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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Steady Brock Purdy gives 49ers what they needed at QB in win over Cowboys

Jan 22, 2023 at 11:49 PM--

Quarterback Brock Purdy wasn't quite at his best in the 49ers' 19-12 Divisional Playoff win against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, but he made more than enough plays to help the 49ers advance and add another chapter to the amazing story of his rookie season.

The win moved Purdy to 7-0 as a starter and gave him his second playoff victory, which is an outstanding start for any rookie quarterback, whether they were selected first overall in the draft or last, as Purdy was in 2022. Along the way Purdy did enough to continue to impress his teammates as well as those watching him at home, including former 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who expressed his praise for Purdy on Twitter.

Purdy finished 19-of-29 for 214 yards and made multiple key passes, but perhaps his best attribute on Sunday was his poise. Purdy has become known for having rare poise for a rookie, and it was on display throughout the game, even when the offense wasn't in rhythm in the early going.

"Confident. The whole time. It was awesome," tight end George Kittle said. "I thought Brock did really well, especially when our offense wasn't doing very well early. We're getting field goals, we weren't finishing. Our defense was playing at a high level and Brock wasn't getting distraught. There was no jitteriness to him. He was just Brock Purdy, walking in the huddle, calling the play and delivering."

Purdy outperformed Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who came into the game with a hot hand after throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wasn't happy with everything he saw from Purdy and the 49ers offense, but he gave his young quarterback credit for getting the better of a tough defense in a high-pressure situation.

"He made a number of plays today," Shanahan said. "By no means was anything perfect for the whole offense and for the whole team, but it seemed like playoff football in that game. We were going against the team and just watching them all week, we had a feeling it was going to be this type of game and that's why we were stressing the run game on both sides and stressing to protect the ball and try to get turnovers and we accomplished both of those things. And when you do that stuff, you still have to make a number of plays and you saw how many George [tight end George Kittle] made today and it was awesome. It's tough to do those without the quarterback, so he made some big time plays too."

Prescott finished with 206 yards and one touchdown on 23-of-37 passing against the 49ers while also throwing two interceptions, both of which proved to be significant turning points. Purdy had at least one near-miss in the game interception-wise but came away with zero turnovers in the box score, which was the biggest difference between the two quarterbacks.

"I mean, it's huge," Purdy said. "You know, playoff football, you can't, I mean any game really in the NFL, you can't afford to be throwing the ball up or fumbling or anything like that, obviously. But when so much is on the line and you know everyone's going to be playing their best football, every drive and every moment matters. So, [quarterbacks coach Brian] Griese and Kyle have done a great job with telling me that with my decisions and everything. And I know that we've got one of the best defenses, if not the best defense in the league. So, I've just got to do my part. If we don't, if we have to punt, it's okay. Our defense will get a stop. We got trust and faith in them and we will pick up and go put points up on the board after that. But yeah, it's playoff football. We can't afford big mistakes."

Purdy did have one shaky moment in particular when he almost squandered a field goal attempt by accidentally running out the clock at the end of the first half. Purdy was trying to get a quick pass off with seven seconds remaining to ensure no time was left on the clock after the field goal attempt, but he nearly held onto the ball too long before throwing the ball out of bounds with one second left on the clock. Kicker Robbie Gould connected on the field goal attempt after the incompletion to give the 49ers a 9-6 halftime lead.

"Oh dear. That was stressful, wasn't it?" tight end George Kittle said. "Because I'm blocking on that and I turn around and he starts scrambling. I'm like, 'Why do you still have the ball? Throw it away!' The play before that was the exact same play and he's just supposed to throw it away. I'm like, 'Oh my gosh. There's no reason to make a play here Brock.' Oh my goodness, just so stressful. Rookies, man. Just rookies."

But for the most part, Purdy was reliable once again for the 49ers on Sunday and proved to be a steady presence for the team when they needed him the most. He's done it for eight consecutive games now, so it's no longer a surprise to anyone in a 49ers uniform.

"You see it every day in the way he prepares," running back Christian McCaffrey said. "You see it in practice. In games, he's just been an impressive guy to be around in the huddle. It's just who he is now."

And, as has been the case since he took over for injured former starter Jimmy Garoppolo in December, no moment was too big for Purdy on Sunday. He didn't even take too much time to think about the fact he etched his name into 49ers lore by leading the team to a playoff win over the Cowboys. That's probably a good thing, considering the weight of the challenge that awaits him in the NFC Championship against the Philadelphia Eagles next week.

"Yeah, I mean I'm just so, right now I'm still focused in a sense with just the game and what we could have done to be better," Purdy said. "But yeah, it's pretty cool to see the clock at zero and then you see like the Niners over the Cowboys, that's pretty sweet in the playoffs. So definitely, credit to the coaching staff in getting us right all week. Defense, offense, special teams, everyone just playing, it takes everybody, not just one person or a couple guys, it literally takes everybody. So, I'm just so proud of the team and playoff football is not easy, so to go and pull off a win like that against a great team like Dallas and now going to the NFC Championship, it means a lot to us and for myself, yeah, when I take a step back, it's pretty cool. Very thankful."
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