LANDOVER, MD— The 49ers beat the Washington Commanders 27-10 on the East Coast, but one moment clinched the win.
The 49ers held a 10-point advantage early in the fourth quarter, but Commanders quarterback Sam Howell guided a 10-play, 74-yard drive into their territory. Before Charvarius Ward leaped in front of Terry McLaurin to record the Commanders' first turnover, the game seemed to be getting closer.
Howell was tackled by Nick Bosa and Javon Hargrave almost simultaneously as he threw the ball, which possibly altered its direction. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year recognized its impact instantly.
Bosa stated, “It was huge,” after the game. “So proud of him. This should have made him an All-Pro. Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilkes made an excellent pressure decision. Hargrave and I arrived.” With 23 pass breakups, Ward leads the league and promised to convert his big plays into interceptions. An undrafted free agent had a career-high five takeaways this season.
It feels good, you know, just to make a play for the team,” Ward said. “You understand? That was crucial to the game. Getting a turnover at that point would make it hard for them to defeat us. Indeed, it was a major momentum shift.”
Ward's interception energized the 49ers' offense, which went on a 10-play, 105-yard drive (10 penalty yards) completed by Brock Purdy's 17-yard touchdown throw to Brandon Aiyuk. The momentum shifted for George Kittle.
Kittle said "Wow" after the game. It's like a breath of fresh air before a wonderful drive. We played free football, which was great.” Two plays later, Ward's defensive back partner Deommodore Lenoir intercepted again, preventing a Commanders comeback.
“We've done that a lot this year,” Kittle added. To go back out there and have Mooney and Demo intercept, I love DB picks. Really cool. Demo gave me a ball. Demo, thank you for my first defensive ball.” Ward's effect goes beyond football. Christian McCaffrey, who shares a locker with the cornerback, appreciates their banter and enormous regard for his football ability.
He's the man," McCaffrey added. Charismatic and humorous, he always has something to say. He's humorous, although he may not realize it. Fun locker sharing with him. Sharing a locker with him gives me new music, which I appreciate. He's an All-Pro player and a beast. So I'm delighted he's my teammate.”