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The San Francisco 49ers clinched the NFC West for the first time since 2019 with a 21-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night. The 49ers never trailed in this game and the final score looks closer than the game actually was. Seattle pulled within eight points with 3:35 left in the fourth quarter, but Kyle Shanahan’s foul shot ran out the clock and won its seventh straight.

Seventh-round pick quarterback Brock Purdy was effective in his first career road start as the 49ers rookie completed 17 of 26 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Even without Debo Samuel, the rookie had plenty of weapons to work with. George Kittle caught four passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns, while Christian McCaffrey had 32 total catches for 138 yards and one rushing touchdown.

The Seahawks offense struggled all evening, and that’s in large part thanks to the 49ers’ No. 1 defense. The unit allowed just three points in the first half and forced a Travis homer just after the two-minute warning in the second quarter that was San Francisco’s second touchdown of the game; break Geno Smith completed 31 of 44 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown, while Kenneth Walker III had 47 rushing yards on 12 carries.

Even with Mr. Irrelevant at quarterback, the 49ers proved they are still the best team in the division. Here’s a deep dive into what happened in Seattle on Thursday.

Why did the 49ers win?

There’s a lot of merit in San Francisco’s win Thursday night. Purdy was unfazed on the road and battling rib and oblique injuries, McCaffrey carried the offense, but what really stood out in this game was the 49ers’ defense. That score is the reason San Francisco won in Week 15 and the reason the 49ers are still a contender even with a third-string quarterback.

The Seahawks only got into the red zone once and went 4 of 13 on third downs. That 49ers no. The 1-run defense lived up to its billing as Seattle rushed for just 70 yards. Nick Bosa and Cone Smith made it uncomfortable, the linebackers ran aggressively from sideline to sideline, and the secondary was able to cover D.K. a lot. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Charvarius Ward deserves a shout out for the job he did on Metcalf. They had a fun fight all evening.

Why did the Seahawks lose?

Quandre Diggs missed an easy interception late in the second quarter, a deep pass to Darek Young that advanced the Seahawks to the 49ers’ 2-yard line was negated by a holding penalty, and Seattle wasn’t good on third downs. There were missed opportunities on both sides of the ball for the Seahawks. Still, I think holding the 49ers to 21 points was a pretty solid effort. The offense, on the other hand, averaged 26.3 points per game this game, but scored less than half that on Thursday. Obviously, the 49ers have an elite defense, but if there’s a line split at home a week late in the season, this is where you have to pull out all the stops. The Seahawks didn’t do enough on offense.

Reversible

The 49ers took the ball back with 3:35 left in the fourth quarter to take an eight-point lead. The Seahawks defense needed a stop. Instead, San Francisco converted two third downs, including this 55-yard run from rookie Jordan Mason.

Game play

The Seahawks were hoping the halftime would make a difference, but just two plays into the third quarter, Kittle returned a 54-yard touchdown to extend the 49ers’ lead to 18 points.

Two questions. 1. How does Kittle even open? 2. How come the Seahawks are so bad at tackle?

Double pump-fake tap

I think this is a perfect example of why the 49ers can still be Super Bowl contenders even without Trae Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo. Was Purdy any good? Absolutely. But Shanahan is a big reason why the 49ers have won seven straight games. Check out this game design. Purdy pump fakes left, pump fakes right, then finds Keatley in the middle of the field for a touchdown. The Seahawks defense had no idea what to do.

What’s next?

The 49ers have another road game next week as they take on the Washington Commanders on Saturday in what could be a potential playoff preview. As for the Seahawks, they hit the road on Saturday to take on Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.



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