Brock Purdy and the 49ers breeze previous Seahawks to clinch NFC West

SEATTLE — The San Francisco 49ers clinched the NFC West with a 21-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night time. Rookie Brock Purdy, the Niners’ third beginning quarterback this season, led the crew to a highway win over a division rival 4 days after beating Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first NFL begin.

Purdy threw for 2 touchdowns, whereas working again Christian McCaffrey rushed for an additional after the Seahawks misplaced a fumble. San Francisco’s protection saved quarterback Geno Smith and the Seahawks’ offense out of the top zone till the ultimate minutes of the sport.

Whereas the Niners will proceed to struggle for playoff seeding within the NFC, the Seahawks’ playoff possibilities drastically declined after the loss. The Seahawks have misplaced 4 of their final 5 video games and face the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and New York Jets within the subsequent two weeks.

San Francisco 49ers

For the second time in 4 years, the 49ers are NFC West division champions.

And now the enjoyable begins.

The Seahawks have lengthy been a thorn within the Niners’ facet, particularly at Lumen Discipline. However the Niners, led by one other stellar efficiency from McCaffrey, vanquished their most problematic foe with relative ease Thursday night time to increase their profitable streak to seven video games.

At 10-4 and 5-0 within the NFC West division, the Niners can drop no decrease than the No. 3 seed within the NFC postseason image, which means coach Kyle Shanahan and his employees can have a little bit of a balancing act to drag off within the season’s ultimate three weeks.

In concept, the Niners may nonetheless catch the Philadelphia Eagles for the No. 1 general spot, however realistically, they’re unlikely to leap any increased than the No. 2 spot. Because it stands, the 10-3 Minnesota Vikings are a half-game in entrance of them however with an 8-2 file within the NFC, the Niners maintain a possible tiebreaker in the event that they end with the identical file as Minnesota.

Shanahan, no stranger to vital accidents, may decide to handle the workload of some key gamers over the ultimate three weeks. However he in all probability will not so long as the No. 2 seed is in play. What’s extra, Purdy may use as many snaps as potential earlier than embarking on his first playoff journey.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Shanahan mentioned. “I mean this isn’t our final goal by any means. I’m very proud of our team and what we accomplished throughout the year to get to this. Our goal is to get into the tournament and we accomplished that today, but now it’s all trying to set that up to be the best situation we can and hopefully get some of our guys back, too, in the process.”

For now, the Niners can get pleasure from a “mini bye” earlier than their Christmas Eve conflict with the Washington Commanders and indulge in celebrating one other division title in Seattle’s residence stadium.

QB breakdown: Purdy was listed as questionable with a rib and indirect damage this week, however it could have been laborious to inform from his efficiency in opposition to the Seahawks. With McCaffrey main the best way, Shanahan schemed up some straightforward seems to be for Purdy to tight finish George Kittle, and Purdy was once more largely poised and on course.

He completed 17-of-26 for 217 yards with two scores and no interceptions for a passer score of 117.0. He additionally turned the second rookie quarterback in franchise historical past to win his first two begins, becoming a member of Scott Bull circa 1976.

Promising development: Kittle has remained as integral to the Niners’ offense as at all times, however that hasn’t proven within the cross recreation as usually as years previous. He completed with 4 catches for 93 yards with two scores on Thursday night time. With receiver Deebo Samuel nursing a sprained left knee and ankle, the Niners want Kittle to provide extra and provide a complement to McCaffrey. Thursday night time was a step in the fitting path.

Pivotal play: The Niners managed the sport for many of the first half however struggled to increase their lead, seemingly leaving the door open for Seattle to leap in entrance simply earlier than halftime. With the Seahawks shifting the ball late within the second quarter, working again Travis Homer caught a brief cross and tried to search out room within the open discipline earlier than he was hit by cornerback Jimmie Ward. Niners linebacker Dre Greenlaw converged quickly after, jarring the ball free. San Francisco cornerback Charvarius Ward recovered it and raced 40 yards to Seattle’s 6-yard line, and McCaffrey scored two performs later to make it 14-3 and successfully put the sport away.

Subsequent recreation: vs Commanders (4:05 p.m. ET, Dec. 24)

Seattle Seahawks

It was obvious in Week 2, when the Seahawks had been held with out an offensive level in a 27-7 loss to the 49ers in Santa Clara.

It was much more evident in latest weeks, because the 49ers widened their lead within the NFC West by blowing out one opponent after one other whereas the Seahawks misplaced three of 4, all to groups with worse information than their very own.

And on Thursday night time at Lumen Discipline, it was apparent as soon as once more how massive the hole has abruptly grow to be between the Seahawks and the division rival they used to personal not way back. Dealing with a third-string quarterback who did not have his finest offensive weapon in Samuel, the Seahawks watched the 49ers clinch the NFC West of their constructing by controlling the sport from begin to end.

The Seahawks are nonetheless a crew on the rise. They’ve a powerful younger core and a ship load of 2023 draft capital, together with what’s more likely to be a top-five choose because of the Russell Wilson commerce. And so they’re nonetheless in playoff competition, with the identical variety of wins as the 2 groups at present occupying the NFC wild-card spots, the New York Giants and Commanders.

However they bought one other reminder Thursday night time of how far they’re going to must go to catch as much as the 49ers. And whereas they’ve a mini bye to lick their wounds, it will not get any simpler with a recreation in opposition to the 10-3 Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Christmas Eve — particularly with large receiver Tyler Lockett anticipated to overlook time after breaking a bone in his hand.

QB breakdown: Smith was so-so, which was about all that might be anticipated of him underneath extraordinarily robust circumstances. He was already dealing with the NFL’s finest protection with a struggling run recreation, and when the Seahawks fell behind massive early on, they had been compelled into throwing mode in opposition to a loaded cross rush. Smith accomplished 31 of 44 passes for 238 yards and a late landing cross to Noah Fant. He additionally threw a pick-six that was negated by an iffy roughing penalty.

Pivotal play: Late within the second quarter, with the Seahawks trailing 7-3, security Quandre Diggs was in excellent place to choose off an over-the-middle Purdy throw. However as a substitute of an interception that arrange Seattle in good discipline place, the ball bounced off Diggs’ palms, resulting in a punt that put the Seahawks at their very own 19-yard line. 4 performs later, Homer misplaced a fumble that the 49ers recovered and returned to the 6-yard line, establishing a straightforward landing. Diggs was a Professional Bowl choice in every of the previous two seasons, however has not performed at that stage this yr.

Troubling development: The Seahawks have now allowed a minimum of 150 dashing yards in 5 straight video games, the most important approach during which their protection has regressed to its early-season kind after a promising turnaround. The 49ers went for 170 on 34 makes an attempt. And whereas the Seahawks had been doing a good job — by their requirements, a minimum of — to maintain McCaffrey from working throughout them for a lot of the night time, they allowed Jordan Mason to bust free for a 55-yard achieve that put the sport away. McCaffrey completed with 108 yards on 26 makes an attempt. Seattle was already taking part in with out its finest run defender in Al Woods, and misplaced his alternative, Bryan Mone, to an ACL damage within the first quarter.

Subsequent recreation: at Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, Dec. 24)