Would it be premature to go get a Brock Purdy tattoo?
After another poised and decisive 21-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks last night in which the San Francisco 49ers clinched the division and a playoff berth, Purdy sure seems like he's The Guy. No, Purdy doesn't have any playoff experience. (As of less than two weeks ago, Purdy had no NFL experience.) Yes, the playoffs are unforgiving, one-and-done games. Yes, it still feels a little too soon to name our firstborn Brock or to have Purdy's visage etched into our flesh.
But there's no denying it: Brock Purdy continues to exceed expectations. Even if he's the default QB, San Francisco fans are probably feeling more than comfortable with the idea of Purdy leading the Niners into the postseason.
It might be a little early for that tattoo, but it's not too early to believe that Brock Purdy is The Guy, at least for now.
What better test for the 49ers' 22-year-old, third-string quarterback than to play a prime-time road game in the famously deafening Lumen Field, aka the Hawk's Nest, aka the home of the 12th MAN? The raucous Seattle fans, screaming their heads off in a stadium with uniquely resonant acoustics, have wreaked havoc on many a visiting QB and their offense.
After trading three-and-outs with the Seahawks early in the game, the 49ers drove from around their own 15-yard line straight down the field, with Christian McCaffrey, aka CMC, establishing himself as the workhorse and eating up yards. Purdy went 9-9 for 73 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, "making him the first 49ers QB to go 9-9 or better in a first quarter since Jeff Garcia in 2001 against the Bills," according to Clutch Points.
But Purdy's pièce de résistance was on a 2nd and 8 around Seattle's 30 yard line. Standing in shotgun, as the decibels seemed to vibrate the field and my TV, Purdy took the snap, faked a throw left to Ray-Ray McCloud, faked a throw right to McCaffrey, then chucked the ball straight up the middle to George Kittle who ran it in for a touchdown.
"Tell me this guy doesn't look like he's in his seventh year in the league," said announcer Al Michaels of Purdy's exceptional composure.
And then there was that number-one-rated, ultra-physical, "violent" San Francisco defense. The Seahawks couldn't put together any kind of offensive rhythm for much of the first half, though Seattle managed a field goal to make it 7-3.
The Niners were driving late in the first half around midfield when Purdy threw what should have been an interception by Seattle safety Quandre Diggs, but the ball bounced off his neon-green jersey. (Purdy still only has one INT as the Niners' QB.) After a punt, the Seahawks started what looked like a decent drive when running back Travis Homer caught short pass for a first down. But then came Niners' linebacker Dre Greenlaw, hitting Homer and jarring the ball loose. Charvarius Ward grabbed the rock and ran it back to Seattle's five- yard line.
Cue CMC on a 2nd and goal, and it was 14-3 Niners right before the half. The famously thunderous Seattle crowd had become as quiet as church mice.
In the first minute of the second quarter, Brock Purdy threw a 20-ish-yard pass to a wide-open George Kittle who made a few moves and found the end zone again. It was 21-3, and though it was early — and though Seattle would kick another field goal halfway through the third quarter — the game felt done. There were a ton of penalties, punts, and a missed Robbie Gould field-goal attempt, but frankly, the second half was kinda boring.
Brock Purdy's most impressive plays might have been merely escaping the Seattle defense. On a 3rd and 15, Purdy dropped from the San Francisco five yard line and was chased by three neon-clad Seahawks through his own end zone. The 6'1" Purdy had to hit the jets to avoid a safety, and even managed to throw a five-yard pass to Ray-Ray McCloud. (The catch was later reviewed and found to be incomplete.) After considering Jimmy Gs two safeties this year, the moment seemed to be another test of composure for the young Purdy, and not even the last of the game.
Seattle scored a touchdown with about three-and-a half minutes left, and even though the game hadn't felt close or competitive all night, it had annoyingly become a one-possession contest at 21-13.
With about two-and-a-half minutes left, the Niners had a "yuge 3rd and 1" (according to the Brooklyn-born Al Michaels) around their own 35-yard line. Purdy took the snap and again put his legs to work, rolling, then sprinting to the sideline, extending the ball with his arm and sliding out of bounds for the first down. Seahawk's coach Pete Carroll challenged the ruling, using Seattle's last time out, but the first down stood.
So, too, did the 49ers' lead.
Would it be premature to wonder if Brock Purdy will be the starting quarterback for the 49ers next year? Apparently not.
The 49ers will face what has been their Achilles heel this year in the last three games of the regular season: Inferior teams who they're supposed to beat. The Niners will face the Washington Commanders — who actually handed the number-one ranked Philadelphia Eagles their only loss of the season thus far — at Levi's Stadium on Saturday, December 24, then play in Las Vegas against the Raiders on New Year's day, and wrap up the season in San Fran . . . sorry, Santa Clara on January 8 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Top Image: Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images