American Football

4 observations from the 49ers playoff win: Feed the YAC Bros and good things happen

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4 observations from the 49ers playoff win: Feed the YAC Bros and good things happen
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Plus, the defense righted their wrongs.

The 49ers steamrolled the Seattle Seahawks 41-23 to move on to the Divisional round. A slithery Brock Purdy extended drives, DeMeco Ryans’ defense cleaned things up in the second half, Charles Omenihu came alive for two sacks, and the Yac Bros continue to handle business.

A slithery Brock Purdy leads the 49er’s offense

Kyle Shanahan’s quarterbacks have tended to be statues throughout his six years as head coach for San Francisco, except for Trey Lance and Brock Purdy. Purdy’s slithery pocket presence extended plays and even helped him scramble for a 13-yard run.

Purdy’s movement minimized quarterback hits and allowed the YAC Bros to have scramble drills for large gains. A quarterback is required to improvise with all these complex coverages and defensive line stunts in today’s NFL.

Purdy’s scramble touchdown to Elijah Mitchell put the nail in the coffin even though Shanahan’s offense would score two more times. Purdy talked about the play below.

“It was just a broken play, you know I was trying to go left to B.A and go through my progression from there it just broke down and so Elijah did his job in terms of staying in protection then if he had time that he could get out and he was my last read. So the frontside just broke down and when I scrambled Elijah was where he needed to be.”

This sounds like an NFL veteran breaking a play down. Purdy’s poise continues to thrive and will be greatly tested with Dan Quinn’s defense next week.

DeMeco Ryans’ defense rights their wrongs

Halting NFL offenses isn’t easy unless you’re DeMeco Ryans. Ryans’ defense forced two three-and-outs to start the game but ran into problems slowing down Kenneth Walker and DK Metcalf later in the second quarter.

A questionable Robbie Gould squib kick with 13 seconds remaining in the first half gave Seattle great field position. As if that wasn’t enough, Jimmie Ward did the defense no favors by tackling Geno Smith after Smith started his slide on the following play. The costly penalty allowed Seattle to go up three points after a 56-yard field goal.

Things would drastically change in the second half after the 49ers forced a takeaway in Seattle’s red zone. The second and third levels of the defense tightened up against the pass after Shanahan’s vicious rushing attack kept Seattle off the field. Both Charles Omenihu and Deommodre Lenoir forced turnovers, and the 49ers must keep this trend going into the divisional round.

Opposing rushing attacks seem to “gash” the 49ers when they get over 100 yards, but in reality, Seattle did not have a rush longer than 11 yards. The secondary is vulnerable to explosive plays and will have to keep their eyes peeled with Dak Prescott and company coming to town next week.

Charles Omenihus’s strip-sack changed the game

The 49ers ran the ball down Seattle’s throat to open the second half with a touchdown drive. However, on the following drive, Geno Smith drove the Seahawk’s offense down to San Francisco’s 15-yard line with ease. Ryans’ unit had no answer for Smith until Charles Omenihu strip-sacked him on 3rd and 14. This shifted the momentum for the better, and the 49ers would never look back.

Omenihu finished the game with two sacks and continued his Wildcard terror from last year. The 2023 free agent may have priced himself out of the 49ers range. He ended the season with career-highs in sacks and tackles. The 49ers needed another playmaker to step up with Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa, and Omenihu did just that.

Feed the Yac Bros, and good things happen

Purdy deserves credit for settling in his first playoff start, but the formula to score points with this offense is to give the Yac Bros the ball. Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle all made key contributions.

The offense looks better when Kittle touches the ball. Shanahan must make him a focal point against Dallas’ mild linebackers. McCaffrey’s 68-yard run helped the 49ers get off their offensive rut. Samuel erupted for his highest receiving total of the season with 133. Aiyuk’s fourth-quarter drop is another reason he hasn’t moved into the elite category. We can’t ignore the damage he creates when he touches the ball, but he has to be consistent.

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