NFL Week 15: 49ers become first NFL team to clinch 2022 division title

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News

 

The San Francisco 49ers became the first team to clinch a division title this season, securing the NFC West with a 21-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night.

Rookie Brock Purdy threw two touchdown passes in his second career start despite playing with an oblique injury to lead the Niners, who are down to their third starting quarterback.

Purdy stepped in two weeks ago when veteran Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot. Garoppolo replaced Trey Lance when he suffered a season-ending injury in September.

Purdy, who outshined Tom Brady in San Francisco’s rout over Tampa Bay last Sunday, didn’t practice ahead of the game because of his injury.

“Honestly, my mindset was even though I haven’t thrown a ball, I played four days ago,” Purdy said. “So I know where guys are supposed to be. I know what it’s like to rip a ball on rhythm and in tight on time.”

The 49ers (10-4) are currently the third seed in the NFC behind the Philadelphia Eagles (12-1) and Minnesota Vikings (10-3). They’ll be counting on Purdy the rest of the way with Garoppolo unlikely to return until possibly late in the playoffs.

“It’s special and everything but, honestly, I’m just another component and one other piece to the team, a guy coming in and just doing what he’s asked of,” Purdy said.

I don’t think Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance get enough credit for what they’ve done. I’m just now coming in the scene where these guys have been here throughout the offseason. For Trey and then Jimmy coming in and winning, for me to come in, I just want to continue what they got rolling.”

Purdy was the last player picked in the NFL draft this year and wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot until beating out Nate Sudfeld for the No. 3 job in training camp.

“He’s definitely one of the most poised rookies I’ve ever had,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Purdy. “He’s been like that since he’s gotten here. From what I hear about him in college, I think it was very similar just starting as a freshman. He’s been great, he was poised all week … He got comfortable and got better as the game went and it was pretty unbelievable.”

DIVISION TITLES ON THE LINE

The Eagles already clinched a playoff berth but still can’t secure the NFC East until next week when they face the Dallas Cowboys (10-3). The Vikings are in position to clinch the NFC North with a victory Saturday over the Indianapolis Colts. The Kansas City Chiefs can also clinch the AFC West with a win over the Houston Texans or a loss by the Los Angeles Chargers.

NFL SATURDAY PREVIEW

The NFL has three games on Saturday, starting with the Colts (4-8-1) visiting the Vikings. The Cleveland Browns (5-8) host the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (9-4) in the second game. Tyler Huntley is expected to start at quarterback for the Ravens after leaving the last game in concussion protocol. Baltimore won’t have starting QB Lamar Jackson for the second straight game because of a knee injury.

The night game features the Miami Dolphins (8-5) facing the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills (10-3). The Dolphins have lost two in a row and QB Tua Tagovailoa has struggled in both games, diminishing his bid for NFL Most Valuable Player.

The Dolphins are preparing for cold and snow in Buffalo where the Bills have a true home-field advantage late in the season. The Bills are 10-1, including the playoffs, in home games played on Nov. 29 or later since 2020.

Miami players, including coach Mike McDaniel, spent the week wearing T-shirts that read: “I wish it were colder.”

“That was not intended to be anything but something that is just kind of a mentality for the team,” McDaniel said.

I’ve only spent one year on a cold-weather team in terms of coaching for one, which was Cleveland. Every other team, I’ve kind of been a warm-weather coach. In all of those circumstances, you inevitably have to play cold games. Philosophically, I think it’s important to acknowledge before the day of the game what it is. But at the same time, it’s a football game where the elements are the same for both people. I think that’s a way of emphasizing something but not obsessing about something, was my objective.

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