Only an NFL coach would focus on the few plays that did not go well in a 34-3 blowout against a playoff team. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was not pleased with his quarterback’s decision to throw across the field to start the game:
“Honestly one of, I can say this because he played his as...played well. That was like one of his worst decisions he’s made since he’s been here. It took me a while to get over it. I thanked him for the touchdown. But that was not a good decision.”
Shanahan’s facial expressions come off like a stern dad who gave his favorite son a pep talk:
It feels like beating a dead horse, but Purdy’s perceived, and on this throw it was, recklessness has taken the 49ers offense to a level that we haven’t seen. The offense had eight explosive plays against a Jaguars defense that had allowed the fewest explosive plays all season.
That pass went over George Kittle’s head and landed in Brandon Aiyuk’s lap. Kittle walked the media through the play, saying the first thing that came to his mind was. Brett Favre’s infamous interception as a Minnesota Viking in the playoffs:
“It’s one of the biggest no-no’s, except when it works. It’s funny too, cause Brandon’s running a corner, and I’m running a cross, and we’re running across the field, Brock’s nodding his head for us to go back. I was talking to Brock, and he said, ‘I was trying to sell it to the defense. I wanted you guys to keep running.’”
Kittle, laughing, said, “my bad Brock. Me and Brandon fell for it too. It went over my head. I was thinking, hopefully, there’s somebody else there that’s not a defensive player.”
Purdy using his mobility to buy time and create a play for his skill players to get open wasn’t an isolated incident. It’s something that he’s done on multiple occasions this season, oftentimes more than once in a game.
I asked Kittle how a scrambling quarterback helps the 49ers offense out. Here’s what he said:
“When you have a QB who can run a little bit, believes in his legs, and can outrun guys, it just allows plays to develop a little bit longer. Not everything has to be a 3-step, 5-step, 7-step drop throw when you can do a little bit extra.
It’s really hard to play defense and cover guys for five seconds. It really is. Especially if there’s not a lot of pressure and the quarterback is out to the side. That’s when you get illegal contact or pass interference. Or if you’re playing man coverage, it’s hard to guard guys that long.
It allows our skill guys to work a little bit longer and get open.”
Here is the list of quarterbacks in the NFL who came into Week 10 with a higher “big-time throw” percentage when they have 2.5 seconds or more to throw — presumably because they are scrambling in most instances — than Purdy: Tua Tagovailoa, Matthew Stafford, Jalen Hurts, Trevor Lawrence, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson.
That’s the list you want to be a part of. Furthermore, under the same timeframe, only Lamar, Joe Burrow, Kirk Cousins, and Geno Smith have a higher adjusted completion percentage than Purdy.
Brock understood that he got away with one. During his postgame media availability, he said, “the smart thing would have been to throw it away,” before saying, “I’m not particularly proud of that one. I’ve gotta be smart with the ball.”
We’re in ten weeks into the NFL season. This is who Purdy is. He’s a risk-taker. He’s going to take chances. You’re not going to see Brock throw across his body like that many more times, if ever, this season. But he’ll continue to give his wideouts a chance to make plays, and that’s why the 49ers will continue to score.