49ers News: Why the 49ers offense is buzzing with Brock Purdy at the helm

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Since Brock Purdy took over as starting quarterback, the 49ers’ offense has scored 2.52 points per shot, a number that would rank fourth in the NFL this season. If you remove the four boosts that resulted in kneeling, that number jumps to 2.76 points per boost. For reference, the Kansas City Chiefs are currently ranked first in the league in that category at 2.72 points per drive.

So how did the 49ers manage to maintain that top-notch efficiency while adjusting to their third different starting quarterback this season? Just look at the skill that Purdy has shown to have the often overlooked but eternally invaluable ability to hit the open man within the framework of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

There’s a reason you often hear respected experts and former players rave about Shanahan and his scheme, often referring to it as the most quarterback-friendly system in the NFL.

There may not be a better caller in the NFL than Shanahan when it comes to understanding opponents’ defensive rules and using them to exploit weaknesses in coverage, which in turn creates open lanes.

Purdy has shown a consistent ability to spot those open reads and pull the trigger on shots that may not be glamorous on the surface, but led to huge plays that resulted in explosive scoring that saw the 49ers average offensive 31 points per game in their three starts. .

Here’s a great example of the 49ers’ Week 14 victory over the Buccaneers. With 1:30 left in the first half, Purdy is able to hit Brandon Aiyuk on a “Swirl” route for a 25-yard gain.

By NFL standards, Aiyuk is wide open, and this is a shot you’d like to think most quarterbacks at this level will see and execute. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and even if it were, who cares if a shot is taken in a tight window or the target is completely uncovered? All that matters is the end result, which on this drive turned out to be a touchdown on a drive that was triggered by this chunk play.

Speaking of that touchdown, it also highlighted Purdy’s ability to see opportunities that aren’t always apparent in this scheme. Part of Shanahan’s greatness stems from his ability to give a quarterback confidence in a predetermined reading before the ball is even played due to how often that primary look on a given call will, in fact, be opened.

On this play, the 49ers are running “Tony Knife” and the primary read for Aiyuk is available for the taking. Man coverage dictates Aiyuk to come out, and Purdy could have easily pulled the trigger for a decent gain that put the 49ers in a better position to score a field goal going into halftime, which would have been understandable and more than acceptable. .

Christian McCaffrey will run a ‘Go’ route on a built-in alert, and Purdy is able to spot the separation McCaffrey has on the closer fielder and allows it to happen for a 28-yard touchdown.

That’s the difference between simple execution and excellence. By most measures, it would be a success if Purdy pulled the trigger in a predetermined appearance and set up an easier field goal attempt for Robbie Gould.

Instead, Purdy and the 49ers offense managed a touchdown by delivering what was the final blow to the Buccaneers’ winning chances before the first half even ended.

One of the things that stands out about this pitch is something that regularly stood out during Purdy’s time as a starter. Ball placement. This is critical even when throwing to wide receivers due to the ability of the immensely talented positional players on the 49ers roster to rack up yards after catching.

There was a great example of this in the 49ers’ Week 16 victory over the Commanders, when Purdy hit George Kittle with an exceptionally placed ball that allowed Kittle to rack up an additional 15 yards after the catch. Once again, Kittle is wide open, but the ability to hit him quickly turned what would have been a modest gain into an explosive play.

The ball placement creating chunk plays was also evident on the second touchdown of the afternoon when Purdy hit Kittle. Despite Kittle being as open as possible at this level of football, Purdy is able to maximize yards after catching because of where he puts the ball.

While the scheme does a lot of leg work here, Purdy has also done a tremendous job in making the system work for him and in turn creating an easier post-snap process as he works on his progressions.

See this example from the Commanders game. The 49ers will dial in a ‘Sail’ concept that floods the fieldside with a 9/7/flat three-tier route combo. Kyle Juszczyk moves through the formation before the snap, bringing with him a roving Washington quarterback who will alert Purdy that the commanders are in man’s cover.

This allows Purdy to block the “Chase” route for Aiyuk, which will be the preferred read with that area of ​​the field cleared by the route being run by Jauan Jennings. Aiyuk runs a great route that creates separation at the top of his pole, and Purdy hits him for a 54-yard gain.

As long as Shanahan is the one dialing in the plays for this 49ers offense, those open reads will be there for whoever’s at the center. And when you combine Purdy’s ability to execute within this scheme with players’ treasure trove of positional ability to catch the ball, it creates optimism that this isn’t a flash in the pan and that this offense can sustain the level of success needed. to keep on the path to championship glory.


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