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5 takeaways: The 49ers found a way to win without the usual postseason production from Nick Bosa

A blowout victory is promising when you consider that San Francisco didn’t come close to playing their best ball

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

Three of this year’s six Wild Card round games featured a showdown between divisional foes. Two of those games went down to the wire, with a touchdown or less separating the winners from the losers. The 49ers, on the other hand, masterfully commanded an 18-point victory deep in the trenches of one of the NFL’s fiercest rivalries and stomped out the Seahawks’ season. The game wasn’t even close, as San Francisco racked up a 24-point lead before they began resting their defensive starters, and Seattle squawked out a meaningless touchdown with less than two minutes left in regulation.

Despite trailing at halftime, the 49ers entered the third quarter to pull the rug out from under the Seahawks’ season and, in the process, complete a clean seasonal sweep of not only their reviled enemy from the north but a complete sweep of each of their division rivals.

Here are my five takeaways from the 49ers’ dominant win over Seattle.

Kyle Shanahan is a damn good coach

This was Shanahan’s seventh career playoff game as the 49ers’ head coach, and he left with his fifth win in those seven tries. While slow starts to a season have become commonplace in the bay area, Shanahan has consistently found a way to get this team to play their best football when the stakes are at their highest, near the end of the season.

The 49ers are 13-3 in December and January over the last two seasons, including an active seven-game win streak. Next Sunday, Shanahan’s team will look to extend that streak to eight in San Francisco against what appears to be a more able opponent in the Cowboys, who bulldozed through Tom Brady and the Bucs last night.

Whatever rallying cry Shanahan vocalized in the locker room at halftime seemed to resonate as the 49ers outscored the Seahawks 25-6 in the second half.

Beyond all the work with the scheme, the play calling, and the plethora of winning traits that Shanahan brings to the table, his ability to galvanize this team and get them to play their best football when the season is in jeopardy could very well be his most valuable attribute as a head coach.

The ability to maximize results even when things aren’t going completely to plan is the perfect segue into the next takeaway, which is...

The 49ers were nowhere near their best, and yet they still won in a blowout

You’d never guess by looking at the final score or combing through the stat sheet, but the 49ers were far from playing at their full potential during much of Saturday’s game. This fact should have NFC fans from Dallas to Philadelphia trembling with fear as they anticipate one of the NFL’s most fierce defenses in recent memory and an offense dynamic and driven enough to turn a seventh-round draft pick, rookie, 3rd-string QB into a fast-rising star who led his team to 40 points and 500 yards during his first ever playoff appearance.

It wasn’t a poor showing by any means, but some mishaps in the first half kept this game closer than it ever needed to be. Multiple drives that ended up inside the Seahawks’ 20-yard line resulted in field goals, leaving points on the board and keeping the door open for Seattle to hang around.

The most costly mishap of all was an extremely uncharacteristic mistake by Jimmie Ward, who was flagged just before halftime for an unnecessary roughness penalty when he hit Geno Smith after the Seahawks’quarterback scrambled to his own 47-yard line on what would have assuredly been the second-to-last play of the half.

As a result, the Seahawks were given an additional 15 yards, and instead of being forced to dial up a hail mary from beyond midfield, they instead had the option to trot out pro bowl kicker Jason Myers who drilled a 56-yard field goal that put Seattle up by a point heading into the half.

It may have taken the 49ers two quarters to truly find their groove, but once they did, they never looked back. If they can find the rhythm they discovered in the Wild Card round second half at the start of a full 60 minutes onslaught, it is hard to envision a scenario where this team loses again without the Lombardi Trophy is within sight.

Mike McGlinchey was fantastic against the Seahawks

This rings true for this game, as well as the season as a whole. One of the most frequent recipients of unjustified criticism on this roster, McGlinchey delivered a performance that even his loudest detractors couldn’t help but praise.

McGlinchey did not allow a single pressure, sack, or QB hit against Seattle in the 49ers Wild Card win. Furthermore, the O-lineman’s critics should be reminded that his outstanding performance against Seattle this season was not limited to just this playoff victory.

McGlinchey posted a clean sheet in each of the three meetings against the Seahawks this season. In 86 pass-blocking snaps, the offensive tackle was not responsible for a single opposing player pressuring his quarterback. McGlinchey’s sustained success is paramount to the 49ers’ chance of finishing this season by hoisting a Lombardi trophy. He couldn’t have gotten off to a better postseason start than he did in the first round of the playoffs.

The 49ers found a way to win without the usual postseason production from Nick Bosa

Nick Bosa played in this game, but it was one of the rare occurrences where he failed to register a tangible pass-rushing statistic. Bosa did not record a single pressure against Seattle in this game. This was just the second time in the entirety of Bosa’s four seasons that he failed to register at least one pressure in a game.

The only other time the thundering defensive lineman has failed to stack up the stat sheet was in Week 2 of the 2020 season when Bosa was carted off with a knee injury early in the second quarter. In six previous career playoff games, Bosa averaged nearly six pressures per game, and even with Seattle finding a way to keep Bosa at bay in this one, it ultimately did not matter. Bosa’s absence on the stat sheet was filled out by the production on the defensive line from guys like Arik Armstead and Charles Omenihu.

The odds of the 49ers playing another game in these playoffs where Bosa does not record a pressure are probably smaller than Tom Brady taking the job from any of the 49ers’ three perfectly capable starting QBs presently on the roster. The fact this D-line was able to deliver a staunch performance without his typically domineering play is reassuring on several levels.

Postseason Robbie Gould is a luxury every team wishes they had

The tragic thing about the life of a kicker is that, typically you aren’t the topic of conversation unless things go horribly wrong and you miss a vital kick or two. When you’re drilling kick after kick through the uprights, season after season, the praise rarely comes. Booting in through the back of the endzone for three points is what fans have come to expect from Gould, and nobody seems to bat an eye unless the kick is from a ridiculous distance.

Perhaps nobody is more familiar with consistently good kicking leading to a lack of appreciation than Gould, who has now extended his perfect postseason streak to 25 after four field goals in the 49ers’ win over the Seahawks.

Just think about how nerve-racking it is lining up to attempt a field goal in a close game when the season is on the line, and the entire organization is depending on the way you perform in a 1.3-second timeframe, from the moment the ball is snapped, to the moment your toe hits leather. Gould has lined up in such a situation 25 different times in his 17-year career, and every single one of those times he has managed to deliver for his team.

With the stakes at their highest, there is no better feeling than having a kicker who you know can trot out there in almost any situation and deliver the points to keep your season alive on the biggest stage. Think back to the game-winner Gould hit in the divisional round against Green Bay last postseason and the cool and collected way he began to strut off the field as soon as the ball left his foot.

You never realize how valuable a commodity like Gould is until you are in a position where you need a player like that and don’t have one. Thankfully for the 49ers, that is something they won’t have to waste time fretting over as they continue this season’s pursuit of the franchises’ ever elusive sixth Lombardi trophy.

One final observation I noted: I’m working on a separate piece to highlight Arik Armstead and Charles Omenihu, but I would be remiss if I did not mention how spectacular these two were amidst the five superlatives I’ve picked out from this past Saturday’s Wild Card game. Game-changing performances from this pair of defensive linemen emphatically helped propel this team to the resounding victory over the Bay area’s reviled rival in Seattle.