49ers Report Card

49ers grades in NFC No. 1 playoff seed-clinching win vs. Commanders

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LANDOVER, Md. — The fun and excitement did not end for the 49ers after walking off the field with a 27-10 victory over the Washington Commanders on Sunday.

Coaches, players and staff members huddled around a couple of televisions in the 49ers’ locker room to watch the closing seconds of the Arizona Cardinals' victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

And with the Eagles’ unexpected loss, the 49ers clinched the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed entering the final week of the regular season. 

The 49ers let an early 10-point lead get away, but they dropped the hammer in the second half to pull away.

Here is the report card from this memorable day, as the 49ers secure the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the 10th time in franchise history:

Rushing offense

Running back Elijah Mitchell got healthy at precisely the right time for the 49ers.

Mitchell showed flashes Sunday of his rookie season, when he led the 49ers in rushing. And after missing 18 games the past two seasons due to injuries, Mitchell stepped into a big role in the second half.

He gained 80 yards and a touchdown on 17 rushing attempts after Christian McCaffrey left with a calf strain. McCaffrey had 64 yards on 14 rushes before he was sidelined.

The 49ers had 39 rushing attempts for 184 yards for a 4.7-yard average.

Grade: A

Passing offense

Just six days after his worst game, quarterback Brock Purdy on Sunday set the 49ers’ single-season passing record.

Purdy completed 22 of 28 pass attempts for 230 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was a sparkling 124.7.

The offensive line supplied Purdy with great pass protection, as he was not sacked in the game.

Purdy and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk hooked up on the play of the game, an improvised 17-yard touchdown pass after Purdy scrambled around to buy time.

Aiyuk continued his big season with seven receptions for 114 yards. Deebo Samuel caught five passes for 37 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown on a shovel pass from Purdy.

Grade: A

Rushing defense

The Commanders were playing from behind for a good portion of the game, so they never stuck with their run game despite some success running between the tackles.

Brian Robinson had 44 yards on nine carries to lead the Commanders.

Dre Greenlaw led the 49ers’ defense with 10 tackles, and Nick Bosa registered two backs for loss.

Grade: B

Passing defense

Cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir both intercepted Commanders quarterback Sam Howell, who got the start after Jacoby Brissett was unable to play due to a hamstring injury.

Ward’s interception signaled the turning point of the game, as the Commanders were threatening to pull to within three points early in the fourth quarter. Ward picked off Howell at the 49ers’ 2-yard line.

Howell completed 17 of 28 passes for just 169 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Grade: A-minus

Special teams

Punter Mitch Wishnowsky had a 37-yard net on his two punts, but he landed both inside the 20-yard line. 

Kicker Jake Moody made field-goal attempts of 38 and 22 yards. And he remained perfect on the season on extra points, going 3 for 3.

Ronnie Bell handled two punt returns, averaging 8.5 yards per return.

Grade: B-plus


Coach Kyle Shanahan leaned on the running game against the Commanders, and that did not change when Mitchell took over for McCaffrey. The 49ers’ passing plan was ultra-efficient.

Defensively, the 49ers deployed a sound attack that made the Commanders string together long drives in order to score.

Grade: A-minus


The 49ers overcame a sluggish first half to pull away for the decisive victory.

The major areas of emphasis coming off their Week 16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday were to eliminate giveaways and penalties.

The 49ers followed through on both accounts. They won the turnover battle 2-0, and had just three penalties for 20 yards.

Grade: A-minus

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