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49ers-Giants: Brock Purdy overcomes inconsistent start to get the better of aggressive Giants blitz

Sep 21, 2023 at 11:00 PM--

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Brock Purdy was admittedly off his game early on against the New York Giants Thursday night, but by the time the game was over he compiled some impressive numbers, especially considering what he was up against.

The 49ers quarterback was off target at times over the first two quarters of his team's 30-12 win over the Giants Thursday night, as he completed 14-of-25 passes in the first half with 157 yards and a touchdown. But Purdy finished the night having completed 25-of-37 passes for 310 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions, with a passer rating of 111.3. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Purdy was blitzed on 33 of his 39 dropbacks, which is the highest blitz rate in any game during the Next Gen Stats era (84.6 percent). Purdy completed 20 of 31 passes against the blitz for 247 yards and two touchdowns.

Purdy and the 49ers knew they would be seeing a blitz-happy defense Thursday night -- the Giants led the league in blitz rate last season at 44.7 percent. They were ready to take advantage when the opportunities to do so presented themselves.

"Obviously, that's the risk that the defense is taking," Purdy told reporters following the game. "When they're blitzing, we can capitalize on offense with some big plays. And so we had some stuff dialed up for what we were going to do when they did blitz.

"But at the same time, if you're not on point, then they're going to get you. And so there's a couple of times in the game where they got us, but at the same time, I feel like we were able to get a couple of plays here and there on their blitz and take advantage of it. So it's something that we got to watch the film, learn from it. When another defense starts to pressure and do things like that, I feel like there's big plays to be made."

Purdy said it took a bit for the offense to get comfortable against the blitz, but once that happened, things got rolling.

"There were some looks that were there that I was off, inaccurate or some things just didn't happen right within our scheme," Purdy said. "And so, yeah, I felt like it was a little choppy at first, and then once we got into a rhythm, we sort of saw what they were doing. At one point in the game, they're going to start doing stuff. We had a good feel for it I feel like a couple of drives into the game."

Purdy and the 49ers capitalized off the playmakers they had available on offense to beat the blitz, led by running back Christian McCaffrey (18 carries, 85 yards, one touchdown) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (six catches, 129 yards, one touchdown). With the Giants sending extra players on zero blitzes, it allowed for some extra yardage from the players who specialize in getting it.

"When people zero, they're always bringing one more than you, usually," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. "It depends if the guy's blocking, if they want to hug up or drop into coverage. And usually they're hugging up.

"So you got to get rid of the ball fast when in situations like that. But that's also why you got some good looks to run with it because if you make one guy miss, there's no one else left. And we got some guys who are pretty good at making people miss and pretty good at breaking tackles."

Shanahan will certainly find plays Purdy can improve upon from Thursday night's game film, but overall he was happy with his quarterback's performance, particularly considering it came after a short week of preparation.

"It definitely wasn't his best game, but I think Brock played well," Shanahan said. "I mean, he definitely wasn't perfect. Missed a couple of throws, but he also made a couple of plays that I didn't think were there. So I was definitely happy with him."

As for Purdy, it sounds like he's not as interested in his stat line as others. He'll be focused more on how he can improve from where things went wrong in the early going against the Giants.

"I don't really get wrapped up in the stats and stuff," Purdy said. "I feel like there's some throws out there that I missed that could have obviously helped us get the lead earlier and quicker and faster. So those are the things that sort of are in my mouth that I sort of have a bad taste from that I want to be better at. So we'll watch the film, keep getting better, and we just want to keep winning."

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