March 29, 2023

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Brock Purdy threw two more long touchdown passes to George Kittle as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Washington Commanders 37-20 on Saturday for their eighth straight win.

Purdy continued his impressive play since taking over the injured Jimmy Garoppolo early in Week 13, looking much better than expected for the player who was picked last in this year’s NFL draft.

He has thrown two TD passes in four straight games for the 49ers (11-4) and has won all three of his starts as San Francisco pressures Minnesota in the race for the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

Taylor Heinicke threw two TD passes for Washington (7-7-1) but also lost a fumble and threw a fourth quarter interception. He was replaced by Carson Wentz after his second giveaway.

The Commanders are winless in their last three games, but still have a half-game lead over Seattle and Detroit in the race for the final playoff spot in the NFC.

The Niners broke open the game in the third quarter thanks to more big plays from Purdy. They took the opening kickoff of the second half and cruised to the starting scoreline as Kittle opened deep for a 34-yard score.

Kittle scored again later in the quarter on a 33-yard fly and ran to make it 21-7. Kittle also had two TD catches last week, giving him a career-high eight this season.

San Francisco capitalized on big plays all game and also scored their first touchdown on a 71-yard end round by Ray Ray McCloud.

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Nick Bosa and the Niners defense did the rest of the work, with Bosa setting up one field goal by Robbie Gould with a sack of Heinicke and San Francisco adding another after Jimmie Ward was intercepted deep in Washington territory.

Playing for the first time since Week 6, Wentz threw a 20-yard TD pass to Curtis Samuel, but it was too little and too late for Washington.


The Commanders took advantage of some tipped passes to tie the game late in the first half.

The first came when Purdy appeared to complete a throw over the middle to Jauan Jennings. But Jennings wobbled the ball and tapped it straight to Darrick Forrest for an interception.

On the ensuing drive, Washington converted a third and five on a pass that wobbled Jahan Dotson before catching a ricochet.

That set up Heinicke’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Dotson to make it 7-7 at halftime.


Both teams were stopped in fourth place in the red zone in the first half.

San Francisco drove to 15 on its first drive before Christian McCaffrey was stopped by David Mayo for no gain on a fourth-and-1 roll from fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Washington got on the 1 early in the second quarter as Antonio Gibson was crammed into fourth by Fred Warner and Javon Kinlaw.

The commanders were stopped again in the third quarter on fourth and 1 of their own 34.


Commanders: LB Jon Bostic (pector) left the game in the second half and did not return. … DE James Smith-Williams left for head injury investigation in the fourth quarter.

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49ers: CB Charvarius Ward went to the locker room feeling sick in the second half, but returned to the game.


Commanders: Host Cleveland on January 1.

49ers: Visit Las Vegas on January 1.


AP NFL: and