Santa Clara – The 49ers did not disappoint their sellout crowd on Christmas Eve. San Francisco continued their winning ways and left no room for mistakes against a team fighting for a playoff spot. George Kittle scored two touchdowns, Robbie Gould kicked three field goals to dominate the Washington Commanders 37-20.
The 49ers have won eight consecutive games for the first time since 2019. The win today puts them one game behind the Minnesota Vikings for the No. 2 spot and the Philadelphia Eagles who hold the top spot in the NFC. The Commanders are one of five teams at the bottom of the NFC still vying for a Wild Card spot.
“It’s huge. I think we won eight straight in 2019 at the start of the season, so we’ve tied our record, so we have to get a couple more here to go,” said T Mike McGlinchey. “We got two more to go down the stretch and I’m not too worried about the amount of wins that we’ve had in a row, just worried about going 1-0 each week. That’s what we’ve been preaching around here and that’s what we’ve been able to do.”
Both teams got off to a slow start with no score in the first quarter. By the second quarter the 49ers started finding their way. Ray-Ray McCloud danced his way around Washington’s defense to rush for a 71-yard touchdown for an early 7-0 lead. Taylor Heinicke tied the game 7-7 with .22 seconds left in the half when he connected with Jahan Dotson for a 4-yard touchdown.
The second half San Francisco scored three touchdowns and set a pace that was too much for the Commanders. Brock Purdy finished the day going 15-for-22 for 234 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. Purdy is the only rookie QB since 1950 to win his first 3 NFL starts. He’s also the first NFL player since at least 1970 to register 185-or-more passing yds., 2-or-more passing TDs and a passer rating of 114.0-or-higher in each of his first 3 NFL starts.
“Honestly, I just take it as I have a challenge every single week and I have to do it to the best of my ability,” Purdy said. “I want to go in and I want to prove to my teammates and earn the respect every play, every snap, every drive, that kind of mentality.”
Purdy found Kittle twice for a 34 and 33 yard touchdown pass giving the 49ers a 21-7 lead. Kittle registered 6 receptions for 120 yds and 2 touchdowns. He now has 8 on the season which is a single-season career-high and 26 in his career. It also marks the 2nd time this season and the 6th time in his career that Kittle has registered back-to-back games with 1-or-more rec. TDs.
Washington clapped back when Heinicke went deep for a 51-yard pass to Terry McLaurin. That setup McLaurin’s 3-yard touchdown to make it a 21-14 game with over two minutes left in the third. Robbie Gould then kicked a 26, 23 and 35 yard field goal to increase San Francisco’s lead 30-14 in the fourth.
Jimmie Ward intercepted Heinicke’s intended pass for Brain Robinson for the pick 6. But the play was challenged and after further review Ward was down by contact, the touchdown was reversed. Ward registered 4 tackles, 1 PD and 1 INT of Heinicke. The INT gave him a single-season career-high 3 on the season and 7 in his career.
Heinicke went 13-for-18 for 166 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Heinicke was stripped of the ball and sacked by Nick Bosa early in the fourth. Then on the next series he was picked off by Ward. Washington’s head coach Ron Rivera replaced Heinicke with Carson Wentz who connected with Curtis Samuel for a 20-yard touchdown.
“Well, I knew one thing, we were going to throw the ball and we didn’t need them to just tee off on the guy,” said Rivera. “So, we wanted to give Carson a shot and let him throw the ball around a little bit and see where he is.”
Bosa registered 7 tackles, 2.0 sacks and 1 FF of Heinicke today. With 2.0 sacks, it gives him a career and NFL high 17.5 on the season and 41.0 in his career. Bosa now has 11 career games with 1.5-or-more sacks, including 5 in 2022. His 17.5 sacks on the season are tied for the 2nd most in a single season in franchise history and the most by a member of the 49ers since Aldon Smith (19.5) in 2012.
“To have Nick on defense is great,” Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We got so many players out there, but always when you have a pass rusher who’s as good as Nick, those are the guys who have the best way to change the game”.
“He’s a great player,” said Ward. “I don’t know what he can’t do. It’s hard for the opposing offenses to stop him. They try to chip him all the time. I have to also give credit to his other fellow mates that play the D-line because they are getting off too and there’s a lot of sacks in that room and it helps the back end. It helps the second level players and the third level players.”
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