Those outside the 49er world seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting on Brock Purdy to look like a 7th round pick. There have been examples of Purdy’s limited arm strength or a decision that reminds you why he’s a rookie.
BIGGEST VULNERABILITY: Film.
Kyle Shanahan has been calling plays brilliantly for rookie QB Brock Purdy, but as defenses see more of the seventh-round pick, they will be able to create better plans to exploit his weaknesses. From Week 14 through Super Wild Card Weekend, Purdy has posted sparkling numbers, tallying the most wins (six) in the NFL in that span, with the highest passing yards per attempt (9.3) and passer rating (121.4), while tying for the most passing TDs (14). He also has an 86.9 passer rating under pressure, ranking sixth best (including playoffs). He’s working with the best skill-player teammates and the best left tackle, according to win share, in the game, and he’s operating in a scheme that allows for 3.3 yards of target separation on downfield pass attempts, which is by far the most in the NFL (the next closest is 3.0). I am by no means suggesting Purdy is a liability, or attempting to downplay the epic unfolding of a potential star, but even the Patrick Mahomeses, Josh Allens, and Joe Burrows of the world face an adjustment period once defenses learn their capabilities.
In this Sunday’s faceoff with Dallas, I’m watching how Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn looks to stop the 49ers’ pass-catchers (mostly tight end George Kittle). We’ve seen Quinn employ smart strategies with his defensive backs to make up for injuries, and we’ve seen Shanahan dial up pre-snap motions and shifts (from Week 14 through last week, Purdy has the most TDs using motions and shifts in the NFL) to help his offense be simple but appear complex. Will Purdy be able to see this all well enough to keep the pass game strong?
Not unlike Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy will never get the recognition he deserves because he has Kyle Shanahan as his play-caller and an embarrassment of riches surrounding him. The yards of target separation is a difficult stat to ignore, but failing to cite Purdy making and extending the play with his legs is negligent.
Both touchdowns last week were a direct result of Purdy’s mobility. On the stat sheet, both running backs were wide open. But that doesn’t happen without Sandlot Purdy.
We’re always looking to compare players. But when you put Brock’s numbers next to other top-flight quarterbacks, there isn’t much of a difference. And while we know he’s not on the Allen or Mahomes level, we haven’t seen the Niners look this potent once under Shanahan.
You can make the argument that the more Purdy plays, the more teams will have film on him, thus, being able to configure a game plan to stop him.
There’s always the other side of the coin. More reps for Purdy means he figures out what he is and isn’t able to get away with why building more chemistry with his wide receivers. On the other hand, if Purdy shows he’s vulnerable, it won’t be due to playing more.