SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Kyle Shanahan speaks clearest and most profoundly along with his play calls and sport plans. The 49ers’ offensive coronary heart, soul and conscience are all bared proper there, each weekend, by his headset and onto the sphere. There isn’t a hiding from that, and Shanahan doesn’t need to cover from that.
And what occurred within the 49ers’ playoff opener Saturday in opposition to a Seattle protection clearly geared to cease the run? Loads occurred. Every part necessary occurred if you wish to perceive what’s occurring with this group because it prices towards subsequent weekend’s divisional spherical and past.
Shanahan known as for rookie Brock Purdy to throw a move on the primary play (wild incompletion with a moist ball), the second play (19-yard completion) and the fourth play (incompletion), known as for Purdy to throw an extended lateral on the fifth play (7-yard acquire) and throw a move on the sixth play (incompletion) on the 49ers’ solution to a subject purpose for the primary factors of the sport. Then Shanahan stored calling move performs — 19 within the first half alone, in comparison with simply 9 runs.
It wasn’t dominant immediately, however the tone of this 41-23 wild-card-round victory at Levi’s Stadium was set. The proof was inescapable. That is the way in which for the 49ers proper now, on this postseason and possibly for lots longer than that. They’ll face both the Vikings (in the event that they win Sunday) or the winner of Monday night time’s Tampa Bay–Dallas sport (if the Vikings lose). And whoever it’s, the group that performs the 49ers will know they’ve obtained to determine methods to beat Brock Purdy.
It’s not that Shanahan will ever abandon the run, and actually, issues obtained balanced fairly shortly within the second half (the 49ers ended up with 33 runs and 30 passes). However now the 49ers can go to a full-tilt air assault in the event that they need to. And so they sort of need to.
In Purdy’s first playoff sport and simply his sixth NFL begin (and this grew to become the primary playoff victory for a rookie QB since Russell Wilson in 2012), Shanahan put the sport in his arms and was fairly completely happy to stick with that for an extended whereas. As a result of it was working, particularly in opposition to a Seahawks protection that was stacking the road of scrimmage.
“I believe they have been attempting to remove the run, however we got here out firing,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk mentioned. “And undoubtedly some meat left on the bone, however nonetheless simply explosive performs all day. I perceive what their plan is, we’ve obtained a rookie quarterback and we’ve obtained a heck of a run sport. I’m certain they’re attempting to make him throw the ball. I’m certain that’s everyone’s plan.
“However I believe he’s confirmed that’s high quality. We are able to make some massive performs within the move sport.”
The Purdy household 🙌 @brockpurdy13 pic.twitter.com/sjVGrVGG4p
— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2023
That is the way in which now for the 49ers as a result of Shanahan has a lot religion in Purdy, who missed a number of throws early (when it was raining calmly) however stored hitting performs all sport, together with seven move performs of longer than 15 yards. On the day, Purdy was 18-for-30 for 332 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 131.5 passer score; he additionally ran 4 instances for 16 yards and a TD.
“It will be straightforward for (Shanahan) to say, ‘All proper, let’s hold attempting to run the ball, let’s get 3 or 4 yards and simply handle this factor,’” Juszczyk mentioned. “I believe he has that confidence in Brock that he could make performs himself.”
After all, Shanahan famously let Jimmy Garoppolo throw it solely eight instances within the 49ers’ NFC Championship Recreation victory over the Packers in January 2020. Earlier than that, Garoppolo threw it simply 19 instances within the divisional-round victory over the Vikings.
This isn’t a knock on Garoppolo; the 49ers gained these video games, that’s what mattered. However the level is, this can be a entire new factor right here. Purdy has proved he can deal with extra accountability than Shanahan has trusted to any 49ers QB in six seasons, and it’s solely constructing.
“Felt that method from the start, as soon as he obtained into that sport versus Miami, once we didn’t have the posh to sit down there and fear about stuff the way in which the sport was going,” Shanahan mentioned. “We simply needed to name performs to attempt to win the sport, and he did such a hell of a job. And he’s performed it each time since. Obtained plenty of confidence in him and provides us increasingly confidence every week.”
And Purdy retains doing a little bit extra every week. He’s displayed spectacular elusiveness over the six video games he’s performed since coming in after Garoppolo’s damage in that Miami sport. However on Saturday, the efficiency expanded exponentially — Purdy zigged and zagged away from strain a handful of instances, main to large performs, a few TDs and, most significantly, zero horrible losses or turnovers.
“A few these touchdowns, I believe it’s one thing I’ve performed my entire life when it comes to discovering a method when it’s not there,” Purdy mentioned.
Purdy’s finest improvisation truly got here on an incompletion within the fourth quarter, when he ran nearly to the left sideline after which raced the complete width of the sphere, pump-faked a Seahawks defensive lineman after which threw a laser to Brandon Aiyuk ultimately zone. Aiyuk couldn’t corral the ball, however it was fairly the exclamation level.
Yeah, his teammates have observed.
“It’s nice to see the issues he does again there, his little slitheriness getting out of stuff,” extensive receiver Deebo Samuel mentioned. “It sort of makes us a little bit drained; we’ve gotta run round, too, attempt to get open. However it works.”
Final week, in a sport in opposition to the Cardinals, Shanahan watched Purdy run round and right into a 17-yard sack that took the 49ers out of subject purpose vary and mentioned he was yelling at him nearly instantly about it.
Kyle, you simply noticed it actually work on this sport, are Purdy’s prolonged scrambles OK now?
“No,” Shanahan mentioned with a deadpan shake of his head.
“He was nice on some,” Shanahan mentioned. “That final one was very shut, it was unbelievable the throw he made to BA within the nook. I do know he simply missed that. However he’s obtained a really feel for it. He undoubtedly makes me nervous on a few of it. However he did a hell of a job getting away. He is aware of his physique … tries to by no means surrender on a play. And he’s been very sensible with the ball thus far.”
It was all sufficient to be a magnet for a somewhat notable NFL fan.
PURDY GOT GAME!!!!!!!!!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 14, 2023
“LeBron mentioned that?” Purdy mentioned when he was instructed of the tweet, wanting genuinely thrilled. “Aw, that’s nice.”
Stated offensive deal with Trent Williams: “I like the truth that Brock is getting the eye he deserves. He is an efficient participant, man. And I believe anyone who watches soccer can see that. I’m not saying that he’s the subsequent Aaron Rodgers or Pat Mahomes, however he does every part that we’d like him to do and extra. I believe we are able to proceed to win with him, clearly.”
It didn’t all go completely. However the 49ers’ veterans favored every part they noticed from Purdy, when issues have been damp and barely disappointing at first after which once they scored 25 consecutive factors to start out the second half.
Usually, Purdy primarily blamed himself for the 49ers discovering themselves down 17-16 going into halftime regardless of outgaining the Seahawks 249-176 to that time. That occurred as a result of the 49ers needed to accept two brief subject objectives on drives into the crimson zone, and some defensive breakdowns abruptly gave Seattle plenty of life.
“Coming into halftime, Kyle was straight up, he was, ‘Hey man, the performs are there, the alternatives are there; we’ve simply gotta hold it easy and get it to the fellows,’” Purdy mentioned.
The response: The 49ers went on 13-play TD drive instantly after getting the second-half kickoff, concluded by Purdy himself on a 1-yard sneak. Then Charles Omenihu stripped the ball from Seattle QB Geno Smith on the subsequent possession and Nick Bosa recovered. And the rout was abruptly on.
In center of that spree, Purdy maneuvered round and located Elijah Mitchell wide-open in the suitable flat for a 7-yard landing. Purdy’s first learn was Aiyuk on his left, however Aiyuk was lined. Then Purdy obtained some strain, rolled to his left, felt extra strain, so he stepped again to the center and flipped it to Mitchell in the suitable flat. Simple TD.
Then got here this:
341 whole yards. 4 whole TDs.
Playoff Purdy in full impact.#SuperWildCard #NFLPlayoffspic.twitter.com/IQVcd9TAJS
— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2023
On the time, it nearly regarded like Purdy began throwing it to Mitchell earlier than he even turned all the way in which towards him. Which Purdy mainly confirmed. Intuition, each methods. Which is why he mentioned he was celebrating so uproariously.
“Only a damaged play,” Purdy mentioned. “I used to be attempting to go left to BA and undergo my progressions from there. It simply broke down. Elijah did his job when it comes to staying in safety, and if he had time he might get out. He was my final learn. Entrance facet simply broke down. Once I scrambled, Elijah was the place he wanted to be.
“And that’s why I used to be excited. I had that belief in him to be right here, and similar for him in myself. Simply an enormous a part of the sport, to create momentum, only a massive play for everybody and an enormous second for everybody.”
The moments are getting greater for the 49ers. Their rookie QB certain isn’t shrinking. If something, he’s getting higher. It’s proper there on the sphere. It’s taking place.
Thompson: The Seahawks struck first, however Deebo Samuel struck the loudest
(Photograph: Ezra Shaw / Getty Photos)