut off an angle for Smith on a rushing attempt and brought him down. He also added a tackle for loss. All-Pro Talanoa Hufanga added five tackles.
Special teams: A
No missed kicks from Robbie Gould. A 57-yard punt from Mitch Wishnowsky. A 16-yard punt return for Ray-Ray McCloud. The only blemish on the special teams unit came on a 37-yard kickoff return.