The squad-winning Kyle Shanahan and Brooke Purdy synced up
SEATTLE — Long, long, long after the end of this game and all the wild NFC West Championship celebrations, a few players lingered in the 49ers locker room, all moving in terribly slow motion after expending every ounce of energy on the field and then a million ounces more during the general jubilation.
However, Brock Purdy was still around after sticking around for the Amazon Prime game post-game set to debating the 49ers’ 21-13 victory over the Seahawks on Thursday at Lumen Field and then some recalibration for his bruised body. And when word got out to reporters that Purdy was headed to the podium for his press conference, every remaining player got up.
“You are better Go talk to Brooke Purdy! Trent Williams exclaimed into his locker, grinning. It was an order. It was an inevitability. It was the truth.
This suddenly became a very special time for this team, and Purdy, a seventh-inning rookie who was thrown in the middle of this only because Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were injured earlier in the season, was the symbol of that. Because Purdy, who was nursing a deflected wound, almost didn’t play on Thursday. At best, said Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were just hoping Purdy would play as long as he could take it, and then the 49ers would bring in a recently signed backup of Josh Johnson.
It was so fast, Shanahan said, that Purdy reduced his warmup throws before the game to save it all for the Seahawks.
“Kyle said something to me before the game just to keep the guys ready, keep them ready,” said defenseman Kyle Joszyk. “If Brock wasn’t ready to go, we might have to run that ball 60 times today.” “
But Purdy not only made it through the game, but had another stellar performance, including completing his first 11 pass attempts–on his first NFL road start, at this famously hostile stadium, in a short week, without hitting Debo Samuel. And with him, the injury was limited to a few throws all week. When it was over, the 49ers won their seventh straight game to go 10-4, and converted 3-4 from an opening fumble to clinch the NFC West title with three games left to play.
“It’s another level for me to just watch somebody do that,” Shanahan said of Purdy. “The injury he had last week, and for him to be ready to go today, you can still tell a number of things that were very difficult for him in the pre-match warm-up. Just to be able to play, let alone the way he played.”
This is a special time. Something is happening here. You can see it in the players’ eyes. You can see what they see. Of course, the 49ers defense played great again on Thursday. There were great offers from every position group.
However, the basis for this mutation, in essence, comes from three direct sources:
• The arrival of Christian McCaffrey in October as a constant threat and his reception has tangled defenses and linked him squarely to their winning streak.
George Kittle said, “When Christian McCaffrey touches the football, I think it’s going to be a touchdown.”
• Birdie’s poise and decision making loses the entire offense. Purdy has now led the 49ers to an 86-30 aggregate score over their opponents from the moment he docked with Garoppolo three games ago.
• Not coincidentally, with Purdy as QB, McCaffrey as the do-it-all weapon and everything else at his disposal, Shanahan is on the best roll call play of his time with the 49ers and perhaps the most important track of his coaching career.
“Sure, we’re in a groove,” said Kittle, who caught two touchdown passes wide of 28 yards and 54 yards from Purdy.
From the moment Purdy took over, Shanahan was on fire, calling beautiful plays, protecting the rookie when necessary, making sure the defense wasn’t put in a bad position and setting up the opposition perfectly for Purdy and the other offensive stars. He simply calls the plays in a way he didn’t with Lance and Garoppolo. And almost all of them work.
“There are times when you get in, just like in that game,” Shanahan said of the playing and calling rhythm. “And there are times you get out of it. The coach is in tune with his players. … As a play-by-play caller, (when) the players are in tune, it gives you a chance to get in rhythm. Sometimes you can help out and get lucky.”
“But our guys were playing really well, and when that’s the case, especially the way Brock was playing, it’s really fun to call the plays for them.”
Let’s take a look at three great plays in Thursday’s win. Three very different plays, all involving Birdie’s decisions, Shanahan’s feel and playbook and the diverse talents on this offense. Three plays makeover. Three plays to clinch a playoff berth.
One was Shanahan’s perfect call. Someone was reading Purdy the whole field and making the perfect decision. One was just instinct.
That’s what Kittle always thinks of when that play comes up: “Touchdown, every time,” Kittle said. “This is your thought process. When Kyle is asking for something when you get the ball, try speaking it into existence. So you have to say the touchdown, just imagine it.”
Here’s the play, in which Purdy faked a flat left to Ray-Ray McCloud and then quickly faked a flat right to McCaffrey and then squared up to launch Kittle and broke perfectly open down the middle and through the Seahawks defense to give the 49ers a 7-0 lead on their second drive.
The fake double from Purdy! Kittle is in for TD verses Hahahahaha#SFvsSEA On Prime Video
Also available on NFL+ https://t.co/gyMqx7NKs2 pic.twitter.com/D4TA8mIiq2
– NFL December 16, 2022
The goal is to get the defense to race to the sidelines to defend swing passes and Kittle’s role is to pretend to block it, get lost in the mix, and then come out when the coast is clear.
“The play is called Hollywood, because Keitel is supposed to do a good acting job,” said Shanahan. “We’ve done it in the past where he fell, so they really forgot about him. … We did a good job of acting without him falling on the floor and getting the look right.”
For me, the most amazing part is that this rookie QB calmly executes both fake pumps – watching him straight from the press box, I was sure Purdy was throwing it to McCaffrey – confident that his offensive line would hold up with his back rush pass (I did) and put it in calmly Perfectly for Kettle.
“You never expect someone to open up,” Shanahan said. “We were hoping to get a call against (defense) quarters so we could pump twice, have them chase our pump to the left and have them chase our pump to the right, and when that happens there’s no one left for Kettle down the middle. … It worked perfectly. face, and Kittle’s had the power to score.”
No, the 49ers really didn’t know Purdy could do all this, at least not this soon. A few officials were walking around almost dazed after that, shaking their heads and smiling at reporters. Did they find Shanahan’s perfect QB almost by accident?
“Great stage design and appeal by Kyle, man,” Purdy said. “That was huge. Just to get the ball to George and then have him take the yardage after the catch, that’s what he does best.”
Shanahan loved the play so much that he even started joking about Birdie’s role in the play with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Mayuko: “All he has to do is pump twice and throw it to the middle. That’s just playing catch.” You are You should be able to do that.”
This, people, is a coach who feels the atmosphere of a properly built team. All Shanahan has to do is call him.
“He always says he feels the energy from us,” said Juszczyk.
“(Shanahan) said in the first half, ‘Well, the ball is either going to (Brandon) Ayuk in the ramp or it’s going to Christian, he’s going to have a blocker on Juice (Juszczyk),'” Keitel said. “It felt like it was covering a man, but they had a cover back ‘behind. He kind of hit me, got out slowly, but got picked up by someone else. There’s no such thing as being wide open in football,’ because it doesn’t happen often.”
This, a third-quarter TD by Kittle that put the 49ers ahead 21-3 going into the third quarter, didn’t go to plan. It was about the QB feeling the play was evolving and hitting his moment.
“We didn’t expect it at all,” Shanahan said of Kettle’s opening late in the play. “It was a thorough read and Brock did a great job as he got to the left, he was going to the left and a number of people jumped Christian and left Kettle on his own. I think it was a three-man rush – and our protection allowed Brock to hit all the fields and do a big job.”
Was Kettle the third choice, Kyle? “Fourth,” Shanahan said.
George. Kettle. Second TD of the night!#SFvsSEA On Prime Video
Also available on NFL+ https://t.co/gyMqx7NKs2 pic.twitter.com/yD00n8dfSX
– NFL December 16, 2022
“Credit to Christian, he was swinging left and defense, right after the first half, maybe they were planning to stop Christian because I kept hitting him out of the field. So really, Christian got all the attention and George backed off. I just made sure he got the ball and he did the rest after that” .
But Birdie’s teammates noticed that the QB pulled Keitel off the defense.
“Brock’s second touchdown throw was amazing,” said Juszczyk. “He does a good job of manipulating defenders with his eyes. And he did it perfectly. I looked all the way to the sideline at Christian and he pulled that corner up and opened that corner way for George for a touchdown.”
Purdy calls his own number to close the game
Late in the game, the Seahawks shut out by one score. The 49ers got the ball back with 3:35 left in the fourth quarter needing a one down to drain the clock. They made it to third-and-one at their own 34-yard line with 2:42 remaining.
What happened: Purdy faked a handoff to McCaffrey, who then darted into the right flat. But the defensive back stayed with McCaffrey, opening up running space for the QB.
Was this called a QB run, Kyle?
“No, it was a pass to Christian in the apartment,” Shanahan said. “But they took him and then (Purdy) kept going.”
Brooke Purdy. The first monster truck. verses#SFvsSEA On Prime Video
Also available on NFL+ https://t.co/gyMqx7NKs2 pic.twitter.com/0mertNOffk
– NFL December 16, 2022
Purdy was reckless enough to slide to make sure he didn’t go out of bounds and stop the clock, and it also kept him off the first down. But it was in front of Shanahan who said he knew Purdy had pulled it off. It’s basically game over.
“I know he struggled to move a little bit at times (because of the injury), but there’s finally, that third-and-one, to be able to move the chains the way he did,” Shanahan said. “He had a lot of respect for him before the game, but a lot more now.”
There is something going on here. There’s a mixture of skill, wit, schemes, and pure chance, from Purdy to Shanahan to McCaffrey to Kittle all down the line. They all play off each other, they’re all better because of each other, and I think they’re just getting started.
(Photo by Brooke Purdy: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
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