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49ers tidbits: Kyle Shanahan racking up postseason wins, Brock Purdy on the move, missing Deebo Samuel

Marc Adams
Jan 27, 2024 at 9:00 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers will battle the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The winner will play for a chance to be Super Bowl Champions, while the loser will head into the offseason. And so far, it appears the national media has thrown its support behind the Lions to upset the 49ers.

How will the 49ers handle being the unpopular favorite, going up against a very good, and loveable underdog? We'll soon find out. But for now, here are some 49ers tidbits for this week:

Most postseason wins

For two decades, the 49ers dominated the NFL, winning five Super Bowls, and a consistent contender every season. From 1981-1998, the 49ers only missed the playoffs twice. One of those seasons was the strike-shortened 1982 season, and the other was in 1991 when Steve Young only started 10 games. Steve Bono started the other six. The 49ers finished 10-6, and although they missed the playoffs, by the end of the season, they were the hottest team in the league and almost certainly would have made a lot of noise in the playoffs.

Additionally, from 1981-1998, the 49ers won at least 10 games in every season except for one (1982). That is an amazing run. The New England Patriots dynasty was even more impressive, but the 49ers did things that had not been done before.

According to Akash Anavarathan, the 49ers are tied with the Patriots for the most postseason wins of all time at 37. If the 49ers can beat the Lions, they will be the sole leader of postseason wins in NFL history.

Certainly, the winning seasons in the '80s and '90s played a part. But so did the four seasons under Jim Harbaugh (2011-2013) when they made it to the NFC Championship Game in three consecutive seasons, as well as the current regime's success, now making it to their third straight NFC title game, and fourth in five years.

Most postseason wins at home

When you have the most postseason wins in NFL history, it should come as no surprise that you might also be near the top in the most postseason home wins in NFL history. Such is the case for the 49ers who, according to Pro Football Network, have the most postseason home wins since 1970.

Candlestick Park was legendary. There were so many great 49ers moments there, from "The Catch" to how the 49ers closed out the stadium with Navarro Bowman's "pick at the stick." While Levi's Stadium wasn't initially well-received, with each postseason win, the stadium becomes a little more special. It will probably never be as beloved to 49ers' fans as Candlestick, but if the 49ers win on Sunday, it will be the second NFC Championship win at Levi's Stadium. Candlestick Park saw four NFC Championship Game wins.

Candlestick Park also saw four NFC Championship losses, and Kezar Stadium saw one conference championship loss. So far, Levi's Stadium is 1-0 in the NFC Championship Game.

Most conference championship appearances

The 49ers have appeared in more conference championship games (19 counting Sunday's game) than any team in NFL history. Of the 18 conference championship appearances that have already taken place, 10 have been at home and eight have been on the road. The 49ers are 5-5 at home in the NFC Championship Game. They are 2-6 on the road in conference championship games.

Here are those NFC Championship Game appearances, and their results:

1970: Lost to the Dallas Cowboys 17-10.
1971: Lost to the Cowboys 14-3.
1981: Beat the Cowboys 28-27, then went on to win Super Bowl XVI over the Cincinnati Bengals.
1983: Lost to the Washington Redskins, 24-21. There may have been a couple of late bad calls in this one.
1984: Beat the Chicago Bears 23-0, and went on to beat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX.
1988: Beat the Bears 28-3, and then beat the Bengals for the second time in Super Bowl XXIII.
1989: Beat the Los Angeles Rams 30-3, then massacred the Denver Broncos 55-10 to win Super Bowl XXIV.
1990: Lost to the New York Giants 15-13. This one still gives me nightmares.
1992: Lost to the Cowboys 30-20. This one hurts, too. Charles Haley playing for the Cowboys, and Joe Montana's final game in a 49ers' uniform.
1993: Lost to the Cowboys 38-21.
1994: Beat the Cowboys 38-28, and then beat the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.
1997: Lost to the Green Bay Packers 23-10.
2011: Lost to the Giants 20-17. The Kyle Williams game.
2012: Beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24, then lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
2013: Lost to the Seattle Seahawks 23-17. That's when Richard Sherman called Michael Crabtree a sorry receiver.
2019: Beat the Packers 37-20, and then lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. That stinking 3rd and 15.
2021: Lost to the Rams 20-17. If only Jaquiski Tartt could have held on to that interception.
2022: Lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 31-7. It's hard to score when you have no QB.
2023: To be determined on Sunday.

QB on the move

Per Next Gen Stats, via Anavarathan, "Brock Purdy's touchdown throw to George Kittle on Saturday was his 7th touchdown pass when 'scrambling'. That's tied for the most in the NFL this season with Josh Allen and Russell Wilson."

We all know about the plays QB Brock Purdy makes with his arm, but what he does with his legs often goes unnoticed. From moving slightly in the pocket to buying extra time, or tucking the ball and running, Purdy is good at picking his spots and making a defense pay with his legs, as well as his arm. He's not going to make anyone forget about Colin Kaepernick, but Purdy is far from a statue.

The best part about Purdy using his legs is that he primarily uses them to buy time to make a throw. His eyes are downfield, looking for receivers. Each week, Purdy makes throws on the run, and it's one of the things that separates him from recent 49ers QBs like Jimmy Garoppolo.

Missing Deebo Samuel

The 49ers offense does not look the same without Deebo Samuel, who went out after only a few plays against Green Bay. And it's not just about how the offense looks. The San Francisco offense isn't as productive or as dangerous without Samuel. The 49ers average 5.7 yards per play when Samuel isn't on the field, compared to 7.1 when he is. San Francisco also averages about two fewer points per game without Samuel as opposed to when he plays.

And Samuel makes a difference in the win column, as well. According to 49ers reporter, Grant Cohn, the 49ers have an 8-9 record without Samuel and are 53-23 with him. The 49ers need their "wide back" to play on Sunday. Moving on to the Super Bowl will be very difficult without Samuel.

Kyle Shanahan racking up postseason wins

It's hard to imagine, because the 49ers were so bad when Kyle Shanahan was hired, and they struggled for their first couple of seasons—thanks to an injury-riddled 2020, three of Shanahan's first four years were losing seasons. However, the 49ers have been so successful in Shanahan's other four seasons, that the head coach is moving up the ranks in postseason wins.

Joe Shasky, co-host of 95.7 The Game's Morning Roast, shared an interesting tidbit that shows how well Shanahan's teams have performed in his four winning seasons. Per Shasky, "One more playoff win, and Kyle Shanahan will tie his dad, Mike Shanahan, with 8 playoff wins which would be 25th or so most all time & 2 away from Seifert & Walsh who had 10 playoff wins in 49er history. Incredible that Kyle has 7 playoff wins already - that's impressive."

It is impressive that Shanahan can tie his dad with one more win. But it's even more impressive that Shanahan is only two wins away from Bill Walsh and George Seifert. And if the 49ers win the Super Bowl this season, Shanahan will have tied Walsh and Seifert, passed his father, and will have added the Lombardi trophy that has eluded him so far.

Will Shanahan and his team finally win that Super Bowl they've been working so hard to attain? A win on Sunday night is a positive step in that direction.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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