What we learned as Purdy's monster game sinks Seahawks


SANTA CLARA — Is it really difficult to beat the same team three times in a season?

The 49ers on Saturday made it look simple, as coach Kyle Shanahan's team rallied in the second half to shove the Seattle Seahawks out of the postseason with a 41-23 victory in the first round of the NFC playoffs.

San Francisco treated a lively crowd at Levi’s Stadium to quite a show, as the 49ers advance to the divisional round of the playoffs next weekend against either Minnesota, Tampa Bay or Dallas.

The 49ers swept the NFC West during the regular season, including victories of 27-7 and 21-13 over the Seahawks.

With their latest victory over the Seahawks, the 49ers beat the same team three times in the same season for the first time in franchise history.

Here are the takeaways from the 49ers’ decisive victory:

Purdy’s remarkable postseason debut

Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy shows the poise and composure of an NFL veteran. But his first pass attempt of the game hinted at some jitters in his first postseason start.

Purdy appeared to have Deebo Samuel open deep on the left side, but his pass attempt came out of his hand a little funky and ended up nowhere near the intended target.

One play later, however, Purdy was on the mark with a 19-yard pass to Brandon Aiyuk. And it was mostly good — and historic — for Purdy after that.
Purdy completed 18 of 30 pass attempts for 332 yards with four total touchdowns and zero interceptions.

It was the most passing yards for a 49ers quarterback in the postseason since Joe Montana threw for 357 yards in a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.

Purdy, who began the season as the 49ers’ third-string quarterback, stepped up with a huge game in his first postseason start — the first time the 49ers ever started a rookie quarterback in the playoffs.

He did a little damage with his legs, too.

Purdy had two successful quarterback sneaks on the first dive of the third quarter, the latter of which was a 1-yard touchdown for a 23-17 lead.

It was another incredible performance for Purdy, who has been darn-near perfect since taking over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo on Dec. 4.

No. 1 defense starts slow, finishes strong

Ultimately, the big plays on defense came from the 49ers’ defensive line.

Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu had the strip-sack of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith and Nick Bosa made the recovery.

The 49ers were clinging to a six-point lead in the third quarter and on their heels when Omenihu and Bosa teamed up for the big play. The 49ers’ offense cashed in on the momentum with a seven-play, 70-yard touchdown drive to take a 14-point lead.

After the defense forced a punt, the 49ers extended their lead to 21 points. On the Seahawks’ next drive, cornerback Deommodore Lenoir registered an interception.

But it was not always easy for the 49ers’ defense.

The 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense had a rough first half, as the Seahawks took a 17-16 lead going into the second half.

In 20 drives over their two regular-season games, the 49ers surrendered just one touchdown to the Seahawks. And that came in their final drive in Week 15.

But Seattle did a number on the 49ers’ defense in the first half with touchdowns on back-to-back possessions. And that was the long and short of it.

The long of it came on a 14-play, 78-yard touchdown drive when the Seahawks needed it most, trailing 10-0 in the second quarter. Rookie running back Kenneth Walker got into the end zone with a 7-yard scoring run.

After the 49ers kicked a field goal for a 13-7 lead, Seattle took the lead when 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ gamble did not pay off.

The 49ers sent six pass-rushers at Smith, whose protection held up. Smith lofted a deep pass down the left sideline for DK Metcalf, who had a step on cornerback Charvarius Ward.

The pitch-and-catch resulted in a 50-yard touchdown that gave Seattle its first lead of the game.

The McCaffrey-Deebo tandem on display

The 49ers went a full six plays with handing the ball off or throwing a pass intended for running back Christian McCaffrey. On the seventh play, McCaffrey blasted through a wide-open hole off the left tackle for a 68-yard gain.

It has been a while since McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel were on the field and clicking. They teamed up to put on a show against the Seahawks.

General manager John Lynch is looking better all the time for making the midseason trade that sent McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers to the 49ers for second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-round draft picks.

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McCaffrey’s second career postseason game was a memorable one. He rushed for 119 yards on 15 attempts.

He also teamed up with Purdy to give the team a 10-0 lead in the first quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run. Samuel did a little bit of everything, too.

Samuel, in effect, ended the game early in the fourth quarter when he took a pass from Purdy, picked up a block from Brandon Aiyuk and tip-toed 74 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.

Samuel caught 6 passes for 133 yards, while also contributing 32 yards rushing on three carries.

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