Just two weeks removed from its 31-13 win on Thanksgiving in Seattle, the 49ers followed up with a 28-16 win in Santa Clara to move to 10-3 and drop Seattle to 6-7.
Sunday might not have been as dominant as the Thanksgiving tilt, but as it’s been the last two seasons, Seattle never felt like it could compete with San Francisco, who completed the season sweep once again.
Only winners this week with the 49ers moving to 4-0 against the NFC West, nearing its second consecutive perfect season in the division:
Winner: WR Deebo Samuel
If last week was the arrival of the 2021 Deebo, Sunday against Seattle announced that the 2021 Deebo is here to stay.
He followed his three-touchdown game last Sunday in Philadelphia with two touchdowns - one rushing and one receiving - with 149 receiving yards on seven receptions. After his 116-yard performance last week, Sunday marked the first time since 2021, and just the third time in his career, Samuel had consecutive games with at least 100 or more receiving yards.
Samuel’s biggest play of the game came from an unusual for the wide receiver. Unlike most of his game-breaking plays that come around the line-of-scrimmage, Brock Purdy found Samuel 40 yards downfield after he lulled Jamaal Adams to sleep before beating him deep for the 54-yard touchdown to put the 49ers up 14-10 early in the second quarter.
He would add another couple of explosive plays, but neither was as flashy as his late third-quarter 13-yard reception. The 49ers faced a third down inside the red zone but faced a third-and-6 up only four points. Purdy was able to scramble and find Samuel short of the marker, but Samuel used a James Harden-esque euro step to get around Quandre Diggs to get the first down, setting up his lone rushing touchdown on his only carry.
I referenced the last two games as 2021 Deebo, but if he continues the trend, we may need to update which year we refer to as Samuel’s best season.
Winner: Big plays
Samuel wasn’t the only player on offense ripping off big plays. It actually might take less time to name which 49ers didn’t have a big play instead of the players who did.
Christian McCaffrey started the game with a bang, gaining 72 yards on his first carry, setting up a Jordan Mason touchdown on the next play for a quick San Francisco lead. Aiyuk and McCaffrey would have a 20-yard gain before Samuel’s 54-yard touchdown. George Kittle would add on a 44-yard reception of his own, giving each of the big four at least one play of 20 or more yards.
The 49ers finished with 11 plays that gained at least 20 yards, and the distribution was pretty even:
Christian McCaffrey: 3
Brandon Aiyuk: 3
Deebo Samuel: 3
George Kittle: 2
Sunday also was the 10th time this season the 49ers have had at least one player finish with 100 or more receiving yards and just the second time two players have surpassed the century mark in the same game (Week 8).
Winner: LT Trent Williams
While McCaffrey had three plays of 20 or more yards, he had four runs gain at least 10 yards en route to his 145-yard day. ESPN’s play chart tells you which direction a run play goes. These are the directions on those runs:
According to ESPN’s play chart, nine of McCaffrey’s 16 carries went to the left side for a combined 140 yards, leaving his other seven carries with five combined yards. After his 72-yard run to open the game, McCaffrey had three consecutive runs to the right, combining for three yards before a run behind Williams gained 20 yards.
That’s a large discrepancy between sides of the line to run behind. It seems simple: to keep the run game moving, run behind Williams.
Winner: QB Brock Purdy
I mentioned last week, after naming Purdy a winner, that each of his best five games in terms of passing yards has come in 2023, and four of those five games have come since Week 8. Purdy continued on Sunday with a career-high 368 passing yards, completing 19 of 27 passes with a pair of touchdowns and an interception.
The offense slowed down after the big first drive, having consecutive three-and-outs before Purdy threw his lone interception. He bounced back after the pick, leading the offense on a five-play drive spanning 83 yards, completing all three of his passes, including his 54-yard bomb to Samuel.
The offense sputtered again after Samuel scored with consecutive punts, but once more, Purdy responded. He opened the 49ers’ third scoring drive with a 45-yard completion to Aiyuk before keeping a third down alive with his feet to hit Samuel for a first down a play before Samuel’s rushing touchdown. Purdy finished the game strong with a 44-yard touchdown to Kittle to put the 49ers up 28-16 with what turned out to be his last consequential throw.
We are seeing a new “best throw of Purdy’s career” weekly, and Sunday was no different with his deep pass to Samuel. The young quarterback has quickly developed and continues to strengthen his MVP case.
Winner: The secondary
Sunday started ominously enough for the secondary. Charvarius Ward injured his groin early in the first quarter before Ambry Thomas allowed a touchdown on an excellent play by DK Metcalf. From that point on, Seattle’s receivers were stymied.
Metcalf was off to a promising start with the touchdown - two receptions for 52 yards - after his disappointing game against the 49ers a couple of weeks ago when Ward and company held him to 32 yards on three receptions. With Ward out, things were looking for Metcalf with the score.
Fast-forward to the end of the game, and Metcalf finished with two receptions for 52 yards, with Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir stepping in for Ward.
Frustration began to set in with the Seattle receiving corps in the fourth quarter. Jaxon Smith-Njigba was called for a personal foul after striking Thomas in the face after a Nick Bosa sack. Then all hell broke loose when Fred Warner intercepted a Lock pass intended for Metcalf, resulting in Warner and Metcalf getting into it before Metcalf and Lenoir were disqualified for their roles in the scuffle.
Ji’Ayir Brown would also have an interception off of Lock to emphasize the secondary’s big day. The pass rush gets the attention, but the back half of the San Francisco defense has been holding up its end of the bargain over the last month.
Winner: The run defense
The Seahawks' offense had its share of big plays on Sunday. There is no better example than Seattle’s third scoring drive, where it covered 78 yards in three plays with a Kenneth Walker screen pass going for 27, a completion to Fant gaining 26, capped off by a 26-yard Colby Parkinson touchdown catch-and-run.
Seattle was even able to rip off three big runs. Zach Charbonnet opened his day with consecutive 23-yard runs, and Walker added a 12-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Seattle running back duo combined for 58 yards on those three runs.
Charbonnet and Walker combined for 12 rushing yards on their 14 other carries.
Clelin Ferrell led the way in the run game with a pair of tackles for loss, and Javon Kinlaw added his own in the absence of Arik Armstead. The 49ers’ defensive line was so dominant that Seattle’s running backs had six of their 17 rushes go for no gain or a loss of yards.
Sunday was the ninth game this season the 49ers have allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards, and was the fifth consecutive such game for a defense that’s been humming.