“That work started before the season began. It was clear in training camp that Aiyuk was poised for an even bigger season than the one he had in 2022, as he was often the most dominant player on the field in racking up 78 receptions for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns. But it’s a commitment to detail that has allowed Purdy and Aiyuk’s connection to grow in 2023.
Throughout camp, Purdy closely studied the intricacies of how Aiyuk moves, noting that he can cut and move without the choppy steps others might need to get out of a break. That, combined with Aiyuk’s quickness off the line, helped Purdy gather a better understanding of how fast Aiyuk can create separation and buoyed Purdy’s confidence in throwing to spots that he knows Aiyuk can reach before the defender.
Purdy also gained a better understanding of how Aiyuk’s 81-inch wingspan — just one inch shorter than that of Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, who was 5 inches taller — can allow him to take a few more chances because Aiyuk can get his hands on passes that other receivers can’t.”
“The 49ers have been flagged for 18 pass-related infractions, including pass interference, illegal contact, illegal use of the hands and holding. Their opponents have been flagged for 10 such calls. (I included penalties that were declined or offset.)
I also agree with your conclusion. Aside from Jauan Jennings, the 49ers don’t have any big-bodied receivers who post up and draw contact from defensive backs. Brandon Aiyuk, who has been Purdy’s favorite receiver, has only had six contested throws on his 65 targets this year, a very low number. That suggests he has good separation on the vast majority of his targets.
Another reason? The 49ers throw the ball less than most teams. Their 309 pass attempts are the fewest in the NFL and they are only one of four teams — the Ravens, Falcons and Bears are the others — that have more run plays than pass plays this season.”
“So what’s going on? Shanahan’s offense, heavy on play-action passing, pre-snap motion and unpredictability, is more about the system than the quarterback. And that means it’s stripped of its strengths in hurry-up comeback mode, with the QB in predictable passing situations.
The 0-36 stat reminds me of what Fox analyst Greg Olsen said during the 49ers’ romp over the Buccaneers last season in Brock Purdy’s first career start. Shanahan had explained to Olsen in a production meeting why he thought the 49ers could remain successful with the seventh-round rookie replacing Jimmy Garoppolo.
It offers insight into why the 49ers could struggle when the QB must assume a heavier burden when trailing late in games.
“It’s very different from how most NFL teams are built — or they try to build — which is around the quarterback position,” Olsen said. Shanahan “said we wanted to get a really strong defense. And we wanted to surround our quarterback with a system of play design and talent to alleviate as much pressure off their shoulders as possible. So what they ask out of Brock Purdy is not going to be very different than what they asked out of Jimmy Garoppolo.”
“It does bring up an interesting question, however: If the 49ers go to Detroit for the NFC semifinal, win and play in Philadelphia the next Sunday, would they stay on the East Coast (or Midwest) to practice and prepare?”
“The simple appraisal here is the 49ers’ top-ranked offense has the edge over the Eagles’ No. 14-ranked defense while the matchup on the other side of the ball (Philadelphia’s No. 4 offense against the 49ers’ No. 8-but-surging defense) looks closer to a draw.”