I had a chance to catch up with former NFL player, current DraftKings analyst, and host of the Ross Tucker Football Podcast to discuss the national media versus Brock Purdy, whether Kyle Shanahan needs to get the monkey off his back, and the keys for the 49ers to move on to Las Vegas.
I wanted to ask you about the media and the hesitance to praise Brock Purdy. My theory is it’s a lot of draftism. It’s so easy to bet against the last pick in the draft than it is not to give a first-round draft pick six or seven chances because they were drafted there for a “reason.”
I’ve got to mention that I’ve never heard that term before, Jason. I love it, and I’m going to start using it, and I’m going to forget that you’re the one who told me, but draftism is amazing.
That’s amazing. That’s exactly what it is. I would say. It’s threefold. Okay, number one, draftism for sure is a big part of it. Right? Like if he were a first-round pick, like even like Mac Jones, okay, people would just talk about how accurate he is, how smart he is, how efficient he is, you know, and that’s why he got drafted where he did.
So, it’s one of my most frustrating things about the NFL. How long does your draft status stay with you, right? It’s hilarious to me to watch some of these first-round picks that get like three years. They can be terrible for three years, and they keep getting opportunities. They keep getting chances.
Whereas if you’re like me and an undrafted free agent, you’re bad once you’re done. I mean, you know, like you just don’t get those opportunities. So, draftism is a very real thing. I think the second biggest part of that is. I’m going to call it, highlight videoism. If you’re going to go draftism, I’m going to call it highlightism.
And the problem with Brock Purdy is he doesn’t do things that wow us physically, right? He doesn’t run over guys like Josh Allen. He doesn’t run all over the place like Lamar Jackson. He doesn’t make ridiculous sideways throws like Mahomes or Josh Allen or some of these guys. He doesn’t have a cannon like Justin Herbert. He doesn’t physically wow us.
Do you know who else didn’t physically wow us? Tom Brady. Do you know who else didn’t physically wow us? Drew Brees, and I think those guys always got discounted a little bit to a lesser extent, Peyton Manning, because his last name was Manning.
We have become, because of social media, such a highlight reel social media clip society, that there are people who think that Justin Fields is a better quarterback than Brock Purdy because Justin Fields has a stronger arm and because Justin Fields has some ridiculously impressive plays where he runs all over the field and runs in for a touchdown or whatever. That is not what makes somebody good or not, that is potential, that shows their upside, their ceiling, their ability to make plays that those are all wonderful things.
What separates non-NFL players from NFL players average from good, good from great - it’s consistency. It’s how often you can perform at a really high level. Nobody ever watched Tom Brady and was like, Oh my God, did you see that seven-yard pass to Wes Welker? Oh, wow. Did you see the way he threw the ball to Edelman in one and a half seconds for eight yards?
No, and you know what people said: Brady’s a system quarterback. Brady’s O-line is so great. Brady’s, oh really? How has that worked out for New England since Brady left? What did Brady do when he went to Tampa? Won a Superbowl. It’s not the system. It’s the person operating the system. The last thing is Kyle Shanahan is a really good coach.
All of those guys from the Shanahan tree are, there’s a reason why Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins had the number-one-ranked offense in the league. There’s a reason why LaFleur and Jordan Love very much exceeded expectations towards the second half of the year and in the postseason and almost beat your guys.
By the way, there’s a reason why Sean McVay is getting incredible efficiency from that offense and ridiculous production from fifth-round picks like Kyren Williams and Puka Nakua. It works. Bobby Slowik in Houston. It works, it’s good, and it’s a good system, but you still need someone to operate the system at a high level.
I’m glad you did bring up Kyle Shanahan because this team has been very close. It’s been three straight years in the NFC championship game. Everyone labels Kyle Shanahan a genius. The offense is spreading across the league.
Whether you’re running the full system, you’re running something that Kyle has run. Does this feel like a do-or-die season or just like a moment that he needs to seize because he cannot continue to be the guy who gets the team close and doesn’t finish the job?
Well, there will always be that perception of Kyle until he wins one, but that’s everybody, right? I mean, that’s Josh Allen and Sean McDermott in Buffalo. That’s Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. You know that that’s really everybody until they win one. And honestly, Jay, they don’t really say that about you until you’re knocking on the door a lot. You know what I mean? Like. You have to go to a lot of conference championship games and make it to a Super Bowl before people start having this knock on you.
I will say this is a golden opportunity playing at home as the number one seed against Detroit. You just don’t know when these chances are going to come right. And I know the perception is the Niners will be good for years, and maybe they will. And that’d be great. But Green Bay is coming. Philly is a pretty good chance.
They’ll bounce back. And I said this last year when the Eagles were in the Super Bowl, you know, I do a lot of stuff in Philadelphia media when they were the Eagles in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs, they had to make the most of that. That was the best roster in the league. It was the best roster in team history.
I thought they were the best team in the NFL last year, and they didn’t get it done. You know why? Because the Chiefs are really stinking good. As you guys know, the Chiefs, Andy Reid, and Mahomes are like the new Belichick and Brady, where it feels like you almost have to play a perfect game to beat them.
We’ve seen this now for so many years. The Niners had such a good game. You know, Jimmy G misses the one throw. They lose. The Eagles and Hurts was awesome, but that fumble return for a touchdown was the difference in the game. They’re very unlikely to beat themselves.
So, you got to beat them, and we’ll see whether or not Baltimore can do it. I personally think Baltimore is the best team in the league. And there’s a lot of statistics that backed that up. They’re extremely impressive on both sides of the ball, but that doesn’t mean, you know, I would love to go through the Super Bowls sometime and just decide in my mind, how many years the team I really thought was the best that year.
One, this year, but it doesn’t matter, right? All that matters is who wins, but it’s not always the best team. I thought the Eagles were better than the Chiefs last year. And if they played them five times. They would have beaten them three or four of them potentially, but that’s not who won it. And maybe other years, maybe the year before when the Bengals beat the Chiefs, the Chiefs were really better.
I don’t know, but you got to win that game that day, a golden opportunity for the Niners to at least get to the Super Bowl. And then once they get there, obviously they’ll have a very formidable foe, but I think this would be a bad loss to your point. I think it’d be a bad loss to lose at home to Detroit.
This is the one. As a touchdown favorite, you have got to win this game, if you’re Kyle Shanahan.
What are the keys for the 49ers to move on to Las Vegas?
So a couple of them jump out on the defensive side of the ball, and they probably both have to do with the guys up front.
I think, number one, they need to do a better job stopping the run than they did against the Packers. That front needs to be more dominant and not just stopping the run, and getting a pass rush, the Lions do so much play action under center play action. I’m curious whether or not the Niners can find a way to get a rush, right?
What happens is if it’s first down play action, the defensive lineman, a lot of times are thinking run and stopping the run by the time they transition rush and realize, oh, no, it’s actually a pass. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard to go from locking your guy out, stopping the run to next thing, you know, Oh boy, I got to transition. This is a pass.
That’s why Jared Goff looks like he has all kinds of time. So, I would say that on the defensive side of the ball. Regarding the offensive side of the ball, I had no idea Jay, until hosting the Even Money podcast this week on the Draft Kings Network. Did you know that Deebo Samuel is the single most valuable non-quarterback player in the NFL? From a point-spread perspective from my co-host on the Even Money Betting podcast.
I said wait, what, how is that possible? They have Brandon Aiyuk, Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey. I’m sure you know this, but the Niners average two yards more per play when Deebo’s in there than when he’s not.
That equates to one and a half to two points against the spread. That’s how much of a difference-maker Deebo is. He needs to be healthy and needs to be Deebo. I think he’ll be out there. We’ll see if he’s full-throttle Deebo or not, and then I also think they need to attack the corners, the Lions. It’s rare for a team to get to the Super Bowl and win it if they have a clear, clear issue or a hole in their roster.
And for the Detroit Lions, it’s their corners. They’re not good. They’ll probably sign a free agent and draft the guy in the first round. They need to get better at corner. They’re susceptible there. They know it. Niners know it. We all know it. The Niners need to be able to take advantage of that.
You can check out the full interview here and follow Ross on X at @RossTuckerNFL & @RossTuckerPod: