Brock Purdy, comebacks give 49ers better shot vs. Chiefs

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers have found themselves trailing in the second half of both their games this postseason, causing mid-game panic among the fan base. Those holes — including a 17-point deficit last week against Detroit — just might be the key to a better outcome in the Super Bowl than the last time they faced the Chiefs on the game’s biggest stage.

It may seem paradoxical, but there’s a reason the 49ers might feel emboldened.

Flash back to Super Bowl LIV in Miami, in February 2020. The 49ers led the Kansas City Chiefs 20-10 and intercepted the ball early in the fourth quarter. Just when the game looked to be under control, it all went wrong: Over their last four possessions, the 49ers punted twice, gave up the ball on downs and threw an interception.

After the 49ers took that 10-point lead, Jimmy Garoppolo completed 2 of his last 10 passes for 28 yards with an interception. That includes the infamous overthrow of Emmanuel Sanders, a potential 51-yard touchdown that would have retaken the lead in the game’s final two minutes.

But there’s a big difference between the 2019 49ers and the 2023 49ers, one that makes coach Kyle Shanahan better equipped to have success this time around. Garoppolo was mostly efficient but robotic. Brock Purdy is more efficient than Garoppolo and creative enough to color outside the margins with success.

Shanahan has placed the game in Purdy’s hands in a way he never did with Garoppolo; given the second-half deficits this time around, the shift in philosophy was mandatory.

But there’s more to it than that: Shanahan can be more aggressive with Purdy. Rather than call plays with the aim of disguising his quarterback’s deficiencies, as he did with Garoppolo, Shanahan can attack using Purdy’s strengths and with the knowledge that his quarterback can make something out of nothing if a play breaks down.

Kansas City head coach Andy Reid has enjoyed the same kind of security with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who led the Chiefs to three touchdowns in Super Bowl LIV when the 49ers went inert with Garoppolo.

In the playoff games against Minnesota and Green Bay after the 2019 season, the 49ers established the run and turned Garoppolo into a handoff machine. They ran 47 times for 186 yards against the Vikings, winning 27-10. They ran it 42 times for 285 yards against the Packers, winning 37-20.

In the second halves of those games combined, Garoppolo was 8 of 10 for 55 yards, with no touchdowns, no interceptions and zero risk. In the second halves of this year’s playoff games, Purdy is 26 of 39 for 301 yards and a touchdown when it mattered most.

The line of demarcation was clear in the 2019 postseason. Just before halftime of the Minnesota game, Garoppolo threw an interception from the 49ers’ 19-yard line directly to linebacker Eric Kendricks. The Vikings only got a field goal out of the gift, but Shanahan had seen enough. He pulled the plug on Garoppolo.

In the next game and a half, with a sledgehammer running game, Shanahan called 66 rushing plays and 14 passes.

The 49ers have become a quarterback-driven team with Purdy in a way they never were with Garoppolo. In the never-ending quest among some segments of conventional and social media to discredit Purdy, the fact that the 49ers haven’t needed him to play from behind since taking over at quarterback was seen as a question mark.

It isn’t any longer.

“Brock showed everyone who he is and he’s the reason we have an opportunity to win this ring,” linebacker Fred Warner said.

Jimmy Garoppolo (10) makes his way off the field as the confetti falls after the 49ers lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs. Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

When I asked Shanahan on Monday if there was an advantage to having two gut-check games in this year’s playoffs, as opposed to 2019 when they ran the ball 89 times and threw 27 passes, he responded in the affirmative without ever mentioning his quarterback.

“When you go through stuff like this it hardens you through any situation,” Shanahan said. “You want to be able to go through tons of games and win any way possible.”

Tight end George Kittle, whose zeal for blocking is well documented, thoroughly enjoyed pushing around the Vikings and Packers in the previous Super Bowl run, but he gave credence to the 49ers getting as much or more out of this year’s harrowing postseason.

“I thought our team in 2019 did a fantastic job handling those games,” Kittle said. “Teams come to the stadium and (we) kind of whup up on them. But when you have to come back and win two very gritty games … it kind of throws some gas on the fire for a sense of urgency.

“‘Hey guys, we were almost out of this two different times and we were a good enough team, good enough coaches to come back and get those wins, but let’s try not to do that again.’”

Or as former 49ers quarterback Steve Young put on his weekly radio show on KNBR: “For two weeks in a row, we’ve dodged a bullet, and I don’t think at Thanksgiving we thought we would be that kind of team, dodging bullets.”


Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Swift Telecast is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment