The San Francisco 49ers are rolling, closing out the 2022 calendar year with a 37-20 victory over the Washington Commanders in Week 16, and the rest of the football world has taken notice. For the first time this season, head coach Kyle Shanahan and the team have claimed the No. 1 spot in the newly released NFL power rankings. The 49ers have been sitting in the No. 2 spot for the last couple weeks, improving this time around with their eighth-straight win of the season.
San Francisco is two weeks removed from their division-clinching win in Seattle, however, this team still has plenty to play for with the No. 2 seed still up for grabs in the NFC. Despite already punching their ticket to the postseason, Shanahan and the players have been vocal about their push in the home stretch, and they demonstrated that on Saturday with another big team win against the Commanders, who have their own playoff aspirations.
On the offensive side of the ball, the 49ers rookie quarterback continued to shine, completing 15-of-22 pass attempts for 234 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Brock Purdy has now thrown two touchdowns in each of his four appearances for the 49ers and has delivered 100+ passer rating performances in all three of his starts. In Week 16, Purdy hit George Kittle for 27-yard and 33-yard touchdown passes, and Ray-Ray McCloud III and Christian McCaffrey each added rushing scores to help get the 49ers to 37 points on the day. Defensively, Nick Bosa had 2.0 sacks (plus a takedown of Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz in a two-point conversion attempt), four quarterback hits and seven total tackles. The team also produced two takeaways with an interception from Jimmie Ward and a forced fumble resulting from one of Bosa's sacks and recovered by Jordan Willis.
Here's a look at the latest NFL power rankings from several national outlets:
Around the NFL Writer Dan Hanzus
"The 49ers are a fully-formed death machine destroying everything in their way. The defense is led by Nick Bosa, who likely clinched NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors with a dominant performance in Saturday's 37-20 win over the Commanders. Bosa finished with two sacks and a forced fumble and now has a career-high 17.5 sacks with two games to play. Brock Purdy, meanwhile, is 3-0 as a starter after another productive game that featured two long TD passes to George Kittle. 'He's just getting the ball to us,' Kittle said. 'He's great with the football. He puts it on target. He allows guys to run with it." This is exactly what Kyle Shanahan asks from his QB in this offense."
NFL Writer Nick Wagoner on a 49ers "Defining Moment" (From Week 8 vs. Los Angeles Rams)
"There are plenty of moments to pick from, including Christian McCaffrey's touchdown pass earlier in the game, but this catch not only spurred the Niners to a win against the Rams but began the turnaround of their season. General manager John Lynch has called McCaffrey a 'force multiplier' for the many ways he affects a game, and McCaffrey provided a touchdown three ways against the Rams. The leaping catch served as a harbinger for the current eight-game winning streak that has elevated the 49ers from 3-4 no-man's-land to NFC West champs and legitimate Super Bowl contenders."
Fox Sports: 5
NFL Writer David Helman
"It's only logical to assume a team starting a rookie quarterback has a ceiling — but we sure haven't seen it yet. The Niners are destroying teams by an average score of 32-14 since Brock Purdy stepped in for Jimmy Garoppolo, and the combination of their run game and their defense makes it very easy to believe this is a sustainable model of success."