The 49ers couldn’t have asked for a better start. The defense forced Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to go three-and-out. Then, on offense, George Kittle caught an intermediate pass and raced 58 yards to put the offense in scoring position.
After another completion to Kittle, Brock Purdy threw it to the opposite colored jersey. He failed to acknowledge the safety on the opposite side of the field, Kyle Hamilton, and threw an interception. The only way this game was going to be close was if the 49ers turned the ball over.
The 49ers defense was the first unit to get on the scoreboard. Backed up in his own end zone, Jackson felt pressure from Nick Bosa and Chase Young. He couldn’t escape the pocket in time, and tried to throw it underhanded to avoid a safety. Jackson was flagged on the play for intentional grounding.
On the Niners second offensive possession, they once again moved the ball. Christian McCaffrey’s first carry went for 14 yards and Brandon Aiyuk’s initial reception of the game went for 18 yards.
Purdy was sacked on 4th & 1, but a defensive holding penalty kept the offense on the field. But after failing to win on first or second down, a 3rd & 9 incomplete pass forced a Jake Moody field goal from 45 yards. That made it 5-0, Niners.
Baltimore received a few gifts from the 49ers defense on the next possession. Tashaun Gipson committed defensive pass interference. Then, he grabbed a Baltimore face mask. And just like that, the Ravens were in the red zone.
Nick Bosa and Dre Greenlaw had a tackle for loss on second down. Then, Steve Wilks dialed up a 0-blitz on third down to force Jackson to get rid of the ball quicker than he wanted to. Ambry Thomas made the open field tackle, and the Niners held Baltimore to three points to make it 5-3.
Kittle gained 20 yards to put San Francisco in Baltimore territory, but Purdy threw his second interception of the game. This one came on a screen pass that was batted in the air. It was the type of play where there’s some luck involved, but it’s also inexcusable. So, Purdy had an interception on two of the 49ers first three drives.
The defense wasn’t as fortunate on the following drive. The 49ers forced only two third downs on an 11-play drive. Baltimore marched down the field and converted a 4th & 1 to go up 10-5.
The 49ers defense were backed up in what seemed like an impossible spot. But they held the Ravens out of the end zone and wound up causing them to lose yardage. Justin Tucker’s field goal made it 13-5.
Deebo Samuel returned the kick 34 yards. The Niners desperately needed a spark plug. Five points compared to three turnovers. Here’s an idea, give the ball to McCaffrey more than once.
McCaffrey had a gain of six yards. Then caught a pass for eight yards. Then ran off tackle for 39 yards. He is incredible. McCaffrey capped the drive off with a 9-yard run to make it 13-12. And just like that, the 49ers were back in it.
But the Ravens had plenty of time before the end of the half. A Javon Hargrave sack foiled their plans, until Ambry Thomas was flagged for defensive holding. Another first down completion to Odell Beckham Jr. gave the Ravens the ball at mid-field.
The defense had a chance to prevent the Ravens from scoring, but Lamar ran for 20 yards on 3rd & 16. Justin Tucker’s field goal made it 16-12 at halftime.
San Francisco outgained Baltimore 231-176. The 49ers averaged 8.6 yards per play, but three interceptions were the reason they trailed. Would the second half be different?
Well, Purdy targeted Willie Snead on third down. That’s where not having Jauan Jennings hurt.
Jason Verrett started the second half at nickel. Deommodore Lenoir lined up wide. It didn’t make much of a difference as Jackson broke contain on two plays on the drive and scored in no time to extend the Ravens lead 23-12.
Purdy threw his fourth interception. This time, he was hit, but it was still a turnover. Trent Williams nearly made the play of the game, running down the Ravens’ defender and forcing a fumble. But the play was upheld and it was Ravens ball.
One play later, after it looked like Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw were scrambling as the ball was snapped, Jackson found Zay Flowers wide open in the end zone to make it 30-12. The only saving grace for the Niners was that there was still enough time left in the game to come back.
But another drive without points didn’t help. Mitch Wishnowsky pinned Baltimore inside their five. Could the defense come up with another turnover? A defensive holding on 3rd & 1 by Javon Kinlaw summed up how the quarter went.
Baltimore ended up driving the ball all the way to the 49ers 1-yard line, before a delay of game penalty on 4th & goal forced Justin Tucker to kick another field goal. That made it 33-12, Baltimore.
The offense turned the ball over at mid-field to start the fourth quarter. They were out of sync all game. It was the first time we saw Purdy look subpar for an entire game. There will be dramatic overreactions to this performance regarding Purdy.
Those who were hiding out since the three-game losing streak will take a victory lap and claim that Purdy was never as good as his numbers would suggest. This was by far the biggest step up in class for San Francisco, on both sides of the ball, and they came up short.
The rest of the fourth quarter offensively would be played without Trent Williams and Jaylon Moore. That meant Colton McKivitz would slide to the left side and play tackle, while Spencer Burford kicked out to tackle on the right side.
Purdy looked frazzled by the different looks the Ravens gave him, and it affected his accuracy. You don’t win in the NFL when you throw four interceptions. It doesn’t happen.
The 49ers will flush this game and look to close out the regular season with two wins to maintain the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
This game should allow the 49ers to reset and dig deep. We were going on a month and a half of them hearing about how they were the best and that it’d be a breeze through the Super Bowl.
One of the most interesting angles in this game is how Purdy will bounce back. He left the game and immediately went into the blue medical tent. Assuming Purdy’s healthy moving forward — he left the game with a stinger, finishing the season on a high note and “getting back on the horse” will be good for him. Nothing about tonight was good.
Down 14, Sam Darnold wound up throwing a touchdown pass to Ronnie Bell. After a punt, the 49ers got the ball back and made it all the way to the Ravens 1-yard line. On 3rd and goal, just after the two-minute warning, Darnold was sacked and lost 11 yards.
That was all she wrote.