If you’re like me, you weren’t happy to see Jimmy G go down in the game against the Dolphins. Your hope for the season…slid. You saw a rookie coming in and thought that was that. But then something happened. The rookie, a guy named Brock Purdy, played well. He didn’t just play a little well. He played very well.
If you’re a Niner fan (like me) you’ve heard much talk about Jimmy G. Some people love him and want to see him stay with the team. I’m not one of those. I think (along with many others) Jimmy G is a good Quarterback – unless he’s in a pressure situation. “Pressure situation” has different meanings but in his case, it’s when he’s playing from behind in the second half or deep in his own territory late in a game they’re losing or sometimes, just because it’s a big game. He’s also not great in the red zone, the last 20 yards of field before scoring a Touchdown. I think Jimmy G panics in the pocket under pressure and I think his head coach, Kyle Shanahan, thinks so, too.
People have been questioning some of Shanahan’s play-calling but I think he has had to adjust. Since Jimmy is unlikely to throw a successful pass in the red zone, Shanahan is forced to try to run the ball, which often means playing for field goals. After starter Trey Lance went down with a broken ankle, though, Jimmy was the best choice available. For the record, I think that was true at the time despite what I write about him in these other paragraphs.
I’m also going to acknowledge, the rest of this is based on one game. One. Teams haven’t had a chance to game-plan against Purdy, yet. Purdy might come out and play like…well…me in the next game. That would not be good. I think he won’t though. Purdy looked poised and confident. He hit passes in the red zone – touchdown passes. Yes, he threw an interception and it was kind of a stupid interception – I haven’t forgotten. But every Quarterback in the history of the game throws interceptions. He also threw two Touchdown passes – in the red zone. That’s something we know Jimmy doesn’t do, generally speaking.
Joe Fonzi, a local sports reporter, didn’t show much of Purdy’s post-game interview. I think it’s because Fonzi stole one of Purdy’s lines. When asked what he thought about playing Tom Brady next week, PURDY said, “He’s been playing football longer than I’ve been alive.” (That’s the line Fonzi stole.) THEN Purdy said he thought playing against Brady would be “kind of cool.” That doesn’t sound like some kid out there shaking in his boots. He’s ready to play. He’s looking forward to facing off against Brady.
So, yes, one game, but this kid was very good and I’m looking forward to watching him play next week. I realize ALL of his upcoming opponents are going to try to get him to buckle under the pressure. But then I realized something else. Purdy was the team’s number 3 QB. Some teams don’t even carry a number 3. The number 3’s job, more than anything else, is to run the scout team against the defense in practice. But stop a second and think about what that means.
The Forty-Niners have one of the best defenses in the NFL this year. They may be THE best. They can’t slow down in practice without hurting themselves during regular games so they practice as hard as they’re going to play. So Purdy has been running an offense in practice that consists of non-starters against the team’s starting defense – one of the best defenses in the league. To me? Another way of saying that is to say that Purdy has been practicing against one of the best defenses in the league for months, now. Who can bring more against this kid? He’s had to learn how to pick apart a great defense with a less-than offense – and he’s had to learn to stay alive in the process.
I saw him moving but I also saw him staying calm in the pocket. I saw him roll out and pass the ball and hit his receiver right in the numbers. (It’s very hard to do. The ball tends to drift. In similar situations, Jimmy G tends to throw interceptions or hit the guy in the third row.) I saw him throw short. I saw him throw Touchdowns in the red zone. He threw at least one pass that was dead-on accurate to a guy covered like a blanket and hit the pass perfectly.
Yeah, one game. I know. I’m not ready to anoint him the second coming of Joe Montana. But I’m also not worried about him leading the team like I would normally be with a rookie in that role. I’ll go further. IF he keeps playing like he did against the Dolphins, I suspect that both Jimmy G AND Trey Lance might be taking a hit on the depth chart.
IF he keeps playing like he did against the Dolphins…