SEATTLE – With a few exceptions, no one in the San Francisco 49ers knows better than defensive lineman Arik Armstead how difficult it is to beat the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field.
During his eight years in the NFL, Armstead was a part of teams that came to Seattle and left with disappointing losses. There was one notable exception in 2019, when the Niners beat the Seahawks in a thriller to clinch the NFC West division and the NFC’s #1 seed.
After Thursday night, there are now two notable exceptions as the Niners jumped into the Seahawks early and secured their 21-13 win. And for the second time in four seasons, the Niners enjoyed a t-shirt and hat celebration at their worst enemy’s stadium.
“I’ve only done it twice in my eight years, that just shows you how hard it is,” Armstead said of clinching the NFC West. “And we wouldn’t have wanted to do it against Seattle any other way. It’s a team that’s been a problem for us since I’ve been here. So it felt absolutely great to do that against them.”
Just like in 2019, the 49ers took the league crown at Seattle’s home ground, making it their quickest finish since 2011 with three games to play. Maybe it’s no coincidence, but San Francisco swept the Seahawks for the first time since the 2011 season.
With the win, the Niners climbed 10-4 to take their seventh straight win, their longest streak since an eight-game hiatus in 2019. A win ensures that they cannot finish their NFC playoffs lower than #3.
The 49ers wrap up the season with a home game against the Washington Commanders on Christmas Eve, a visit to the Las Vegas Raiders on New Year’s Day, and hosting the Arizona Cardinals in the season finale.
Even though San Francisco is battling injuries and can use his rest to recover, he can still realistically grab the 10-3 Minnesota Vikings for 2nd place.
“This is by no means our ultimate goal,” said Coach Kyle Shanahan. “I’m proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished throughout the year. Our goal is to participate in the tournament and we achieved that today, but now everyone is trying to make the best of it.” We can get some of our men back in the process, and hopefully we can get them back.”
At the top of the list of “needs to improve” is rookie point guard Brock Purdy. A short week after suffering a rib and slash problem against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Purdy hasn’t attempted a single pass in practice this week.
In fact, his only shot before Thursday night’s pre-game warm-ups was in a hotel ballroom during the team’s gameday review in Seattle. Shanahan believed that even during the warm-up, there was a possibility that Purdy would not play, or at least not finish the game. Senior quarterback Josh Johnson was on hold.
But Purdy, the 262nd and final pick in the 2022 NFL draft, said he never doubted he would play against the Seahawks.
“I knew I was going to go out to start the game and just get into a beat and try to see how my obliqueness and that sort of thing felt,” Purdy said. “Then make a decision. But my mentality was, ‘Man, I’m coming here to play and get started’.”
Purdy not only finished the game, but put together another strong, bug-free outing. Except for a shot that had to be stopped just before halftime, Purdy never compromised the ball, with the setter score 117.0, completing 17 of 26 passes for 217 yards, finishing without any interference and two goals scored.
Purdy, who started his junior NFL career twice, finished 70% of his tries scoring four goals and without interception, making him the third quarterback to reach those points in the first two since 1950, along with Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Garoppolo. starts.
Purdy even showed off his speed and poise with a late third-place shootout that helped frost the game.
“Watching someone do this was another level for me,” Shanahan said. “You can still understand a few things that were really hard for him in pre-game warm-ups, with his injury last week and his readiness to go today, and let him just play it, as he did, he had a little bit of movement at times to protect the ball… Our team gave him a lot of time before the game. He respected him, but now he respects him even more.”
Purdy also finished with tight end George Kittle four catches for 93 yards and a double touchdown, while the Niners’ defense held his seventh-ranked opponent 17 points or less and running back Christian McCaffrey did his usual heavy lifting.
McCaffrey finished with 32 touches for 138 yards from the offense and scored a quick touchdown. It was his fifth game with more than 100 offensive yards, making it his second mid-season win to hit that number, joining Eric Dickerson, who scored six points for the Indianapolis Colts in 1987, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
It’s no coincidence that the 49ers were 7-0 as McCaffrey stepped into a full-time starting role in Week 8. Before that, San Francisco averaged 20.7 points per game. Since then, the Niners have averaged 27.6 points per game.
It’s been less than two months since the Carolina Panthers traded McCaffrey to the 49ers for future draft picks. McCaffrey went from a struggling NFC South team to the NFC West champions.
“It’s hard to put into words,” McCaffrey said. “It’s been a crazy roller coaster and frankly we still have a lot left to do. But it’s nice to be able to celebrate with a great group of guys and I’m so lucky to be a part of this team.” “