How Brock Purdy can make history against Philadelphia

It’s not typical for quarterbacks to play well in their first trip to the playoffs, let alone a rookie quarterback.

Purdy is a part of a small group, becoming just the fifth rookie quarterback to reach the conference championship game. On Sunday in Philadelphia, he will have the opportunity to be the first to reach the Super Bowl.

John Lynch knows all about playing a rookie quarterback with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The current 49ers general manager was a starting safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1999 when Shaun King stepped into the lineup when Trent Dilfer went down with an injury.

King won four of his five regular season starts. In the NFC Divisonal round he sent Tampa Bay to the championship game with a late touchdown throw.

Facing the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams, King completed just 13 of 29 passes. Holding a slim 6-5 lead in the fourth quarter, King threw his second interception of the game. Taking over in Tampa territory, Kurt Warner hit Ricky Proehl from 30 yards out for the game winning score.

The other three rookies to lead their team to the conference championship were Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez.

Ben Roethlisberger went 13-0 in the regular season before throwing three interceptions in a 24-14 loss to New England in the 2005 AFC Championship game.

Joe Flacco threw three interceptions and completed only 13 of 30 pass attempts in a 23-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2009 AFC Championship game.

Mark Sanchez had the best performance of the three, throwing only one interception and completing 17 or 30 passes for 257 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns in a 30-17 loss to Indianapolis in the AFC Championship game the following year.

All four rookies had terrific defenses behind them. Pittsburgh and New York had allowed the fewest points in the league while Tampa Bay and Baltimore finished with the third fewest.

Just like the rookies before him, Brock Purdy has a terrific defense on his side. San Francisco has allowed the fewest points in the league this year.

One thing Purdy does have which the other four did not is an offensive minded head coach.

With Kyle Shanahan calling the shots and a bevy of playmakers to work with, Purdy is the only rookie since at least 1970 to throw for at least 200 yards in back to back playoff games.

Purdy has found himself is tight games. He trailed Seattle at halftime in the Wild Card round. Against Dallas the game was tied when he stepped onto the field for the 49ers first possession of the second half.

With the games tight in the second half Purdy hasn’t faltered, completing 16 of 21 pass attempts for 270 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie also has not turned the ball over.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Purdy’s 59 passing attempts without an interception is by far the most of any rookie in history. The next fewest belongs to Norm Van Brocklin who in 1949 threw 14 passes before being picked off.

Purdy’s ability to protect the ball is extremely valuable for a San Francisco team which thrives when not turning the ball over. Since the start of last season the 49ers are 24-3 when they don’t turn the ball over more than their opponents. They are just 1-9 when they have more turnovers.

If Purdy can continue to play at the same level on Sunday, the 49ers will defeat the Eagles to make history by advancing to the Super Bowl with a rookie quarterback.

Niners Nuggets:

Jimmy Garoppolo, Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell and Trent Williams did not practice on Wednesday. McCaffrey and Mitchell showed up on the injury report following the game against Dallas on Sunday and are expected to play Sunday. Williams was on a vet day, something he has done since the start of the regular season.

Ambry Thomas returned to practice in limited fashion as did Charles Omenihu.

Omenihu suffered an oblique injury against Dallas, then was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence earlier this week. According to Kyle Shanahan the 49ers will let the legal process work its course and Omenihu will play on Sunday if healthy.

This article has 36 Comments

  1. If Purdy is forced to throw the ball 20 or more times I believe he will end up performing like Flacco, King or Ben R. If the 9ers limit his throwing to 15-19 I think he can win.

    1. OC
      I disagree OC, Purdy has proven he can play with the big boys! If nothing else, his performance against the
      Cowgirls proved he could handle the D pressure.

      * The Eagles D has given up 20,5 points per game! The 9ers will need to score 24 or more points to win, KS calling a conservative game will only lead to a defeat.
      * IMO, the 9ers will still need to run the ball 30+ times to wear down the Eagles defense in the 4th Qtr, but KS will need to open up the offense and let Purdy play to win. That means throwing the ball if the Eagles stack the LOS.

      1. Geep,
        My post was more a comment on the 9ers O line and the Eagles pass rush then a criticism of Purdy. You and I are not that far off on our game plans you say they should run the ball 30+ times I say 40+ times. If they can run the ball 40+ then the play action passes should be wide open and Purdy could make a # of big (scoring?) plays. I strongly believe that if they can’t run the ball well early in the game or KS starts the game off by primarily throwing the ball they will be setting Purdy up for failure and possibly injury. This Eagle pass rush is arguably the best pass rush in the history of the game. This 9er O line is not a great pass protecting O line. imho

        1. OC
          I don’t disagree with the 9ers running the ball 40+ times. The problem, IMO, is I believe the Eagles will stack the box, keep the 9ers from getting first downs and dominate the time of possession!
          If the Eagles stack the box, KS’s game plan will need to open the offensive and give Purdy a chance to
          score and stay in the game. The 9ers offense can’t score riding the pine!

      2. What we haven’t seen from Purdy yet is a high volume passing game. One where for much of the game the offense will have to go through Purdy’s arm. We saw a glimpse of it in the Raiders game. But even then the 49ers mostly stuck with their standard offense.

        So yeah, you’re right that the 49ers will have to open up the offense (lead with the pass) if the Eagles shutdown the run game (and the play action pass). That’s another problem with playing an aggressive penetrating pass rush team. The tricks you use with play action can be problematic because it takes a second or so of time to fake the handoff which gives more time for the Eagle’s pass rush to get to the “mesh point” (the handoff/fake handoff) and disrupt the play. I wonder if the 49ers will have to go with a run game plan like they did in the 2nd half of the Cowboys game. Quicker hitting up the middle/off tackle runs; instead of extensive window dressing and misdirection.

        1. All4fun
          “Quicker hitting up the middle/off tackle runs; instead of extensive window dressing and misdirection.”
          * The Eagles have struggled to stop runs up the middle. The Eagles ranked 23rd in the league in preventing runs of 10 or more yards.

  2. Good write-up, Hammer.
    According to conventional wisdom, Eagles have the better QB, the better offensive and defensive lines, better cornerbacks and the better game day coach. They also have home field advantage and an extra week of rest. With regard to the game, as Kittle put it: “It’ll be cold, it’ll be violent, and it’ll be a blast”. Eagles should win — but will they?

    1. Ill put my money on Kyle Shanahan, everything else seems pretty even except home field advantage and a few extra days. Line is -2 1/2 for the home team.

  3. For Brock to win, #69 needs to stay upright the whole game. Come on McGlinchey! Please do it for two more games.

    1. True but the matchup that truly scares me is Cox & Hargrave against Banks, Brendel, and Burford.

      1. Let’s just say it this way…the four guys that line up with Trent Williams have got to play the best games of their lives on Sunday

      2. 1.6 Patriot
        You might want to add Reddick and his 16 sacks to your list?
        * Reddick = 16 sacks. Graham, Hargrave and Sweat = 11 sacks each. Cox = 7 sacks.
        * The Eagles D will expose how good Banks, Brendel and Burford are. I’d also add McGlinchey to the list.
        * The Eagles have struggled to stop runs up the middle. They acquired Suh and Linval Joseph, but those additions and the return of rookie Jordan Davis, the Eagles ranked still 23rd in the league in preventing runs of 10 or more yards.
        * TO WIN, the 9ers need be successful running the ball (30+ times) and throw when the Eagles stack the LOS!

        1. How are the Eagle’s linebackers at fast flow? Generally an aggressive pass rush can be negated with screen passes. But everyone throws screen passes on every other play in the NFL these days. So decent fast flow linebackers can sniff them out. The Eagles run a lot of Cover 4 (likely #2 read stuff). So generally a Scissors concept works against Cover 4. But I think it would take too long to develop against the Eagles pass rush. I’m thinking of a shorter Pin Route Concept. It’s got a 10 yard in breaking route that gets open because the inside receiver runs a dig route that clears the backer coverage in the middle. You can run it deeper as a Mills route but I don’t recommend it against the Eagles pass rush.

          How have the defensive line faired when the pocket moves? Have the Eagles faced a mobile QB? Would rolling out of the pocket help? Against the 49ers that doesn’t usually help because of the speed of the 49er linebackers and the play of the DE to play containment (they tend to lose containment if they’re rushing a pocket passer that then scrambles but do a good job against designed roll outs).

          1. Allfor,
            “Have the Eagles faced a Mobile QB?”
            Jones twice
            Prescott once
            Fields once
            Lawrence once
            Murray once

            1. Presscott didn’t look that mobile to me against the 49ers. I mean I know he can move but he didn’t. Same for Lawrence and Jones…. relatively mobile but doesn’t really move all that much… least from little I’ve seen. I didn’t see their offenses moving the pocket much for them….of course I didn’t watch any of their games…just some highlights. It appears that Fields had 95 yards rushing and passed for 2 TDs. It’s not the rushing by Fields I’m looking at. It’s the mobility and movement from the pocket for the passing game. Like Fields, I don’t care about Kyler’s 55 yards rushing. But he did have 250 yards passing and a TD. Again, I’m curious how he got those passes….was it a designed moving pocket or did he just scramble and get schoolyard passes off?

              I reason I say all of this is because, I don’t imagine having Purdy run for 50+ yards on offense. I just would like to know if moving him around in the and out of the pocket would help negate the Eagles’ pass rush to a certain degree.

              1. If Purdy throws the ball 25 times I expect you will see about 3 or 4 roll outs to the right and the same to the left. Will it work? Hell if I know. Like I told Felix last week if I knew better than any NFL coach I wouldn’t be an Old H.S. Coach bloviating on a 49er web site.

              2. Here’s my not exactly insightful expertise. Like all plays that have some advantageous, roll outs have diminishing returns if used too frequently. The key is when and how they deploy the roll outs. In the old MIKE Shanahan offense the rollouts were tied with the wide zone run game so that the line movement and QB movement looked very similar run or pass. But Kyle doesn’t just run Wide Zone. In fact Wide Zone isn’t even featured in the offense anymore. At this point I think he picks whatever works, gap, traps, sweeps, inside zone, outside zone….etc… This goes against Alex Gibb’s philosophy of executing one play perfectly but multiplicity has it’s advantageous too. What I worry is that the 49ers don’t have the bulldozers on the inside of the line to sustain an inside power run game. Banks is a bulldozer but Brendel, Buford and Brunskill are not earth movers.

  4. Montana had plenty of games where he had to come from behind in the 4th Q. I don’t see Purdy getting rattled either. The Dallas D was fast and brutal, all he did was adjust and wait for an opportunity.
    The key is that his teammates trust him. Brock is like a Brick, solid and reliable.

    1. Dee,
      The biggest difference between Phil and Dall isn’t on the D side of the ball it is on the O side. I believe if the 9ers O plays like they did in the 1st half last week Phil’s O will put together the kind of lead that even Montana would have a hard time over coming.

      1. The Niners currently have the best offense not the Eagles. I don’t know who is going to get off to the best start but I believe at the end of the game, Niners will win because they are the better team.

        1. Felix,
          I wasn’t comparing the 9ers O to the Eagles O. I was comparing the Eagles to Cowboys. The Eagles O is far better than the Cowboys because Hurts is far better than Prescott. My point was if the 9ers O played like last Sun. I am afraid the Eagles would find a way to play much better than the Cowboys did.

        2. Felix
          “The Niners currently have the best offense not the Eagles.”
          As much as I wish you were right, you ARE NOT!
          * The Eagles have arguably the best offensive and defensive line in football. They are only the second team in the last 15 seasons with the No. 1 pass block and pass rush grade from PFF.
          * The top-15 PFF grade at position this season among 49ers and Eagles’ O-line/front-seven players:
          OT Trent Williams SF (1st)
          C Jason Kelce PHI (2nd)
          LB Fred Warner SF (2nd)
          EDGE Nick Bosa SF (3rd)
          LB T.J. Edwards PHI (4th)
          EDGE Brandon Graham PHI (5th)
          LB Dre Greenlaw SF (6th)
          OT Lane Johnson PHI (6th)
          OG Isaac Seumalo PHI (8th)
          EDGE Josh Sweat PHI (10th)
          EDGE Haason Reddick PHI (13th)
          DT Javon Hargrave PHI (13th)
          OT Jordan Mailata PHI (14th)
          Of the 19 NFC Pro Bowl selections at those positions this year, seven are on these two teams. And the offensive line might boast a couple Hall of Famers. Trent Williams, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson make up three of the five AP first-team All-Pro selections along the offensive line this season.
          * NOTE: Only TW for the 9ers makes the O-Line list.

      2. OC. Yes the O had a hard time with Dallas D. I don’t think they played bad, they were just stopped every time. CMC couldn’t penetrate since they focused on him. I think it wore them out though and that’s why the 2nd half Nines had more room. It’s 4Qtrs and adjustments can be made. I think Brock biggest asset is that he adjust well and is able to deviate from the ‘initial play’.
        There was a lot of talk of how Trey was so intelligent and how great that was. I’d rather see a QB with a feel for the game. Nobody talks about how intelligent Montana, Brady or Rodgers are.

      3. What do you think the problem was with the offense in the first half the Dallas game?

        To me it looked like their run game was sniffed out. Too much penetration to allow the slower developing misdirection plays to be executed. Also, Purdy seemed a little off. The 2nd half was just straight up running it down Dallas’ throats; inside zones and quick traps.

        Play action can be a boom or bust adventure against the Philadelphia D. As I said in an earlier post, the time it takes to fake a hand off gives the Philly pass rush more time to disrupt the play. On the other hand it can draw the Safeties in to protect the flat and support the run in the ally and leave the middle to deep part of the field exposed (Safeties will read the inside receivers and can be drawn in against the run and short route stems). You just got to avoid the pass rush.

        1. Allfor,
          I agree with you 100% as to the slow developing misdirection plays. I believe they need to run smash mouth inside zone run plays and outside zone runs looking for cut back lanes. Hat on a hat football. Using Juice on more plays.

          1. I would not run outsize zone against penetrating defensive linemen. Those penetrators blow up outside zone before it developers and takes away the cutback runs. Against penetrators you run trap plays. The counter technique for the D line is the “wrong arm technique” which is basically turning your outside shoulder in to the trap blocker and creating a bowling ball of a pile up at the point of attack to clog the hole. It takes a really good puller to stay low enough while on the move to get under a wrong arm defender, get under him and drive him out to keep from causing a pile up.

        2. All4fun
          “To me it looked like their run game was sniffed out. Too much penetration to allow the slower developing misdirection plays to be executed.”
          BINGO! I agree!
          * “Purdy seemed a little off.” Yep, after he was sacked, he was feeling the pressure and took him awhile to adjust (stop thinking about it) and let his instincts take over.
          * In the first qtr, I’d like to see KS ….1) use Mason to run it down the Eagles throats, inside zones and quick traps. 2) Use Mitchel to run some wide zone behind McGlinchey, Juice and Kittle. 3) Save CMC running for the 2nd half, after pounding the Eagles D In the first half. Use CMC in the passing game and keep him fresh for the second half.
          2nd half

          1. Geep,
            I want to see them run the ball with Juice in the game. Then, so Phil. doesn’t over load the box every time Juice is in the game I would like to see KS target Juice with 4-6 passes.

            1. OC
              ” I would like to see KS target Juice with 4-6 passes.”
              * I agree! One of the 9ers offensive strength is the “POSITION LESS PLAYER(s).”

    1. I claim no expertise. I’m just a blowhard on the internet….and I know next to nothing about basketball.

      If inside runs are featured, I wonder if we get more Mitchell (if his groin is okay) and Price-Davis?

  5. I was listening to KNBR a little while ago, they were interviewing Dick Vermiel. He had an interesting take on this weekends games, he said for the first time in his memory all four teams in the conference championship games are capable of winning the SB. This is the best lineup of teams he has ever seen. He said he didn’t want to over simplify but the two teams who move on will be the two teams who play errorless football. Simply put no turn overs and few to no penalties. I don’t want to jinx the 9ers but they have been great in the TO battle since Purdy came aboard (although he has had quite a few Ints dropped) now if they can limit the penalties Vermiel seems to think they will win. I think they will play heavy zone coverage on D, which will allow passes underneath but stop Phil from throwing over the top where Lenior seems to pick up his PI penalties and by playing C. Ward off the ball he shouldn’t get his usual illegal contact penalties. Now if only our O line can stay away from holding penalties. Go Niners

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