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49ers tidbits: How Kyle Shanahan, Brock Purdy, others are impacting the NFL postseason

Marc Adams
Feb 4, 2024 at 9:19 AM--

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The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs are a week away from squaring off in Super Bowl LVIII. This week will be filled with interviews, breakdowns, speculations and predictions. Which players will shine? Who will make game-changing plays, whether good or bad?

There is still plenty of time to discuss all those things. For now, here are some 49ers tidbits to prepare you for the media craze of Super Bowl week.

Quickest comeback

Do you like a good comeback story? They can indeed be stressful, and perhaps not healthy for your heart, but everyone loves a comeback. In the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers did it more efficiently and quickly than any team ever has in the playoffs. It's not the largest comeback, but it is the fastest.

Per Nick Wagoner, of ESPN, "In NFL history, 114 teams have trailed by 17+ points at halftime of a playoff game. Only one of those teams was no longer trailing entering the fourth quarter: The Niners on Sunday night." The 49ers wiped away a 17-point halftime deficit faster than any team in NFL postseason history. They only needed about 12 minutes of game time to tie the game.

The 49ers come-from-behind win against the Detroit Lions is tied for the largest comeback in NFC Championship Game history. The team they tied? The 2012 San Francisco 49ers, who overcame a 17-point deficit against the Atlanta Falcons. That game also featured a young 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who was in his second season, but first as a starter.

Lockdown corners

Good luck throwing on the 49ers top two cornerbacks. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir were great in coverage against the Lions, surrendering only three catches for 19 yards. Lenoir has been excellent on the outside and at the nickel. He also tackles well in the run game and brings a lot of attitude and fight to the defense. Ward, meanwhile, can shut down the opposing team's top wide receiver, and keep them from being a factor in the game.

There was a time when the 49ers' pass rush carried the defense, covering up for a secondary that was the weak link. But with the emergence of Lenoir and Ward, the pass rush doesn't always have to carry the defense. If the 49ers can somehow get pressure on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, the 49ers secondary will be ready to make a lot of plays, especially the two lockdown corners.

All-world tackle

Who is the best offensive tackle in the NFL? It's arguably Trent Williams, who has put together a Hall of Fame career that has made him one of the best tackles of all time. And even late in his career, he is still the best in the league right now.

Per PFF, Williams did not give up a single pressure against the Lions. He's allowed four total pressures in the last seven games. That's so impressive.

But Williams isn't only elite as a pass protector. He's also one of the game's best run blockers. If you watch the 49ers very much, it doesn't take long to see that Head Coach Kyle Shanahan loves running to Williams' side. And for good reason. Williams consistently creates space for his running backs.

Third-youngest starting QB

As if 49ers' quarterback Brock Purdy hasn't already done enough to impress, he has his team in the Super Bowl, and, according to Fox Sports, is the third youngest QB ever to start in the big game. Purdy is older than only Miami's Dan Marino and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger.

In less than one and a half seasons as the 49ers starting quarterback, Purdy has led his team to the postseason twice, which includes two NFC Championship Games and now the Super Bowl. Purdy is 4-1 in the postseason, and 4-0 in postseason games in which he started and finished the game. That's quite the start to his NFL career, especially considering no one thought he'd bring much to the team when he was drafted.

This past week, 49ers CEO, Jed York, revealed that during the 2022 training camp, when Purdy was the third-string QB, Shanahan told York that he believed Purdy was the team's best quarterback. General Manager, John Lynch, was asked about the conversation Shanahan had with York, and said, "I was there when he told Jed that and my jaw hit the floor. Kyle was fairly prophetic that day because he's turned into a pretty special player for us."

Return of the Bear

After a few unimpressive games by star defensive lineman Nick Bosa, the NFL's highest-paid defensive player came up big in the NFC Championship Game. According to PFF, Bosa had eight pressures, two sacks, two quarterback hits, two tackles, and three run stops against Detroit. It was what the 49ers needed as they secured the comeback and a return to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers will be counting on Bosa and the rest of the pass rushers to make Mahomes uncomfortable. Beating the Chiefs in the Super Bowl will be difficult to accomplish, and almost impossible without a strong pass rush.

49ers' top postseason tackler

Perhaps the most impressive 49ers tidbit comes from Wagoner, who wrote, "LB Fred Warner had 13 tackles last night. That gives him 84 career postseason tackles and moves him past NaVorro Bowman (78) for the most tackles in 49ers playoff history." So Warner has more tackles in the playoffs than any player in 49ers history? More than Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley? More than four-time Super Bowl Champion Keena Turner? More than Patrick Willis? It's true. Warner is the 49ers all-time postseason leader.

Warner has played in only 11 postseason games. Haley played in 12 postseason games with the 49ers. Lott played in 19. But to be fair, an inside linebacker will always have more tackles than an edge rusher or a safety.

So what about the other linebackers? Willis, Bowman, and Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds all played in eight postseason games. Bill Romanowski played in 12 postseason games with the 49ers, while Turner played in an impressive 18 postseason games with the 49ers.

And yet Warner leads them all. He is a true talent at the position.

Postseason Shanahan

Shanahan is already considered one of the top coaches in the NFL. A Super Bowl win would place him among the best who have ever coached. But Shanahan is already making his presence known, especially in the playoffs.

According to 49ers reporter, Eric Branch, Shanahan is tied for the second-best postseason winning percentage at .727 (8-3). That puts him behind only Vince Lombardi and ties him with Tom Flores. It also places Shanahan ahead of legendary coaches like Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs, and Bill Belichick.

And if that wasn't impressive enough, Shanahan's eight postseason wins puts him only two behind Walsh and George Seifert (10) for most in 49ers' history and puts him in a tie with his father, Mike Shanahan. And to think that his team, which was dismantled and built from scratch in 2017, started his coaching career at 0-9.

Will Shanahan pass his dad, and move to within one of Walsh and Seifert next Sunday? Will Bosa wreak havoc against the Kansas City offensive line? Will Purdy become the second-youngest QB ever to win a Super Bowl?

We'll know the answers in about one week.
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