Has the NFL figured out Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy? Don’t bet on it

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Despite being 7-0 as a starter, San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy has had his share of hiccups in the postseason.

Since taking over as the team’s starter in the first quarter of a Week 13 contest against the Miami Dolphins after starter Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a foot injury, Purdy has completed 151 of 229 passes (65 .9%) for 1,920 yards, 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions, good for a 108.0 passer rating.

Either way, these are brilliant results for any starting quarterback in the NFL, and especially for the final pick in the 2022 draft.

The 49ers are averaging 33 points per game with Purdy as the team’s starter. San Francisco averaged 22.6 points per contest before Purdy took over in Week 13.

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan said this week that he spotted Purdy’s poise and playmaking ability early in training camp, which is why he decided to place the product of Iowa State on the active roster rather than risk waiving him and try to sneak him onto the active roster. practice team

“When you have a quarterback where we did and you already have two guys, in an ideal world you hope to keep that guy on the practice squad,” Shanahan said, referring to Garoppolo and injured QB1 Trey Lance. “But [Purdy] he was so good in his performances in practice that we finally let him go in the game. Then it looked that way in the game, so we thought it would be too much of a risk to lose it, which is why we ended up having to make the decision we did.

“I’m sure we did. … He has a natural ability to play the position and that’s why he’s fun to coach. When he makes a mistake, he can see it, he can know why and we can see it. , and we can all understand that, which gives him a chance to improve.”

Supporting Brock Purdy in the NFC title game

Supporting Brock Purdy in the NFC title game

Nick Wright explains why he’s not hedging his bet on the 49ers making the Super Bowl despite rookie quarterback Brock Purdy leading the offense.

Against the Eagles in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game (3 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), Purdy will have to deal with the noise and intensity of a boisterous crowd at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Shanahan and Purdy said playing Seattle at Lumen Field late in the regular season was good preparation for what San Francisco could face Sunday.

Another thing Purdy has dealt with more in the postseason is defenses bringing more pressure. Against the Cowboys last week, Purdy was pressured on 29% of his dropbacks. Against the Seahawks in the wild-card round, he was pressured on 20% of his dropbacks.

The increased pressure has affected Purdy’s ability to push the ball down the field. According to Next Gen Stats, he has completed just 4 of 12 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown under duress in the postseason, picking up three sacks.

Purdy and the 49ers must now face one of the best passing units in the NFL in Philadelphia’s defensive front. The Eagles lead the league with 75 sacks (including the postseason), the most in the NFL since the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears.

According to Next Gen Stats, the Eagles have generated at least a 34% pressure rate in each of their last seven games.

“What affects any quarterback is how we execute and how we affect him throughout the game,” Eagles defensive coordinator Johnathan Gannon said this week.

Purdy faces his biggest test against the Eagles’ defense, the crowd

Purdy faces his biggest test against the Eagles' defense, the crowd

Colin Cowherd predicts how Brock Purdy will perform against Philadelphia.

So how will Shanahan and the 49ers protect Purdy and keep the Eagles from pinning their ears back when the rookie goes down? Running the football. The Eagles allowed 121.6 yards per game during the regular season, No. 16 in the NFL.

In particular, opposing offenses were effective running the perimeter of Philadelphia’s defense. According to Next Gen Stats, the Eagles allowed 1,150 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns during the regular season, No. 13 in the NFL.

On the other hand, the 49ers totaled 1,329 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns during the regular season, No. 7 in the league.

“I think the biggest thing is to make sure we shut down their run game,” Eagles defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “It doesn’t matter who he is, if he’s a Christian [McCaffrey] or Deebo [Samuel] – their offensive line wants to move the line of scrimmage and play on our side, where we want to play on their side. So it’s important for us to close that run and make them a one-dimensional team.”

In other words, the Eagles want to make Mr. Irrelevant win them. It will be a real test to see if he can.

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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