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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

How Steve Young expects defenses to attack 49ers QB Brock Purdy down the stretch

Dec 9, 2022 at 7:10 AM--

Quarterback Brock Purdy will face the No. 7 ranked defense in the NFL this weekend when the San Francisco 49ers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium. So it's a good thing that, in his first week of practice as QB1, he's going against the top-ranked defense in the league.

The Buccaneers defense also ranks No. 5 in points allowed and passing yards allowed, so Sunday won't be an easy outing for the rookie passer in his first NFL start.

Last week, Purdy finished 25-of-37 for 210 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception against the Miami Dolphins, the quarterback's first extended action of his pro career. One Hall of Fame quarterback was asked what fans should expect to see from Purdy, who takes over the 49ers offense for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. And how are opposing defenses going to try to shut him down?

"What Kyle tries to do is to create an environment where you don't, as a quarterback, have to take huge risks to get into a groove," Steve Young said Thursday on KNBR's Tolbert & Copes show. "You can be, at halftime, 12 of 14 or 15, and not take a bunch of risks. So, what they're going to try to do is put him in a position where he can get those, I would say the extension of the running game kind of throws, whether it's the slip screen or the bubbles or the slants."

Those types of plays can build a quarterback's confidence early in a game. Purdy showed on Sunday that he has no shortage of confidence. The 22-year-old quarterback looked calm and collected as he led the 49ers to a 33-17 victory over the Dolphins.

However, opposing defenses also know that Purdy lacks experience, and these games down the stretch are significant, with the 49ers sitting in first place in the NFC West but having the Seattle Seahawks in the rearview mirror.

"And so, defensively, what you're going to see [against] Brock is, 'We're not going to give you those. We're going to force you to make the big-boy throws,'" Young explained. "And that's where Brock has tremendous opportunity because they're going to [give him] that opportunity. They're going to crowd the line of scrimmage, shut the running game down, shut down the cheap bubble screens, the [WR] Deebo [Samuel] stuff, the running. Just put people at the line of scrimmage and say to Brock Purdy, 'All right now, big-timer, let's see you do something down the field.' And I think that's the opportunity."

Purdy was an unknown commodity entering Week 13. NFL teams won't be surprised by Purdy in the coming weeks. The question now is how the young quarterback will respond.

"But I can't imagine defenses, in the next few weeks, will allow Brock to be in that 25 of 37, like they were against Miami, because they've prepared for him," Young said. "I suspect you'll see them try to smoother, take the air out of the system, and then Brock's going to have to expand it himself. He's going to have to make those big throws under pressure and then force them back."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Young below.


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