Elite Defense and O-Line can take the 49ers past the NFC’s best in the playoffs | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats & Rumors

Nick Bosa's 49ers

Nick Bosa’s 49ersSteph Chambers/Getty Images

There’s a perception in today’s NFL that a team can’t make a legitimate Super Bowl run without an elite quarterback. Well, the San Francisco 49ers are about to put that theory to the test.

San Francisco is now in its third starting quarter of the season. Still, as the 49ers showed once again Thursday night, their defense and offensive line are strong enough to challenge the best of the NFC.

Are the Seattle Seahawks among the best in the conference? No, but the 7-7 Seahawks aren’t child’s play either. Thursday’s game was a tough and physical divisional battle that San Francisco faced in a hostile environment. Although the 49ers didn’t really make it look easy, they dominated in the trenches, forced mistakes on defense and secured a decisive 21-13 victory.

The 49ers have now won seven straight and are as hot as any NFL team. They keep rolling with that aforementioned third string quarterback.

Let’s talk about rookie quarterback Brock Purdy for a moment, because he’s one of the hottest stories in San Francisco right now. Caught with the 262nd and final pick of 2022, Purdy was Mr. Irrelevant come draft weekend and largely unknown in Week 1.

Starter and 2021 third pick Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending foot injury two weeks ago, which put the keys to Purdy.

In his two games since over, Purdy has done nothing to disappoint. Against Seattle, he went 17 of 26 for 217 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a key first try on San Francisco’s final drive. He did it all without one of the 49ers’ best players, Deebo Samuel.

Most importantly, the rookie showed balance, precision, a solid understanding of Kyle Shanahan’s attack and an ability to drive the ball downfield. Take a look at this game from Thursday, in which Purdy surveys the field, works on his progressions and finds tight end George Kittle going wild in the secondary.

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GEORGE KITTLE AGAIN 😱 pic.twitter.com/k54u1Viu4g

It was Purdy’s second touchdown pass to Kittle of the game. The first is the result of some very creative game design by Shanahan.

The bottom line is that anyone high on the 49ers a few weeks ago, when Garoppolo was healthy, should still be extremely high on them, even with Mr. Irrelevant leading the offense.

And a lot of people should be high on the 49ers because of their defense, their running game and their offensive line.

The line, headlined by All-Pro Trent Williams, may open holes for mid-season trade acquisition Christian McCaffrey. The former Carolina Panthers star has become a force in San Francisco and entered Thursday’s game with 426 rushing yards, 316 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Against Seattle, McCaffrey had 108 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards and a touchdown.

That line helped pave the way for a nine-play, 71-yard rushing drive late in the game to chew up the final 3:35 and seal the win.

The line can also give Purdy time in the pocket to watch the field, which is essential in a spacing-based passing attack. Shanahan doesn’t rely heavily on timing patterns, but instead uses the threat of race and route patterns to open receivers.

If Purdy has time to see receivers open, he’s shown he can be dangerous. The 49ers are loaded with offensive playmakers, and are expected to reunite with Samuel at some point in the playoffs.

The 49ers expect Samuel to “return at some point in the regular season,” according to ESPN. Nick Wagoner.

Purdy showed he could get the ball to these playmakers.

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Brock Purdy found his TEs and RBs tonight with great success. He is 11/14 for 89 yards & 2 TDs. their EPA / TGT is 0.43, an extremely effective number to measure the success of these throws in helping the SF score

Then there’s the defense, which has been dominant since giving up 44 points to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7. Since then, San Francisco hasn’t given up more than 17 points in any game.

As of Thursday, the 49ers ranked first in rushing yards allowed, 12th in passing yards allowed, first in total yards allowed and first in points allowed for the season.

This elite defense – featuring Nick Bosa, Dr. Greenlaw and Fred Warner – gives San Francisco plenty of room for error, almost regardless of who’s under center.

That margin, San Francisco’s ability to protect the passer (24 sacks allowed on the season) and ability to run the ball is exactly why the 49ers can leapfrog teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. in the playoffs.

The Eagles, who own an NFL-best 12-1 record, were spectacular. However, they thrived by racking up points (first scorers), getting sacks (49) and forcing turnovers on defense (23).

Philadelphia also ranks a modest 24th in yards per rush allowed (4.7).

Dallas is a similarly built team, ranking third in points, third in points allowed, recording 48 sacks and amassing 23 defensive turnovers, but also allowing 4.4 yards per rushing game.

While Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott can give the Eagles and Cowboys the lead at quarterback, respectively, San Francisco matches the Eagles and Cowboys extremely well. The Minnesota Vikings, who are 10-3 but also a largely offensive team, are even better for the 49ers.

Minnesota ranks 10th in points, but dead last in yards allowed and 24th in points allowed. It’s not a formula that plays well against a point-limiting 49ers defense, especially in the second half.

San Francisco gave Seattle 10 second-half points, but it should be noted that starting cornerback Charvarius Ward was out with an injury before the Seahawks found their first touchdown.

According to the Amazon show, Ward went out for a concussion evaluation and was cleared but did not return. Before that, he was spectacular against Seahawks star DK Metcalf.

Seattle was still held to 277 total yards and 16 first downs while converting just four of 13 third downs. Rookie sensation Kenneth Walker III was limited to just 3.9 yards per carry after averaging 4.7 to the finish.

Geno Smith was sacked three times and faced constant pressure throughout the game.

Now, before prematurely crowning the 49ers as Super Bowl favorites, one important fact should be noted. We haven’t seen how Purdy fares in the face of a big deficit. There’s a difference between being a reliable game manager and being a caller who can trigger a comeback.

Of course, with this defensive and offensive line, the 49ers may not face a big deficit again until this year, at least until Super Bowl LVII, if they go that far.

The 49ers formula of winning in the trenches, with defense and on the ground has led them to two NFC title games in the past three years. There is every reason to believe that this may bring them to a third in the coming months.

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