It was a battle of the bests on Monday night with the NFC and AFC leaders, the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, clashing at Levi's® Stadium. For San Francisco, this Christmas night game marked just the second time in franchise history the team has suited up on December 25 and their first time playing on the holiday in over 30 years.
The 49ers kept it a one possession game headed into the second half, but ultimately fell short after five turnovers, over 100 yards in penalties and surrendering two touchdowns and a field goal in the third quarter.
Here are seven takeaways from Monday night's game:
Defensive Front Puts Up the First Points
San Francisco's defense got the 49ers on the board with a safety early in the first quarter. On 1st-and-10 from Baltimore's 20 yard line, defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Chase Young and linebacker Fred Warner generated pressure, forcing Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson back into the end zone and into a tripped up official. Jackson attempted a pass while falling and was called for intentional grounding, resulting in a safety for San Francisco. The team took the 2-0 lead with 10:24 left in the first quarter.
49ers Offense Makes Uncharacteristic Mistakes
San Francisco's high octane offense struggled against the Ravens. For the first time in Purdy's two-year NFL career, the 49ers quarterback threw four interceptions in a single game. Purdy was picked off by Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton on the 49ers first offensive series on a pass attempt to wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the end zone. Interceptions two and three came in the second quarter, on a batted ball and the other on an off-schedule play to tight end George Kittle. On that very same play, running back Christian McCaffrey was flagged for a chop block that added to the back of the interception return to set up Baltimore on the 49ers 20 yard line. San Francisco's defense did an excellent job of limiting the Ravens through those three extra possessions, allowing just 10 points off those three turnovers in the first half.
Purdy's fourth-and-final interception came early in the third quarter on a pass attempt to Christian McCaffrey. Dropped passes also accounted for a portion of the offensive unit's trouble with multiple receivers letting passes hit the ground. To further stall production, the offense racked up 10 penalties for 102 yards on the night.
CMC Punches in TD No. 21
The veteran running back provided a boost to the 49ers offense in the final minutes of the first half with a nine-yard rushing touchdown to pull San Francisco within one point. McCaffrey was the hot hand on the 49ers final offensive series of the first half accounting for five plays and 65 yards of the six-play, 67-yard touchdown scoring drive. The nine-yard score marks McCaffrey's 14th rushing touchdown and 21st touchdown of the season, bringing him within two scores of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice's single-season touchdown record.
Cornerback Jason Verrett Takes His First Snaps Since 2021
The 49ers veteran cornerback played the entirety of the first defensive series of the second half, marking his first snaps in a red and gold uniform since the 2021 season opener against the Detroit Lions. Verrett suffered back-to-back season-ending injuries the past two years, sustaining an ACL tear in 2021 and then tearing his Achilles in practice during November of the 2022 season. Verrett spent a portion of the 2023 season on the Houston Texans practice squad before re-signing with the 49ers in mid-December.
Hargrave Makes Splash Plays in Week 16 Return
After missing Week 15 due to a hamstring injury, the veteran defensive lineman returned to his starting position on the interior portion of the D-line. On the final Ravens possession of the first half, Hargrave sacked Jackson for a loss of five yards, and the next play, he batted down a pass intended for Zay Flowers. San Francisco was ultimately able to force the Ravens to settle for the field goal to cap off that 11-play, 64-yard drive and trailed 16-12 headed into the half. He closed out the game with three total tackles (one tackle for loss), a sack and pass breakup.
Injuries of the Game
All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams exited the game in the third quarter with a groin injury and was initially listed as questionable to return. He was replaced by third-year pro Jaylon Moore for the remainder of the game. Moore has experience filling in for Williams this season, stepping in for the veteran offensive lineman in Weeks 7 and 8 while working through an ankle injury. Moore also left the game early, walking to the locker room in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a head injury. Head coach Kyle Shanahan later delivered the update that Moore suffered a concussion.
Quarterback Sam Darnold Takes Over
Purdy suffered a stinger midway through the fourth quarter of Monday night's game and did not reenter the contest. Quarterback Sam Darnold took over quarterback duties for a series and half. He closed out the game connecting on 8-of-14 passes for 81 yards, a touchdown and interception. Shanahan went on to note that at this moment, there isn't fear of a serious injury to Purdy.