The San Francisco 49ers have been somewhat more receptive to playing their younger guys of late, and that means defensive lineman Mike Purcell. An undrafted free agent in 2013, Purcell spent time on the practice squad and eventually made the 53-man roster when Ray McDonald was released.
He hasn't had much playing time this season, but against the Chicago Bears, Purcell received the third-most playing time among defensive linemen. Quinton Dial played 74 percent of snaps, Ian Williams played 55 percent of snaps, and Purcell came in at an even 50 percent of the defensive snaps.
Purcell was in on 39 plays but his impact on the game was, sadly, minimal. I like a lot of what I've seen from Purcell in the past, but he didn't have a great game against the Bears' offensive front. He was credited with just one tackle, though a second one was wiped out by a Chicago holding penalty.
In the past, I've observed Purcell using his exceptional strength and good leverage to control linemen and create penetration, which is a definite asset for someone his size. But against the Bears, Purcell looked sluggish and he was easily controlled by offensive linemen.
He was able to get penetration here and there, but when the Bears wanted to get a run around him or Cutler out of the pocket, Purcell had little chance to make a move and redirect the play.
You can see Purcell easily handled in this play, and I'm only going to use this one to illustrate my point because honestly, he had very little impact on the field on Sunday. He really poorly used the leverage that I thought he was so good at using, and was often stood up straight by offensive linemen. That happens in the play above, and it happened a lot more as well.
Purcell was pretty consistently redirected, but to be fair to him, his time on the field was inconsistent and I'd like to see him get even more playing time to see if this is a recurring trend, or if we'll see more of the penetrating lineman that I feel like he could be.
Above is an example of a great play from Purcell. He's the one making the tackle, and he actually cuts in front of NaVorro Bowman to get the run stop. That was Purcell's only credited tackle, for no gain, but it's something I saw him do a lot in preseason and on film and I'm happy it appeared on Sunday's game, even if he wasn't exactly consistent with it.
Purcell is young and inexperienced. He'll get a lot more time to show the 49ers he has what it takes, I just hope they give him more consistent playing time as the season nears its end.