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Golden Nuggets: One sleep away

Your daily San Francisco 49ers news for Saturday, January 27th, 2024

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49ers injury report: Deebo will play in NFC Championship Game vs. Lions

““It was kind of a relief to know it wasn’t a fracture. It was just a deep bruise or whatever,” Samuel said. “I put in countless hours and day-in and day-out to get to where we’re at right now.”

Hutchinson: Why Brock Purdy’s no enigma, and gives 49ers best shot under Shanahan at 6th Super Bowl

“His in-game awareness shows up elsewhere, too. Before Christian McCaffrey’s first touchdown run against Green Bay, Charlie Woerner was supposed to make a “return” motion. Purdy told him to stay where he was, got the snap off just before the play clock expired, and McCaffrey rumbled for a score.

Nowhere has the difference in Purdy’s elevation of the offense been clearer than in how Shanahan calls the game, and talks about him.

Shanahan’s main critique of Trey Lance was that he doesn’t “rip it,” a term he used constantly this preseason. He explicitly credited Purdy for doing just that, and frequently marvels at the passes Purdy has no business throwing, yet completes anyway.

That trust shows up in the numbers.”

Nguyen: NFL playoffs: Key matchups to watch in the 49ers-Lions NFC Championship Game (paywall)

“Schematically, no team has a more robust and diverse run game than the Lions. They do a little bit of everything, and they do it well. Where teams have had success against the 49ers is coming in with highly tailored game plans to take advantage of their ultra-aggressive single-gap defense. We saw that last week when the Packers kept running crack toss plays at them. Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will undoubtedly come into the game with many different variations of that play. To stop it, the 49ers’ defensive ends have to do a much better job of playing crack blocks, and the defense as a whole has to take better angles when pursuing outside.......As much as Goff has improved as a passer with the Lions, he still struggles when he’s pressured. Since 2022, among quarterbacks who have had at least 200 pass attempts, Goff ranks 21st in EPA per dropback when pressured. The problem for the 49ers is that it is very hard to get to him. The Lions have one of the best offensive lines in football. They are adept at blocking four-man rushes and picking up blitzes. Where the 49ers have to win is in the interior. Starting guard Jonah Jackson is out and center Frank Ragnow expects to play, but he’ll be hobbled after spraining his knee and ankle last week. Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave and Javon Kinlaw have to be dominant and disrupt Goff.”

Why 49ers can thank Allen Iverson for Trent Williams, the dancing giant (paywall)

“In basketball, you’ve got to have good feet,” Williams said this week. “I didn’t get a lot of love from my basketball coach with my style of play, but whenever I got the rebound, I took off and started the fast break.

“They put me down on the block, and that helped my footwork with the pivot and drop step. You have to be on point.”

La’Derrick Satterwhite, a childhood friend and basketball teammate dating to fourth grade, recalled how Williams had “swag” on the court in his younger days. He emulated Iverson, from the stylish way he dressed to the flamboyant way he played.

“He was a finesse player. As big as he was, he never used power, even on defense,” Satterwhite said. “I remember his dad used to holler at him about taking charges instead of blocking the shot.”

Silver: There are no excuses if 49ers lose to Lions, so cancel the whine party (paywall)

“When Campbell doesn’t let his impulses get the better of him, his bravado can be a positive for the Lions. Shanahan, who seemed to be coaching not to lose against the Packers, needs to rock out with his call sheet out on Sunday — or something like that.

Shanahan is the league’s most brilliant strategist, and he will have an excellent plan. He can’t just count on that, however. Sometimes, when things go haywire, Shanahan is so wedded to the plan that he is slow to adjust. In that sense, Samuel’s pre-existing shoulder issue is actually a positive this week; because Shanahan knows he might not be able to count on the receiver against the Lions, he can preemptively craft an alternate approach.

Whatever the variables, let’s be honest: If Shanahan can’t outcoach Campbell with a Super Bowl on the line, does he really deserve to go?”

Why Kittle believes Purdy detractors still doubt 49ers QB

“My guess is he’s the most normal-looking, average dude that you could possibly look at,” Kittle said of Purdy in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area.

“So why is he so good? It has to be because he’s got multiple All-Pros around him. He’s got a good offensive line. He’s got an amazing running back next to him. The defense is really good. There’s no pressure on him. Kyle Shanahan is really good at what he does......The reason that we’re here today is because of what (No.) 13 has done — what he does every single day; what he does on Sundays; when he gets us the ball in space,” Kittle said.

“I’ve seen a lot [of] quarterback play that isn’t great — not here with the 49ers but around the league,” Kittle said. “The way that Brock plays all the time, he’s the one who elevates us and that allows us to play at a high level. It’s a lot of nonsense. I think he’s the easiest target for people to talk crap about.”

Five 49ers to watch in NFC Championship Game vs. Lions

“Whether he’s matched against cornerback Cameron Sutton on one side or Kindle Vildor across the way, Aiyuk has a chance to feast.

Aiyuk should have the advantage any time he’s lined up on the outside in one-on-one matchups. His route-running and yards after the catch could turn this game. The Lions’ defensive backfield is not particularly physical nor are the players sure-tacklers.”

Lombardi: 49ers and Lions might be a physical match — so who has the NFC title game edge? (paywall)

“At least on paper, Purdy and his targets seem to have this significant edge over the Lions defense.

But Detroit ranks No. 1 DVOA in run defense, thanks in large part to Glenn’s 2023 pivot to a zone-heavy approach that’s better aligned the Lions against opposing rushing attacks. And that’s where this matchup gets particularly interesting.”

Lombardi: Why 49ers’ Javon Kinlaw sees Arik Armstead as his guiding light through NFL adversity (paywall)

He was fresh off his ACL reconstruction surgery in Los Angeles. That, unsurprisingly, was a low point. But Armstead ensured that it’d pack a positive punch, and Kinlaw keeps the veteran’s gesture with him to this day.

“I still remember being in the hospital bed, and them walking in with Roscoe’s Chicken ‘N Waffles,” Kinlaw said. “Arik called me. And he sent me so much food. Three waffles, 10 chicken wings. I smashed all of that. I was in there for a couple days, and I was eating good. That’s going to stick with me forever.”

....

“Learning that he’d gotten hurt, and he had grinded and he came up out of the hole to become a respected player in the league — that meant a lot to me,” Kinlaw said. “Because I was super depressed. I was watching our guys go bananas, and I wanted it to be part of it so bad.”

Said Armstead: “As a rookie, Javon was just trying to figure it out. I felt like my responsibility was to just help him as much as I could football-wise and try to be a mentor and give him all the knowledge and different things I’d learned throughout my career. His career was going a similar way as mine when I got started, being injured.

“So I wanted to help him get through that, constantly remind him that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I know how it can be when you’re in a rut. It’s depressing when you’re not feeling good and you’re in pain, with all the pressure we have to deal with as athletes. With sacrifice and hard work, he’s going to become that player that everyone knows he can be. I’ve just had a lot of belief in him, trying to do what I could to help him in his career.”