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Joe Staley applauds impact of Brock Purdy, 49ers D-line

Nov 18, 2023 at 9:00 AM--

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In 2019, Joe Staley faced a formidable San Francisco 49ers defensive line in practice. It was a unit boasting names like DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, and Nick Bosa.

A couple of those names are different this season. Still, the former offensive lineman asserts that the current unit, comprising Bosa, Armstead, Javon Hargrave, and Chase Young, is even better than that 2019 defensive front that wreaked havoc on the opposition and helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl.

During an interview on Bay Area radio station KNBR's "Papa and Lund" show, Staley shared his thoughts on the team, expressing admiration for Young's ability to win one-on-one matchups and foreseeing a potent defensive force paired with Bosa.

"He's a guy that's proven it when he's healthy on the field," Staley said. "So I think pairing him with Nick, obviously their history at Ohio State, is going to be awesome. It's going to be a rising tide, raising all ships, and I think the pressure up the middle, pushing the pocket, collapsing the pocket around the quarterback, it's going to be kind of a race to see who gets there first."

Staley sees that as a significant advantage for the players in the back end of the defense. The impact of this was evident in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, where the 49ers defense racked up five sacks, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries, limiting the Jaguars to just 221 total yards of offense.

"I think secondary, obviously, is going to benefit from that pressure," Staley continued. "Linebackers, understanding when they're going to have to really drive on those underneath routes and those concepts over the middle. We saw what it can be against a good Jacksonville offense when they were firing on all cylinders, and I expect more of the same this week against Tampa Bay."

No discussion would be complete without acknowledging the 49ers' second-year quarterback, Brock Purdy, who delivered one of the best performances of his career against Jacksonville. He completed 19 of his 26 passing attempts for 296 yards and three touchdowns with a career-high passer rating of 148.9.

Staley expressed his admiration for the 23-year-old quarterback, saying, "I've always been incredibly impressed with his poise and his maturity and his leadership that he shows. He's pretty unflappable. And I think he does a great job of taking ownership of when things are not going right, and you saw that in the three-game skid they had this year. And I think the way that he approaches everything, not only as a professional on the field but off the field as well, is great."

Staley admits being pleasantly surprised by Purdy's deep ball accuracy, even when facing significant pressure. No play exemplifies that more than Sunday's touchdown throw to tight end George Kittle. Under extreme duress, the young quarterback showed the poise and awareness of a seasoned veteran, throwing the football exactly where it needed to be.

"You can say all the stuff you want about the talent that he has around him and the system that he's playing in, and that it's easy for him, and all the stuff that people want to naysay him about," Staley shared. "When you're getting pressure in your face, it's about preparation, knowing where to go with the ball, understanding where your reads are, identifying the defenses, and then when the ability comes and being able to take advantage of coverages and being able to throw the ball downfield, do you deliver and do you deliver it in stride?

"And I think we've seen that time and again this year, and that's one thing that I've been really impressed with his game this year. And couple that with the way that he handles himself off the field and with the media and the way that he leads that locker room, I think we're looking at a quarterback that's going to be here for a long, long time."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Staley below.

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