The first-ever Wild Card game played at Levi's® Stadium ended favorably for the home team. The San Francisco 49ers punched their ticket to the NFC Divisional Round with a 41-23 win over the seventh seeded Seattle Seahawks. The win on Saturday completes the season sweep of their longtime NFC West rivals and marks the 49ers first victory over Seattle in the postseason.
"It's all about taking this team one game at a time," All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner said. "I know we obviously talk about the end goal, but you don't get there unless you win one (game). I'm proud of the guys for just winning one today."
Here are eight takeaways from the Seahawks-49ers game:
Defensive Line Stacks the Sacks
The 49ers strong defensive start to the day began with the unit forcing a quick three-and-out of Seattle's offense. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead contributed a key play in that defensive series, delivering a sack of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith on third-and-two for a loss of eight yards. Seattle punted and was held scoreless until the second quarter.
Charles Omenihu reenergized San Francisco by producing the first takeaway of the game in the final minutes of the third quarter. Omenihu got a strip-sack of Smith on third-and-14 and Nick Bosa recovered the loose ball to set the 49ers up on their own 30 yard line. The 49ers went on to score on the ensuing drive and took the 31-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. He came up with a second sack in the final three minutes of the game.
"Once we got the turnover, that's when I felt like the momentum completely changed for the whole game," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "It took him a while, he was in that pocket for a little bit, the longer they are in there people get open in off-schedule timing, so I was worried the whole time. Then the ball went down on the ground, and all I was asking was, 'Just jump on it please.'"
Christian McCaffrey continues to produce for the 49ers, week in and week out, and he certainly made his presence known in his first postseason appearance for San Francisco. McCaffrey picked up 68 rushing yards on the opening play of the 49ers second offensive series and capped off that same drive with a three-yard receiving touchdown. The three-yard score marks his second-career postseason touchdown, both of which have come through the air. McCaffrey had five carries for 72 yards on the ground and added two catches for 17 yards and a receiving touchdown in the first half. He added another 10 catches for 47 yards in the second half.
Robbie Gould Stays Perfect in Postseason Play
The 49ers veteran historically thrives in the playoffs, and that was no different on Saturday afternoon. Gould went four-for-four to remain perfect in postseason field goal attempts. He improves to 26-for-26 all-time and hit four field goal kicks from 31, 31, 33 and 34 yards out against Seattle.
Danny Gray Delivers Special Teams Gem
San Francisco's rookie wide receiver flashed his speed on a second quarter special teams play to avoid giving the Seahawks favorable field position minutes before the half. Following a false start penalty for the 49ers on their own punt, Gray delivered a big tackle on Seahawks punter DeeJay Dallas immediately after the catch. Seattle opened up their offensive series on San Francisco's 27 yard line and the drive ended with a punt.
Brock Purdy Makes First-Career Playoff Start
The 49ers QB1 made history yet again in San Francisco's Wild Card matchup. He is now the first rookie quarterback in franchise history to start a postseason game, and with the 41-23 win over Seattle, he remains undefeated in his seven appearances. Purdy had a slow start to the day, completing nine of 19 passes for 147 yards, a touchdown and 91.3 passer rating, and finished the day 18-for-30 for 332 yards, three touchdowns and a 131.5 passer rating. Purdy has now recorded a 100+ passer rating in five of his seven appearances. The rookie even scored a one-yard rushing touchdown to close out a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive to open up the second half.
"There was some emotion going into the game, you could just feel it," Purdy said when asked if this playoff game different than his previous starts. "The environment with fans, our teammates, like man, 'This is win or go home.' You did feel that for pregame, but once the game started it was all 11-on-11 (football). I have to do my job. I have to get it to the guys when they are in space and go from there."
Elijah Mitchell Extends the Lead
After recovering the forced fumble late in the third quarter, the 49ers put together a seven-play, 70-yard scoring drive on their possession. The sophomore running back notched his first receiving touchdown of the year, connecting with Purdy on a short pass and reaching the end zone to put the 49ers ahead 31-17 with 14:02 left to go in fourth quarter.
Deebo Samuel Does Deebo Things
The 49ers wideback opened up the postseason with a monster performance, catching six passes for 133 receiving yards and touchdown and adding another three carries for 32 rushing yards. Seventy-four of those receiving yards came on a fourth quarter score that put San Francisco up 38-17 with 11:04 left in the game. True to the 'YAC Bros' form, Samuels had 66 yards-after-catch on that pass play. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had a key block on that play to open up the field for Samuel.
"I saw Brandon once I came around, and I saw the safety up top," Samuel said. "I wanted him think I was going that way when I knew Brandon was going to seal the sideline for me. He did a great job, and I just ran off his block."
Deommodore Lenoir Gets the Pick
On Seattle's next offensive possession following Samuels 74-yard score, the sophomore corner picked off Smith on a pass intended for Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett. The 49ers were able to capitalize on this turnover as well with Gould sinking a final 31-yard field goal on the ensuing possession.