The San Francisco 49ers played their first Thanksgiving game last night since THAT game against the Seattle Seahawks. 49ers fans may have had some sort of hesitation with PTSD coming into that from Seattle’s last Thanksgiving win over San Francisco.
That anxiety was for naught as the 49ers ran through its neon-clad rivals with a 31-13 shellacking in Seattle.
The win was the 49ers 10th consecutive NFC West win dating back to Week 18 of the 2021 season. That matches Seattle’s 10-game divisional winning streak from 2004-2006, the longest winning streak within the NFC West since the realignment of 2002.
Not only did the 49ers match a Seattle record that stood about 20 years, but it was able to exorcise some of the demons the Seahawks put on the franchise nine years ago:
Winner: Thanksgiving dinner on Lumen Field
It took nine years, and several head coaches, but the 49ers finally gave some closure to the fanbase years after the most embarrassing moment in Levi’s Stadium history. We don’t need to go into details and relive it, but it was a moment that included a turkey, the 49ers’ seal at midfield, and future 49ers legend Richard Sherman.
But with the 31-13 on Thursday night, the 49ers got revenge. With Charvarius Ward named the player of the game, he was supposed to be given the honor of eating the turkey at midfield but was joined by a gaggle of players, including Brock Purdy, Fred Warner, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel.
The vibes were high within the group, with Kittle including a quote about how there’s no better feeling than eating turkey legs on Seattle’s home field, Samuel threw in a barb at DK Metcalf after Ward mentioned him, and Nick Bosa had a quick cameo that included him saying “no carbs, all meat.”
The celebration continued with Kittle taking the turkey from the table to the tunnel, attempting to throw a leg into the crowd, but the leg dropped back to the ground before Kittle launched it back into the crowd. Samuel and Purdy were slinging the meat into the Seattle crowd, finding 49ers fans to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal.
While none of the 49ers celebrating Thursday were part of the 2014 team, it had to be therapeutic for the Faithful to see the tables turned on the divisional rival.
Winner: CB Charvarius Ward
Before Thursday night, Ward had taken 547 of his 548 snaps out wide on the left side of the 49ers defense.
On Thursday night, Ward followed Metcalf for most of the night, playing 19 of his 49 snaps on the right side of the 49ers defense. After the game, Ward even said it was Kyle Shanahan’s idea for the cornerback to follow Seattle’s best receiver, and what an idea it ended up being.
Metcalf was held to his worst game of the year - three receptions on nine targets for 32 yards - getting locked up by Ward with only one reception on six targets for 14 when he was targeted against Mooney. Geno Smith tested Ward on Metcalf early, throwing his first two passes to his favorite receiver, resulting in an incomplete pass and a pass breakup on opposite sides of the ball - a good representation for the night to come.
The solid night for Ward continued through the third quarter, with another pass breakup on a Smith deep shot with the 49ers up 21 points. It even got to a point where NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth questioned if Ward was in Metcalf’s head after a drop with the cornerback several yards back in off-coverage.
Winner: the offensive line
Brock Purdy was sacked on only one of his 32 dropbacks, and the 49ers running game ripped an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. To me, that’s a successful day for the offensive line.
There were some questions entering Thursday with both guards on the injury report, but Aaron Banks was able to go. Spencer Burford replaced by Jon Feliciano thanks to a knee injury. Feliciano led the offensive line with four pressures allowed, but the line allowed only 11 pressures and ten quarterback hurries.
The offensive line was opening up gaps for Christian McCaffrey and the running game. McCaffrey in particular managed three runs of at least 15 or more yards, including his second run that went for 27 yards en route to the 49ers’ first score. It was one of the many plays the 49ers would run where you thought he’d be tackled long before he really was. Samuel and Elijah Mitchell added 54 more yards on 11 combined carries, with Mitchell having the best performance of his season, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt on seven carries.
It wasn’t a perfect. The expected false starts came in Seattle, but only twice. Besides that, it was a solid night from the big uglies up front.
Winner: the Brock Purdy fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk
Aiyuk called it a dot after the game, and there’s no better vernacular to gloss it.
Like with Tampa Bay last week, the 49ers offense struggled to put the Seahawks away after scoring its 24th point with 39 seconds remaining in the first half. San Francisco would be stuck on 24 until the 7:51 mark of the fourth quarter, with Seattle shrinking the 49ers lead from 21 to 11 in the span. That’s when Purdy, the quarterback that threw a pick six letting the Seahawks back into the game in the first place, decided enough was enough.
Purdy dropped back out of shotgun near the halfway mark of the fourth quarter and rolled slightly to his left before sticking his back foot into the ground, turning and firing deep to his right. The pass was intended for Aiyuk, who found a soft spot, well maybe a “patch” is more accurate, in the Seattle secondary about 25 yards downfield. Aiyuk caught the ball centered within four Seattle defenders for a 28-yard score and giving the 49ers the 31-13 lead it would finish the game with.
It was a big-time throw from Purdy when the 49ers needed it, with Purdy showing off the arm talent that could establish him as a top-tier quarterback for years to come.
Loser: giving points away
This is a winner hidden within a loser. The winner is the 49ers defense. It will be responsible for six points but should only be counted for three.
Seattle’s first 10 points of the game came with just one scoring drive, gaining one total yard. The Seahawks’ first scoring drive ended with a Jason Myers 51-yard field aided by a 66-yard kickoff return from Dee Eskridge, setting Seattle up at the 49ers 33-yard line. The defense allowed only a yard on a Geno Smith run before Myers put the Seahawks on the board.
The Seahawks wouldn’t score again until Purdy threw a pick-six early which got the Seahawks to the 10-point mark, but that shouldn’t be blamed on the defense. The Seattle offense wouldn’t put an actual scoring drive together until its second drive in the second half, going 78 yards in 14 plays just to settle for a Myers 30-yard field goal to shrink the 49ers lead to 11.
Outside of that one drive, the 49ers defense was flawless. It forced another turnover with an Ambry Thomas interception and six sacks split between Bosa, Javon Hargrave, Tashaun Kipson, Arik Armstead, and Kevin Givens. With how Seattle played, it was lucky to get even three points, but thanks to some San Francisco miscues, the scoreline flattered the Seahawks.
Winner: P Mitch Wishnowsky
Another week, another Wishnowsky masterclass.
The 49ers’ punter added another five punts on Thursday, with the 49ers’ offense struggling in the middle part of the game. Four of his five punts pinned Seattle inside its 20-yard line, with three resulting in Seattle punts on the following drive and even one in San Francisco points.
Wishnowsky started with a punt that was fair caught by DeeJay Dallas at the Seattle seven-yard line, leading to Seattle’s second three-and-out in as many drives. Then a ball that Wishnowsky got spinning sideways and bouncing long enough for Samuel Womack to knock the ball towards the goal line for Ronnie Bell to down it at the Seattle two-yard-line, resulting in another Seattle punt.
His only punt to land outside the Seattle 20 might have been his most consequential. Dallas attempted to get under Wishnowsky’s 43-yard punt but mishandled the ball, leading to a muff and a Ronnie Bell recovery in field goal range. The 49ers’ offense couldn’t do much with the ball, and settled on a Jake Moody field goal, but it still was a turnover that generated points.
Wishnowsky has been outstanding all season for the 49ers special teams, third in the league in punts inside the 20 with the third-lowest touchback percentage, and forcing turnovers and long fields for Seattle on Thursday night was a massive help for a defense that’s played out of its mind the last few weeks.