The 49ers took over after halftime Saturday afternoon against the Commanders at Levi’s Stadium and extended the NFL’s longest winning streak to eight games with a 37-20 win.
George Kittle was the catalyst for the second-half breakout, catching a 34-yard long ball up the seam from Brock Purdy on third down early in the third quarter, then catching a short pass from the rookie quarterback and taking it 33 yards for another score two possessions later.
Those scores turned a 7-7 halftime score into a two-score lead, and Washington never came closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
The San Francisco defense forced consecutive turnovers to open the fourth quarter — a Nick Bosa sack fumble recovered by Jordan Willis, then a Jimmie Ward interception that chased Washington’s Taylor Heineke from the game.
The 49ers’ other touchdown also came on a long play, as well: Speedster Ray-Ray McCloud III opened the scoring with a second-quarter end-around that he took 71 yards down the right sideline.
With the win, the 49ers kept pace with the Minnesota Vikings, whom they trail for the No. 2 seed in the NFC standings by one game with two weeks left in the season.
On Charvarius Ward leaving the game:
He just told us he was feeling nauseous, so once he tod us that with what happened last week, we sent him in to the doctor so they went through all that stuff.
On Nick Bosa:
Whenever you have a pass rusher who’s as good as Nick, those are the guys who have the best way to change the game … On that last drive it was so hard for me because I got to do my job and take them out, and I know he’s gonna look at me right away when I do that because he wants to keep adding to his sacks, but I had to do that for the Niners.
On Brock Purdy’s oblique and rib injuries:
He’s definitely not 100 percent, so yeah, I think it affects him a little bit.
On George Kittle:
He started out the beginning of the year a little banged up, training camp and early in the year. Took a little time to come back and just get back in football shape but he’s playing great right now in the run and pass game.
On the long Kittle TD catch:
Kittle was supposed to go across the field, Ray-Ray was supposed to run a post. The middle of the field was wide open and Kittle’s natural reaction was to go to wide open spots. I think that’s probably why Brock hesitated a quick sec because it looked weird with two guys there, but he still had a rip and I’m just glad that Ray-Ray didn’t try to intercept it for him at that time.
On whether the McCloud touchdown run was the same as a play on which Deebo Samuel scored earlier this season:
No, it’s the exact same. It’s in our dead series. It was fun to install it because I can mess with Deebo.
On Jordan Willis:
You’re not going to hear him much. He’s our silent assassin but you guys saw how he sta
On whether defenses play Purdy differently from Garoppolo:
No, not really. I think it’s pretty similar.
I think he always knew he had command from the beginning but once you go through these weeks, it’s not just the games but also just getting used to how he is on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, the whole routine of the week.
On not putting Washington away:
To be in there 7-7 at halftime, I was frustrated. Come out, I thought it was great, you know, we had two explosive drives. … Anytime you get the ball that much in the red zone and you only have one touchdown to show for it, that’s disappointing.
On having a day off Sunday for Christmas:
Knowing that you’re in the playoffs makes it a little bit more fun, but it’d be nice to have a normal week after once tomorrow’s over.
On message to the team after clinching the NFC West last week:
I didn’t talk to them much about the seeds. I just talked to them about what I believe that you can’t turn football on and off, and yeah, we got to be smart and make any decision that we think is smart for the organization but we’re in this position because of who we are and let’s not change who we are because we’re already in the playoffs.
On his touchdown run:
Kyle said you gotta do better than Deebo … It’s not me making a play, honestly, it was the line. McGlinchey in the front, Christian making his block, Mike pancaking his dude, Willie Snead sealing the end.
On Kittle’s TD down the middle:
I’d seen him a little early, so I’m like damn George, where you going? But he was a little close to me so I wasn’t going to jump him to go get it and the ball’s all over the place.
He has big cojones, man … Josh Allen and Ben Roethlisberger and I hit him like oh, lord, he gives me the same vibration.
All game we had opportunities to really snuff them out and I think about that first half, just more playing more assignment-sound and getting more knock
On fourth downs:
Shoot, you want to try us on fourth down, go ahead. We take those as takeaways.
On Nick Bosa:
It’s insane the level he’s playing at and that’s a big reason why our defense is performing the way it is, because we know that it takes all 11 and the rush and the coverage work together. Knowing that he’s on the field and has an opportunity to get home, you get stickier coverage, you’re able to sit on routes and, you know, he’s just been playing out of his mind.
On keeping focused:
If you’re the best, you gotta be the best day-in and day-out. It doesn’t just happen.
On Jordan Willis:
J-Will, that’s my guy because that’s true, he is the silent assassin. The way he works and the way he plays on gameday, it’s fun to watch when you go back and look at the tape.
On his national anthem tradition:
I usually try to look for the opposing quarterback or one of the offensive players, you know, see if there’s a staredown that can happen and if they look away I’m like, we got him.
On the deep TD pass to Kittle:
I saw George go down the middle, but I was just trying to keep the ball really down towards the middle to the left side of the field for Ray Ray to run away from the corner and all of a sudden George hit second gear and like stole it, basically.
On facing Bosa when he was the scout team QB:
It was frustrating at times just dropping back and seeing Nick right in my face and having to make a move almost every play but honestly it did help.
On his rib and oblique injury:
I did feel it a little bit more against Seattle. There were certain weird movements that I would feel my rib and what not. But for this game, I felt great.
On getting comfortable:
I don’t really think about ‘Oh, I’m getting more and more comfortable’ or anything like that. I still have that same fire and drive as before I wasn’t playing. I want to go in and I want to prove (myself to) my teammates and earn the respect every play, every snap, every drive.
On settling for field goals:
We hold ourselves to a standard where, man, we should be scoring touchdowns, not only field goals time and time again. But at the same time you got to be smart, not turn the ball over, put points up on the board and then trust the defense to make stops again.
On George Kittle’s late catch at the 1-yard line
Wish I would have had him catch that third touchdown. I threw it a little short but just can’t get a Hawkeye too many touchdowns in a game.
On if he feels bad about his first TD catch:
Why, because I Grinched it? No. I think I’ve had five touchdowns taken away from penalties, so I’m gonna get them whenever they’re available.
On the TD and Ray-Ray McCloud:
I thought it was a safety trying to get the ball and it actually scared me. And then he was in my ear going ‘You stole my touchdown’ and I was like ‘My bad… ha, not really’.
On confidence in Purdy:
Brock’s confidence that he brings in every single day makes us all very confident.
On his second touchdown:
I called touchdown in the huddle.
On Bosa’s impact on the defense:
When you have to gameplan for Nick Bosa, it just allows all those guys to be so much better … I think today sealed his defensive MVP … He’s the most talented player on the field, I think, besides Trent Williams but I don’t think they’re gonna give an MVP to an offensive lineman.
On the last play where he was down at the 1:
I will say if he didn’t go to Iowa State, I think it would have led me on the last play and it would have been a touchdown but I’ll let that one slide because it’s Christmas … I already told him the joke that I just told you guys so he came here prepared. He stole my material.
On his forced fumble:
It was huge. whenever you can strip it, it’s definitely a big play for the defense.
On if he is eyeing the NFL sack record (22 1/2 by Michael Strahan):
Maybe. Not the main thing on my mind but I’m kind of eyeing the 19 1/2 more than that. Aldon (Smith).
On what’s made him more comfortable to perform:
Just more reps and being able to continue to learn each and every week and plan out my rush plan each and every week to tailor to who I’m playing.
On making such a big impact:
Any player on the defense or offense could make that impact and it’s always fun when it’s you.
I’m super impressed with just how he’s matured so quickly and I think it helps that he started four years in college and I think for a rookie to come in and just have that command, everybody’s got his back.
On being in the DPOY race, probably the favorite:
I’ve played this game since I was 7 years old and played d-line the entire way through. I’ve watched guys throughout the years and just wanted to be in that position. I finally feel like I’m kind of living out my dream.
On Shanahan taking him out on the last drive:
I understand he does it. I was just giving him some guff for it. But we have a lot bigger goals than winning this game.
On Shanahan’s message to the defense:
He sees openings in some of the plays. He picked out like four or five and he just kind of showed us that there are some holes at certain times that we need to shore up.
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