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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Kyle Madson

Notes and observations from 49ers blowout win over Commanders

The 49ers got a much-needed win in Washington after an abysmal Week 16 performance. San Francisco overwhelmed the Commanders 27-10 in a game that could’ve been even more out of hand had the 49ers not made a couple key mistakes in the red zone.

Here are our notes and observations from each quarter of San Francisco’s romp.

First quarter

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

– Interesting. Jon Feliciano is starting at left guard for the 49ers even with Aaron Banks in uniform. Spencer Burford is at right guard.

– First two plays are handoffs to Christian McCaffrey. His first went for nine yards, his second got a couple for the first down.

– Brock Purdy’s first throw comes on a second-and-long. He drilled a throw into Brandon Aiyuk for six to bring up a third-and-manageable. Good timing and placement on that ball.

– Now Purdy takes off to pick up a first down on third-and-3. He did a really nice job navigating the pocket and not panicking as the pressure closed in. It seems early there are no lingering effects of the four-interception game for Purdy.

– The 49ers tried a shot play to Kyle Juszczyk that would’ve gone for a touchdown. That was an excellent throw where only the fullback could get it, but he couldn’t haul it in as he hit the ground.

– Third-and-11 and Purdy puts the ball in harm’s way after scrambling and buying a ton of time. It was nearly intercepted, but it was just far enough out of bounds to carry the defender away where he couldn’t get his feet down.

– Jake Moody is still perfect on field goals inside of 40 yards. He banged through a 38-yard try to put the 49ers ahead 3-0.

– Good pass rush early for San Francisco. Dre Greenlaw had good coverage on RB Brian Robinson on a second-and-3 incompletion.

– A third-and-8 throw by QB Sam Howell was nearly snagged by Deommodore Lenoir for a pick, then it was nearly grabbed by WR Curtis Samuel after Lenoir couldn’t haul it in.

– Another carry for McCaffrey opens the second drive. He’s getting a ton of work today. Wonder if that’s because of Washington’s defense, or because Kyle Shanahan doesn’t want to lean to heavily on his QB after a four-interception game.

– It sounds like there are a ton of 49ers fans in DC.

– Good throw from Purdy to Aiyuk on a third-and-9. He stood in great vs. pressure and delivered a nice ball to a wide open Aiyuk who found room in Washington’s zone.

– Whew. Commanders DL Jonathan Allen is a heck of a player. He stuffed McCaffrey for no gain on a first-and-goal from the 2.

– There’s the touchdown. Pop pass from Purdy on the Samuel jet motion. That’ll go down as a two-yard TD pass for Purdy, his 30th of the season. It’s 10-0 and that was a super impressive drive by San Francisco. They’re getting basically whatever they want offensively in their first two drives. McCaffrey is up to 42 yards on nine carries. Purdy is 8-of-9 for 57 yards and one touchdown.

– Sheesh. A 12-yard carry for Washington RB Brian Robinson is followed up by a monster 22-yard catch-and-run on a screen where he railroaded Charvarius Ward. That could wind up being a problem for San Francisco.

End of first quarter: 49ers 10, Commanders 0

Second quarter

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

– When Washington tries a dropback passing game it has not worked. Their best bet the rest of the way may just be to try and shorten the game and grind it out with a ton of the run game.

– Broken play on maybe something tricky and Nick Bosa crashed in for a sack. That’s 11.5 for him this season.

– Now pressure gets home and forces a bad throw on a third-and-9. Bosa and Chase Young got QB Sam Howell off his spot. If Washington is getting in third-and-long the 49ers should tee off.

– Washington kicker and 49ers legend Joey Slye connects from 47 yards out to make it a 10-3 game. This next offensive drive is one where the 49ers need to put their foot on the gas and not let the Commanders hang around. If Washington is in a must-throw situation it could be a huge problem for them.

– Jordan Mason returning kicks is interesting.

– Purdy is doing a good job finding his checkdowns and easy throws when the downfield throws aren’t there.

– Third-down throw to Ronnie Bell gets knocked away. San Francisco misses Jauan Jennings a lot. He’s missed two games with a concussion. Not that he would’ve changed the outcome on that play in particular —  just noting that his absence has been evident the last couple weeks.

– Logan Ryan sighting! He had a stop on a pop pass to Terry McLaurin. Washington is all horizontal right now since anything vertical requires them to hold off a good 49ers pass rush.

– There’s a vertical shot for Washington on third-and-2. McLaurin just ran past Lenoir and Howell just hit the top of his drop and let it rip. They’re in the red zone.

– The 49ers are getting absolutely bulldozed in the trenches. Washington is at 32 rushing yards on seven carries.

– Back shoulder throw to McLaurin beats Thomas and it’s tied up. That was a dreadful series for the 49ers defense. They got punked by a bad football team.

– Good run on a second-and-2 by McCaffrey in the red zone, but it looked like he got a little shaken up on the play. He might have been bemoaning the fact he didn’t get a TD.

– Woof. First-and-goal from the 2 and McCaffrey gets stuffed for a loss of a couple. It looked at first glance like C Jake Brendel got beat by DL Da’Ron Payne. There’s 35 seconds left in the half.

– Brutal by the 49ers offense. They fail to score after getting a first-and-goal at the 1. This looks like a team playing on a short turnaround after a cross-country flight. Moody’s 22-yard field goal makes it 13-10 before the half, but that’s not a positive result for San Francisco.

Halftime score: 49ers 13, Commanders 10

Third quarter

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

– The Commanders got in a third-and-short and ran a designed roll out that didn’t work as intended. The 49ers defensive front did a really good job stringing the play out and Clelin Ferrell ran Howell out of bounds for a sack.

– Hospital ball from Purdy to Kittle. That was scary. Kittle had to briefly exit after getting whacked high and low.

– Good run by Elijah Mitchell on a first-and-10. He plowed ahead for seven on his first carry of the game. The 49ers need another RB to emerge as a reliable option to take some of the load off McCaffrey.

– Mitchell looks excellent. He’s at 33 yards on five carries.

– Purdy checked into a play that Washington was sitting on. They may need to change up whatever tendency they have that let the Commanders jump on that play for no gain (a facemask penalty gave the 49ers 15 yards anyway).

– The 49ers have done a lot of horizontal stuff on offense. They’re clearly trying to stretch the Commanders on the edges with runs and quick throws.

– LOTS of Mitchell on this first series of the third quarter for San Francisco’s offense. He has seven carries.

– Now there’s a touchdown on his seventh. What a drive for Mitchell as he punches in his first TD of the season. He’s at eight carries for 42 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers just went 83 yards on 12 plays and chewed up 7:15 of game clock. Super impressive for them out of halftime. It’s 20-10, 49ers.

– Second-and-long, no problem for Howell who drills one in to Curtis Samuel for 25 yards. This is a poor, poor showing for the 49ers defense against a QB that was supposed to be benched.

– San Francisco’s defense should be embarrassed. Three consecutive explosive plays for Washington on a deep throw, a screen, and an outside zone run. Really really terrible showing for that unit.

– Now there’s illegal contact on Charvarius Ward on a throw that went well out of the back of the end zone. It should’ve been called on Logan Ryan who inexplicably clobbered a receiver well outside the five-yard window. He’s supposed to be a veteran who isn’t susceptible to that type of play. Yikes.

End of third quarter: 49ers 20, Commanders 10

Fourth quarter

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

– The 49ers badly needed a takeaway and got one when pressure forced Howell to throw a slant a tick early. That allowed Ward to cut in front and snag his fifth interception of the year at the 49ers’ 5. San Francisco’s defense has had a rough go in DC, but that was a big-time play.

– Mitchell is still in with McCaffrey working through a calf injury. The backup RB ripped off 15 yards on the first touch after the INT.

– Dangerous throw by Purdy into the middle of the field to Kyle Juszczyk. He was rolling right then threw back to his left where Juszczyk found a soft spot in the zone.

– What a dime from Purdy to Aiyuk on a deep shot down the right side. The WR is up to 97 yards. That throw was sweet. The DB had good coverage and was stride-for-stride with Aiyuk, but Purdy got it out front of the WR and allowed him to get under it without breaking stride. Any other placement and that ball is either too far out of Aiyuk’s reach or getting knocked away by the DB.

– Ouch. Pop pass to Samuel goes for big yards, but a flag on Ronnie Bell nullifies it.

– Second-and-10 throw to Samuel is well behind the receiver and nearly intercepted. Not Purdy’s best rep.

– The next play might have been Purdy’s best rep. He evaded pressure, directed traffic, and found Aiyuk for a touchdown in the back of the end zone. That was some excellent quarterbacking. It’s 27-10, 49ers and Aiyuk is up to 114 yards on seven catches.

– Another takeaway for the 49ers. This time it’s Deommodore Lenoir snagging an interception off Sam Howell. All the credit to San Francisco’s defense for bouncing back in the second half.

– Lots of runs for Samuel. He’s up to 35 yards on three attempts. He’s also gotten a couple pop passes which go as passes, but work as run plays.

– Purdy broke the 49ers’ single-season passing yards record with a five-yard completion to George Kittle.

– The red zone has been a nightmare for the 49ers, which is inexcusable against this Washington defense that is last in the NFL in points and yards allowed. Mitchell got stuffed on a fourth-and-goal. That’s two trips inside the two that have resulted in a combined three points.

– Bosa nearly came up with a sack in the end zone, but Howell just got the throw away. Lenoir almost had a sick one-handed interception, but he couldn’t secure the catch on the sideline. Really nice defensive turnaround for San Francisco.

– Sam Darnold is in. So is Jordan Mason. This one is over at the two-minute warning. Overall good showing for San Francisco given the circumstances of its schedule.

– Isaiah Oliver came up with a strong open-field stop on Washington’s final fourth down. That’ll allow the 49ers to kneel twice and get out of Week 17 with a W.

Final score: 49ers 27, Commanders 10

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