What we learned when the 49ers beat the leaders is our eighth win in a row

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers extended their hot streak Saturday on a day when unbearably cold weather was the story around most of the rest of the NFL.

Quarterback Brock Purdy continued his steady play with two touchdown passes to knock out George Kittle in the 49ers’ 37-20 win over the Washington Chiefs at Levi’s Stadium.

Ray-Ray McCloud got the scoring that started in the first quarter with an explosive 71-yard touchdown run. It was his only carry of the game and he had no receptions on a single goal.

The 49ers (11-4) claimed their eighth straight win—and their third straight with Purdy on start. They remain third in the NFC standings winning behind the Minnesota Vikings (12-3), who won 27-24 from the New York Giants earlier in the day.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ Week 16 win:

Bossa strengthens the case of DPOY

Defensive end Nick Bosa was one of six 49ers selected to this week’s NFC Pro Bowl team, and the follow-up: NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

Bosa continued his stellar season with two sacks on Saturday, and raised his NFL season-leading season today to 17.5 for the season. He had 15.5 sacks last season.

Bosa tied him with Fred Dean (1983) for the second most touchdown in a season in franchise history. Aldon Smith recorded 19.5 sacks in 2012 to tie the record at 49.

Bosa also thwarted a two-point conversion attempt with Carson Wentz sacked in the fourth quarter. However, this play is not officially considered a sack in the stat sheet.

The 49ers have two games left in the regular season so Bossa can challenge Smith’s record.

Bosa’s second sack of the day led to the points directly, stripping Washington quarterback Taylor Heineke on a blindside tackle. Jordan Willis recovered the fumble at the 12-yard line.

Kicker Robbie Gould took advantage of one of his three field goals in the fourth quarter.

Purdy throws deep bunts to score

There is no doubt that Purdy knows where to go with the ball and how to get it out quickly and accurately.

The only concern keeping Purdy available until the final overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft was his arm strength, but on Saturday he showed he had plenty of arm to make the throws required of NFL quarterbacks.

Purdy finished way with 15 completions on two attempts for 234 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception thrown.

Washington wanted to get rid of San Francisco’s running game and limit their ability to convert short passes into big plays, leaving the 49ers to make big plays on the field, and Purdy had the captains push a ball deep perfectly for Kettle. It gave the 49ers a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter.

Purdy took a pistol shot. He looked to the left, then straightened up and entered a deep throw in the middle. Kettle beat covering safety Darrick Forrest to catch the pass as he crossed the goal line for a 34-yard score.

Purdy and Kittle connected for another touchdown on the 49ers next drive. This time, he had a completely different look.

Kittle took a short pass from Purdy, who rolled left on an error. Kittle picked up the pass at the 27, caught a block from Jauan Jennings, then worked his way across the field and into the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown.

Kittle surpassed his previous career high with six touchdowns, which he set last season.

The leaders go after Lenoir

There are few areas in the 49ers defense that have allowed the opposition any hope of offense, and the captains went after the most unproven player in the unit on Saturday.

Cornerback Deauseore Lenoir made his 10th consecutive start since Emmanuel Mosley suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 5 at Carolina.

The 49ers got in deep on Sunday when Carvarius Ward was knocked out of the game in the third quarter. Rookie Sam Womack replaced him at cornerback, and the leaders immediately went after him on a 51-yard pass to Terry McLaurin.

Washington quarterback Taylor targeted Henk Lenoir on the first series of the game with a deep throw to rookie receiver Jahan Dotson. Lenoir swept the play, and Dotson dropped what could have resulted in a 79-yard touchdown pass.

Lenoir later gave up an 11-yard pass to Dotson on 3rd-and-9. Dotson hit him for 44 yards on a play that was nullified by tying penalties.

Related: Where the 49ers stand in the NFC playoff race after beating the Leaders

The Chiefs tied the score late in the second quarter when Dotson got a free run along the back line of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown run. Lenoir had shallow territory on this side of the play, while Pro Bowl safety Talanoa Hufanga appeared to be the last person in coverage.

The 49ers’ defense was stellar for most of Saturday’s games. Teams will continue to look for ways to move the ball against the 49ers, and going after Lenoir could be the path postseason opponents try to take.

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