The 49ers extended their winning streak to eight games, matching their longest since 2019, with their 37-20 win over the Washington Commanders. The eight-game win streak is tied for their fourth-longest in franchise history, tied with their streaks from 1992, 2011, and 2019.
It was another big day for the defense, especially for Nick Bosa, who frequently appears as a winner.
Winner: DE Nick Bosa
With his two sack performance against the Commanders, Bosa set a new career-high with 17.5 sacks. If we want to get technical, Bosa should be sitting at 18.5, but his two-point conversion attempt sack of Carson Wentz doesn’t count because the NFL says so.
His biggest play of the game was his fourth-quarter strip sack of Taylor Heinicke, with the 49ers up only 10. Bosa came around the edge and was able to nick the ball out of Heinicke’s hand, popping straight up and into the hands of Jordan Willis, setting the 49ers’ offense inside the Washington 15-yard-line.
Bosa is now only five sacks off of Michael Strahan’s sack record with just two games remaining, which might be a bit of a stretch. But, then again, if there’s a pass rusher who could go on a run like that, it’d be Bosa.
Winner: TE George Kittle
We could almost take Kittle’s winner section from last week’s winners and losers against Seattle and apply it here. Another massive game from the 49ers tight end with 120 receiving yards on six receptions with another pair of touchdowns.
After only having one multi-touchdown game in his first five seasons, Kittle has three this season, with two coming in his last two games. His 120 yards are also his first 100-yard game since he had 151 yards against the Bengals last December.
Winner: 17-play drives that result in zero points
The 49ers’ defense played another solid game despite allowing the most points they’ve allowed since allowing 44 points to the Chiefs. However, their most impressive feat from Saturday may have come on the Commanders’ longest drive of the game.
It was still early in a 0-0 tie with 5:20 left in the first quarter, with the Commanders starting their third drive of the game after back-to-back three-and-outs. Washington slowly moved the ball downfield, converting two third-and-longs, and found themselves inside the 49ers’ five-yard-line.
A Brian Robinson four-yard run on second-and-goal got Washington down to the one, but the 49ers defense held on a Robinson third-down run, and an Antonio Gibson fourth-down run held a 17-play, 84-yard drive that took 10:48 off the clock to zero points.
Winner: Ray-Ray McCloud
So, how did the offense respond to the stop? Just with their longest-scoring play of the season. Kyle Shanahan took a page out of the Deebo Samuel playbook and used Ray-Ray McCloud to get the same results on Saturday. The offense was able to get some space off the goal line and converted a third-and-9 with a 15-yard Brock Purdy completion to Jauan Jennings.
McCloud took the second down carry in motion and was able to find the hole that was opened by Spencer Burford, Mike McGlinchey, and George Kittle and was gone from there. The 71-yard run was the longest play of his career and nearly doubled his career rushing yard total as he entered Saturday with 91 career rushing yards.
Loser: That Jauan Jennings drop
Jennings’ second-quarter drop that resulted in Purdy’s first interception as a starter had a chance to really change the game on Saturday. The 49ers had a chance to score before the end of the first half, forcing a Commanders’ punt with about three minutes left in the half.
Purdy hit Jennings with a low but catchable ball, but Jennings couldn’t bring it up but attempted to catch the ball off the initial deflection. On his second attempt to catch the ball, Jennings tipped the ball in the air into the hands of Darrick Forrest. The Commanders’ offense responded with a touchdown to tie the game going into the half.
It turned out not to be too big of a miscue from Jennings, with the 49ers winning by multiple scores, but the drops are slowly becoming a concern.
Loser: The 49ers’ red zone offense
The score on Saturday could have been more one-sided had the 49ers taken advantage of the plethora of chances the Commanders gave them in the second half. The 49ers’ offense had four consecutive second-half drives finishing inside the red zone, resulting in three field goals and a touchdown.
The drives ended at Washington’s 8, 5, 17, and 1, with the last resulting in a Christian McCaffrey touchdown. At the same time, the 49ers were able to extend their lead from 21-14 to 30-14 with the three field goals, leaving plenty of points on the board.
Just like the Jennings drop, it didn’t hurt the 49ers on Saturday, but they are a bottom-10 team in the red zone, scoring a touchdown on 51 percent of their opportunities.