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Brock Purdy earns high marks for leading the 49ers from behind

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LAS VEGAS – Since taking over from Jimmy Garoppolo, rookie Brock Purdy has faced and passed numerous trials for the San Francisco 49ers.

But what he got from the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday was perhaps his toughest yet.

The Niners faced a fourth-quarter deficit for the first time with Purdy in the starting lineup, and no one knew how he would handle it. But, as he did with every other Test, Purdy got higher grades when the 49ers won a penalty shootout 37-34 against the Raiders.

It was San Francisco’s ninth straight victory, the longest streak since a high of 11 games in 1997.

Purdy became the first rookie quarterback to win four consecutive games since Ben Roethlisberger went 13-0 in 2004. That he did it in a game in which the Niners managed only their second victory by trailing by double digits in the second half since Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017, leaving his trainer and many of his teammates ready to tell you that this is more than a flash in the pan.

“What Brock is doing is real,” Shanahan said. “He’s a talented guy who is very tough, and when he makes mistakes he understands why and then he tries to learn from them. He doesn’t have a lot of experience in this league. So every time he goes there, whether it’s good or bad, I I feel that when you have the skill set and play it right he will only get better from it. So there were a number of situations that happened today that he didn’t come into his other four games, and yeah I think that helps .”

Purdy completed 22 of 35 passes for 284 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a QBR 68.5. It was his fifth straight game with multiple touchdown passes, tied for the second longest streak by a rookie since the 1970 merger (Chargers’ Justin Herbert threw seven straight games in 2020). And Purdy has thrown multiple touchdowns in each of the last five games, tying Dak Prescott circa 2016 as the only rookie to do so and win all five games in NFL history.

Perhaps most impressive was what Purdy was able to do in the fourth quarter. On Sunday, he played a total of nine snaps as the 49ers trailed at any point in the five games he started. All nine came when he came on for Garoppolo with 9:30 left in the first quarter of a Dec. 4 win against the Miami Dolphins.

But Purdy was, according to teammates, unfazed by the score.

“I think the kind of player he is, the kind of guy he is, how good he really is and how calm he is and he plays this game at halfback, I feel like he kind of sped me up a little bit. a little bit,” said receiver Brandon Aiyuk. “Today really showed us that I think this guy is on a different level and he can play for sure.”

After trailing 24-14, Purdy led four Niners scoring drives in regulation. In the final two, he was 6 of 10 passes for 113 yards, with one drive ending in a Jordan Mason touchdown and another on a missed field goal.

Purdy, who said he hadn’t played in a tie situation since his time at Iowa State, credited Shanahan for his play and his talented teammates for helping along the way. But he also didn’t mind finally facing some pressure from the game.

“I don’t need to feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I have to perform or else,” Purdy said. “I just have to do my job. So to have that kind of game, it was great to feel like that in the fourth quarter, the game is on the line and now we have to go and hold points. It was great for me to go through that and feel again.”

With the win, the Niners passed the Minnesota Vikings for second place in the NFC playoffs. Although the teams have the same record, the Niners hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their best record in NFC games (9-2). San Francisco would close out second with a win next Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals or a Vikings loss to the Chicago Bears.

San Francisco still has a shot at being the No. 1 seed (and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs) if they beat the Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles lose to the New York Giants in Week 18.

“I think it’s very important,” Shanahan said. “Our first goal is to make the playoffs. I call it a tournament, and once you get there, you always have a chance for the ultimate goal. And all about once you get there is positioning yourself as best you can. , and we don’t know until we go in, but them just telling us and being able to tell the team that now that we have the 2-seed if we can take care of business, I know that excites the guys, and I think with the loss of Philly , it looks like we also have a chance on the other. Our playoffs started a long time ago, that’s the way we look at it and we’re going to continue.