The San Francisco 49ers have become the scariest team in the NFL over the last seven weeks of the season. On Sunday, the Niners continued to invoke their dominance over the NFC by shutting down and nearly shutting out Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 35-7. Besides having the best defense in the league, the attribute that stands out most about San Francisco is their resilience.
This Niners squad is on such a roll and playing so cohesively that it doesn’t matter who they throw out there at the most important position in football. San Francisco is down to their third-string QB, a guy named Brock Purdy, who was selected last and deemed “Mr. Irrelevant” in April’s draft.
All Purdy did in his first start after replacing the injured Jimmy Garoppolo was outplay the greatest QB in NFL history. Purdy’s stat line wasn’t overly impressive, but under the circumstances, he played as well as the #bangbangninergang could have hoped for. The seventh-round pick completed over 76 percent of his passes with just five incompletions. He threw as many touchdowns as Brady did picks, which was two.
Purdy was a game manager and then some, as he made plays when called upon and didn’t just hold on for dear life. Once Jimmy G went down the previous week against Miami, it felt like the wind had been let out of the Niners’ sails initially since Garoppolo had recently played some of the best football of his career. The new kid on the block, Purdy, came in early during the 49ers’ win over the Dolphins and showed a few flashes of what might be. This week against the Bucs, he backed that up by posting a 134 passer rating with his family in attendance, whom he went and embraced in the stands following the victory.
Although the Niners played great all around, there was another tense moment this week when All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel went down with what is being reported as a high ankle sprain. It was bad enough that Samuel was carted off the field, and after watching that scene with five minutes remaining until halftime, a little doubt had to creep in even with a firm 21-0 lead.
But that injury to one of San Francisco’s best playmakers fueled them on both sides of the ball. It would’ve been easy to let up with a three-score lead, but the Niners did what they’ve done through this six-game winning streak. They kept playing hard-nosed defense and running the ball down their opponent’s throats. SF scored 14 more points after Samuel left the game.
Christian McCaffrey rushed for 114 yards and a TD, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Jordan Mason even contributed 56 yards and over five yards per carry. The Niners’ defense caught two Brady passes, and while they didn’t record an official sack, they were in his face all day. Brady gets the ball out so quickly that it’s hard to get home, but bringing pressure in his face clearly has its effect, especially at this stage.
Simply put, the 49ers are freaking good. Really freaking good. The Cowboys, Vikings, and, dare I say, even the “almighty” Philadelphia Eagles do not want to face these Niners in the postseason.