“In 1979, the Dodgers signed Fernando Valenzuela out of the Mexican League. In 1981, as a 20-year-old starter, he won the Cy Young and was voted NL Rookie of the Year. He had the Force.
The Force, as I see it, has four elements:
• The person must come from nowhere. Purdy was Mr. Irrelevant, which is perfect. When Valenzuela signed, there was nobody more irrelevant to MLB than a short, skinny (yes), teenaged curveballer from the Mexican League. Back then, nobody walked out of the Mexican League into the big leagues.
• The person must make an immediate and shocking impact. Purdy, well, you’re still watching that unfold. When he walked into the 49ers’ huddle, they became a different and better team. Valenzuela — oh, my. He won his first eight starts, including seven complete games and five shutouts.
• The person must perform way above his/her physical skill level and pay grade. Valenzuela was 5-foot-11; his fastball topped at about 93 mph. His rookie salary was $130,000. Purdy is 6-1, not fast, and many consider his arm weak. He is making about $870,000 this season. As a rookie, Valenzuela lived with a Dodgers scout. Purdy currently lives with a roommate, just like many youngsters starting a career.
• The person must have mystical smarts. I covered Valenzuela during his run in Los Angeles, and the only logical explanation I ever heard for him dominating hitters was that he simply outsmarted them. He figured out what the hitter was expecting and he threw something else. Here’s Young on Purdy: “The best quarterbacks, whether it’s in their physiology, spirituality, their genetics in some ways, it allows for what naturally happens to not happen. Suddenly, the crazier it gets, the more peaceful you are.”
“I was like, ‘Bro, I know you got hurt, but you’ve got to step up a little bit because the coaches, it’s clear they want you out here,’ ” Ward said. “There may not be too many more of these opportunities. It was like a real heart-to-heart. And I think he took it and I think he ran with it.
“He’s not balling because of me. It’s him. But I just tried to have a heart to heart with him and let him know like, ‘Bro, there’s not going to be too many more chances.’ ”
“Shanahan steps in: Shanahan is known for his offensive mind, but he’s also mindful of what’s happening with his defense.
Last week, he stepped in on the day of a 31-13 win over Seattle to edit the 49ers’ plan for covering Pro Bowl wide receiver DK Metcalf, presumably crafted by defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Shanahan indicated Wednesday he wanted Charvarius Ward, who typically stays at left cornerback, to follow Metcalf on every snap. General manager John Lynch had informed Shanahan the defensive game plan was different.
“John just knew how I felt about something and he just relayed something to me that I heard about,” Shanahan said. “So I just went and talked about it and fixed it.”
Shanahan indicated the original plan called for Ward to travel with Metcalf periodically. Not surprisingly, Shanahan’s suggestion was taken and defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks informed Ward of the change before kickoff.
“I had an opinion on how I wanted to start it out and decided to share that with some of the guys and they agreed,” Shanahan said. “Once (Ward) was on board it made it pretty easy.”
“Defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot), running back Jordan Mason (hamstring), and wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (ribs) were not scheduled to practice on Wednesday, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.”
“I don’t see why it wouldn’t be legal unless guys were getting hurt a lot,” Bosa said. “I don’t know how they get so much push, so I’ll definitely be watching tape on it this week when we get into it. I’m impressed with how good they are at it. We got to be good on first and second [down], because you don’t want to have to deal with that too much throughout the game.
You know, I haven’t taken too much time to think about it, to be honest with you. Honestly, I think if people were getting hurt, it would be something I would be against, but if that’s not happening, more power to them.”
“Now a key member of the 49ers’ defensive line, Hargrave said he never saw the Eagles’ offense practice the short-yardage play.
And when asked if he has an idea on what he will do to defend it on Sunday, he answered, with a laugh, “Nah. I wish.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan offers, perhaps, the best suggestion to defend Jalen Hurts’ quarterback sneak behind center Jason Kelce, where if Hurts does not move the chains on the first surge, he has two teammates in a bunch formation behind him to give him a push.
“I know it’s possible to stop, but it’s proven that it’s extremely hard,” Shanahan said. “So you try to keep them out of those situations.”