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Winners and Losers from the 49ers Wild Card win: Charles Omenihu’s strip-sack was the turning point

Deebo Samuel had a few game-changing plays himself

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

It was a rough second quarter for the 49ers. After losing a 10-point first-quarter lead, the Niners went into the half down 17-16, when they gave up a field goal on the final play of the half. Of course, Seattle’s first-half comeback was rendered meaningless after the 49ers scored 25 in the second half for a 41-21 win in the Wild Card round.

The 49ers finished a complete sweep of the Seahawks for the first time since 2011, winning all three games in 2022 against the divisional rival, and finishing 7-0 against the entire NFC West on the season.

As the 49ers await their Divisional Round opponent, let’s take a look the winners and losers from Saturday’s win.

Winner: DE Charles Omenihu

Omenihu’s third-quarter strip-sack of Geno Smith was easily the turning point in Saturday’s game, and hence the play that may have very well saved the 49ers' season. The 49ers came out in the second half with their longest possession of the game, a bruising 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that gave the team a six-point lead while winding seven-and-a-half minutes off the clock.

Seattle responded with a 12-play drive of their own that saw two third-down conversions, including one on third-and-12. The 49ers defense let Seattle get inside the 20-yard-line, but after Charvarius Ward broke up a pass to D.K. Metcalf in the endzone, the Seahawks faced a third-and-14.

Omenihu lined up over center, then skirted around the edge, blowing by Smith and ripping the ball out of the QB’s hands as he sprinted past. Nick Bosa had already swarmed through the middle of the backfield by the time the ball hit the ground. Bosa leapt on the ball, ending a drive that could have given Seattle a lead entering the fourth quarter. The 49ers outscored Seattle 18-6 from that point on, pushing the one-point lead to an 18-point blowout.

Omenihu finished the game with two sacks, three tackles, a tackle for a loss, and a quarterback hit, leading the way for the 49ers' pass rush.

Loser: Whatever that was at the end of the first half

Things got unnecessarily stressful near the end of the first half. Robbie Gould hit a 46-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the second quarter to give the 49ers an apparent 16-14 lead entering the half. Despite Seattle having a pair of timeouts, the 49ers opted to squib the kickoff, which was returned for 14 yards by Colby Parkinson to the Seattle 38-yard line with eight seconds left in the half.

Geno Smith looked to pass on first down but had to run to get what he could before the half to set up a potential hail mary. Smith gave himself with a slide at the Seattle 47-yard-line but Jimmie Ward came in late and hit Smith, giving Seattle an extra 15 yards with one second remaining on the clock. Jason Myers hit a 56-yard field goal as time expired, snatching the lead back entering halftime.

It felt like a huge momentum swing going into the half, leaving fans on the edge of their seats as they waited for players to return to the field. Luckily, San Francisco was set to receive the opening kick-off in the second half, and the offense responded as well as any fan could ask for, with that bruising seven-and-a-half minute drive that ended in a touchdown.

Winner: WR Deebo Samuel

If Omenihu’s strip-sack was the stand-out physical play of the game, Samuel’s 21-yard reception in the third quarter was the ultimate emotional play of the game.

On the 49ers scoring drive to open the second half, Brock Purdy hit Samuel on a third-and-7 for the big play, but after Samuel was down, Seahawks’ safety Jonathan Abram seemed to intentionally twist and pull Samuel’s leg, tweaking the receiver's recently injured ankle, with no flag thrown.

A scuffle ensued, and Kyle Shanahan was seen yelling an obscenity at a ref. Whatever Abram’s intentions were as he wrenched around the pro-bowl wide receiver’s weakened left ankle, it ultimately did nothing good for Seattle. If anything, the play seemed to wake the 49ers up, who scored a touchdown five players later, which led to the Omenihu forced fumble and ultimately a blow-out win that ended Seattle’s season.

After returning to the field from what could have been a devastating and unnecessary injury caused by a dirty play, Samuel came back to make a catch that put the game away early in the fourth quarter.

Purdy found Samuel open between the has marks and the sideline on the second play of the drive before Deebo turned on the gas and weaved upfield, with Brandon Aiyuk shoving a gaggle of Seahawks out of the lane, as Samuel took the ball 74 yards into the endzone, giving the 49ers an insurmountable 19-point fourth-quarter lead. The play was Samuel’s final reception of the game, giving him 133 yards on six receptions and a touchdown, on top of three rushing attempts for 32 yards.

Loser: First half Brock Purdy

On paper, Brock’s first-ever postseason half wasn’t horrible. At the end of the second quarter, Mr. increasingly Relevant had a passing touchdown and 147 yards, but those 147 yards came on 9-of-19 passing, and something just felt off through the first thirty minutes of play.

There were multiple instances where the 49ers’ pass offense seemed to be reading from different pages of the playbook, including their first offensive play where Purdy took a deep shot to Samuel, overthrowing the receiver by a good margin.

Perhaps shaking off some postseason jitters, Purdy took a few shots that could have easily been intercepted, and fans should be grateful for not only their 3rd-string quarterback’s recover-breaking play during a remarkable 7-game winning streak but also perhaps a bit of luck that has been hovering above the 49ers offensive ever since Purdy first took the field in Week 13 following Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury.

Whether it was jitters or a streak beginner’s luck wearing thin, Purdy left some things to be desired, as the offense managed four scoring drives in the first half, but only one touchdown, as San Francisco entered the half with a feeling that plenty was left on the table.

Purdy’s shaky first-half play led to some concern entering the second half, but after all is said and done, it’s safe to say the rookie responded well to whatever Shanahan told him during the break.

Winner: Second half Brock Purdy

Purdy bounced back bi in the second half. He went 9-of-11 passing for 185 yards and tallied three touchdowns. His first touchdown of the second half came five plays following the Samuel-Abram ankle-twisting incident on a quarterback sneak that put the 49ers up 23-17. He followed that with 51 passing yards on the next drive, including a 33-yard dime to Jauan Jennings to put the 49ers inside the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Purdy used his legs to make a play behind the scrimmage and was able to find a wide-open Elijah Mitchell, who walked a dagger into the end zone, effectively ending Seattle’s season.

With the 74-yard pass to Samuel as his final touchdown of the game, Purdy finished 18-of-30 for 332 passing yards and four total touchdowns, beocming the first-ever rookie quarterback to account for four touchdowns in a postseason game.

Winner: RB Christian McCaffrey

What Samuel was to the passing game, McCaffrey was to the rushing game. The 49ers running back averaged 7.9 yards per attempt, running for 119 yards on 15 attempts with two receptions for 17 yards and a touchdown coming through the air. McCaffrey made the first big play of the game, following the 49ers opening drive field goal with a 68-yard run from the 49ers' 15-yard-line to completely flip the field. Four plays later, McCaffrey scored his lone touchdown of the game giving the 49ers an early 10-point lead.

It was just the second playoff game of McCaffrey’s career, and he continued to show why John Lynch and company acquired him before the trade deadline.