49ers takeaway No. 5: Kyle Shanahan is opening the playbook further
Let’s pretend for a moment that the 49ers do make it to the Super Bowl and try to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy. We must ask the question of what makes this team different from the one that lost to the Kansas City Chiefs a few years ago.
Well, let’s answer this with another question. Let’s say you’re the head coach of an NFL franchise. Your top two quarterbacks are done for the season and your late-round rookie quarterback is your last shot at the playoffs, you have a strong team built everywhere else.
What do you do?
If your answer is “Have the young quarterback play it safe and allow everyone else to shoulder the load,” then that would be a very respectable answer that I myself would also adhere to.
Brock Purdy was only meant to be a game manager. He wasn’t meant to stretch the Buccaneers defense before demolishing them by halftime. He was just meant to not screw the whole thing up.
In just one half, he threw that all out the window. The stadium was chanting his name, his teammates were getting right behind him as he took a second playoff contender in as many weeks and put them away.
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Credit to head coach Kyle Shanahan, he made it possible. He didn’t call multiple runs or short screens to get the ball out as quickly as possible, he allowed Purdy to let it rip. He didn’t just scheme clever little plays to allow someone open underneath for extra yardage, he did things like line up Christian McCaffrey to the side and have him run down the sideline to give Purdy someone to get it to.
Shanahan’s faith has shown that Purdy isn’t just a potentially high-level backup who can handle the ship for a few games, he could be so much more.
And in the process, he sent a message to everyone else that the 49ers can beat you by more than ramming it down the throat of the other team. This is a team that’s perfectly willing to throw the ball, too.
That’s the answer to the initial question. This is a team that actually has looked better with Purdy at the helm. You could perhaps argue that two weeks isn’t enough of a sample size and that’s a fair argument, but these past two weeks have surpassed the expectations of everybody.