SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In a battle of NFL Most Valuable Player front-runners and conference leaders, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens left no doubt.

Jackson went 23-for-35 for 252 yards and two touchdowns and rushed seven times for 45 yards Monday night as the AFC-leading Ravens rolled the NFC-leading San Francisco 49ers, 33-19, at Levi’s Stadium.

With the blowout win, the Ravens can wrap up the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage with a home victory Sunday over the AFC East-leading Miami Dolphins. A sixth straight win would also give the Ravens the option of resting starters in their Week 18 finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they did four years ago.

As Jackson shined in prime time, likely establishing himself as the heavy favorite for MVP honors, the Ravens’ defense locked up a historically efficient 49ers offense and harassed quarterback Brock Purdy into mistake after mistake.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Purdy, who entered Christmas Day with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions, threw four picks and no touchdowns. He finished 18-for-32 for 255 yards. Running back Christian McCaffrey, who has also generated MVP buzz, rushed 14 times for 103 yards but was quiet in the second half.

Rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers led the Ravens with a career-high-tying nine catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Safety Kyle Hamilton, who left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury, had two interceptions.

The Ravens effectively put the game away in the third quarter with two touchdowns in 18 seconds. Both came with the help of short fields. Taking over in 49ers territory after an impressive punt return by Tylan Wallace, Jackson found wide receiver Nelson Agholor for a 6-yard touchdown in the front corner of the end zone.

On the 49ers’ next play, they gave it right back. Purdy, pressured by defensive lineman Travis Jones, threw his fourth interception after a check-down to McCaffrey ended in inside linebacker Patrick Queen’s hands, who returned it to the 9. Jackson found wide receiver Flowers wide open in the end zone for a score that gave the Ravens a 30-12 lead. Another field goal gave the Ravens a score on seven straight drives.

The first half was not a showcase for the NFL Most Valuable Player front-runners. Purdy ended the 49ers’ first possession with a red-zone interception. He ended their third drive with another pick, this one batted by cornerback Brandon Stephens into cornerback Marlon Humphrey’s waiting arms. And he ended their next drive, too, with another interception, the second of the night for safety Hamilton, who snared a pass deflected by Humphrey.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Jackson took time to heat up, too. The Ravens went three-and-out on their opening possession. On their next drive, Jackson was called for intentional grounding in the end zone after scrambling beyond the goal line and tripping over the stumbling referee as he tried to get rid of the ball. The safety gave the 49ers a 2-0 lead, which they extended to 5-0 five minutes later on a field goal.

The Ravens answered promptly, scoring the next 13 points. Two field goals by kicker Justin Tucker sandwiched a 1-yard score on fourth-and-goal from running back Gus Edwards. After San Francisco responded with a 9-yard touchdown run by McCaffrey on its next drive, Tucker gave the Ravens a 16-12 lead with a 28-yard field goal as time expired.

Read on for analysis from The Baltimore Banner sports staff.

The real MVP

Lamar Jackson embraces the chaos. He plays as if there is no pocket he can’t navigate, no throw he can’t make, no corner he can’t turn. It is not always pretty — especially if you’re an official in the end zone minding your own business until, wham, there he is, scrambling your way — but it is a style all his own. And there is great power in harnessing that ability for stages like Monday’s.

Ask the 49ers. They couldn’t stop it — or at least not long enough to give themselves a real chance in the second half. When Jackson had time to go through his progressions, he looked like the mature quarterback the Ravens have touted all season. When he didn’t have time, he turned nothing into something, and it was usually something good.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

It’s a rare ability, that improvisational instinct. Jackson, already touting one NFL Most Valuable Player award, has it. Brock Purdy on Monday night seemed to think he does, too. But his moments of chaos led mostly into moments of glory for a hard-hitting, hard-charging Ravens defense. Maybe, in a Super Bowl rematch, we’d get a fairer fight at QB. But not on Monday. Jackson knew his way out of trouble. Purdy only got the 49ers into more of it.

— Jonas Shaffer, Ravens reporter

Not all 11-3 teams are created equal

Both the 49ers and the Ravens came into this game with the same record, the same conference ranking. Yet Baltimore’s defense didn’t feel like it came in with the same amount of respect. The Ravens were not just Vegas’ underdog but the underdog in almost every expert’s pick. Monday’s game proved the defense right: These two teams are not created equal. Except … it was the Ravens who looked better.

After a messy start, the Ravens dominated in every aspect of the game. They only really struggled to slow down Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle, but no one can truly stop McCaffrey. It didn’t matter that both of those players accumulated more than 100 yards, and that’s truly a testament to what this team can be if it can overcome standout performances from multiple players on the other team. And just like last game, the Ravens’ success came from all over the field. The defense once again looked in contention for the title of league-best. Both running backs contributed on important downs. And eight players recorded catches, making it hard for the 49ers to figure out who to stop. Lamar Jackson loved that people doubted this team, and he certainly made all who doubted (me included) look quite silly.

— Giana Han, Ravens reporter

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Love it when a plan comes together

How much do you trust the Ravens to win a big game? By now, the answer should be “a lot.” Against arguably their toughest opponent yet in a game billed as the Regular Season Super Bowl, the Ravens’ game plan isolated key weaknesses and exposed them. Brock Purdy became the latest surging quarterback reduced to a turnover machine by the crafty Ravens defense. Lamar Jackson’s play-extending wizardry was too much for San Francisco’s defense to handle.

Reflecting on the playoff disappointments of past years, this team seems more prepared in big-time matchups based on what we’ve seen so far. They’ve decimated Detroit, Seattle, Jacksonville and now the 49ers. Mike Macdonald has shown the ability to construct a devastating scheme; Todd Monken has gotten more out of the passing game while preserving a prolific rushing attack. Assuming health (get well soon, Kyle Hamilton), the Ravens have a body of work that suggests they prepare as well as any team in the NFL — the one reassurance fans should want with the postseason ahead.

— Kyle Goon, columnist

The defense is just that good

Menacing physicality. Stars at every level. An up-and-coming coordinator with brilliant game plans. This is the best defense in the NFL, and it’s the best Baltimore has had in years.

The knee injury to safety Kyle Hamilton is, of course, something to monitor closely. But the Ravens have the pieces and the schemes to dominate opponents each week. On Monday night, they singlehandedly shifted the MVP odds by embarrassing Purdy on national television. Good offense tends to beat good defense in the playoffs, but if the AFC runs through Baltimore, it’s tough to imagine any opponent lighting up this unit in January. Getting through the final two weeks healthy is now the priority.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

— Paul Mancano, audience engagement editor

A statement game, with so much more to come

Well, here we are: Two weeks remain in the NFL’s regular season and the Baltimore Ravens appear to be the best team in football (though if Kyle Hamilton misses time …) A lot of things went wrong for the 49ers in a short spell on Monday night, sure, but the Ravens forced many of them. We knew coming in that Brock Purdy might not be able to lift his team the way elite QBs do, but few defenses have figured out a way to limit his droning, relentless efficiency. Mike Macdonald’s defense, though, made him look like a guy who would get picked last in the NFL draft. Which means Macdonald got the better of Kyle Shanahan in a coaching matchup and should get a plaque or something (OK, yeah, he’ll get a head coaching job after the season and that’s probably even better.)

There are potholes ahead, of course. The Ravens will need to get back home and prepare to play the Dolphins in a more meaningful game on a short week. Slowing Miami’s offense will be a different and perhaps more difficult challenge. Plus, Baltimore will now feel the full weight of expectations; there’s no underdog role to be played at this point. The Ravens are a great team, being led by a quarterback who is playing at an extremely high level. Injuries remain a concern, as they always are this time of year, but at this point there’s every reason to think the Ravens are fully capable of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy to end the season.

— Chris Korman, editor