The San Francisco 49ers need to take an impromptu class

 – Gudstory

The San Francisco 49ers need to take an impromptu class – Gudstory

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When they roll, the San Francisco 49ers look like they will never lose again. Until Monday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Niners were undefeated this season when Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffery, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are healthy. And it looked as if that trend might continue — at least for a second — because Lamar Jackson/back Judge committed the first foul, and Kyle Shanahan’s offense totaled 126 yards on 15 plays on their first possessions.

The initial drive was capped by a Purdy interception in the Raven end zone, but the second led to a three-pointer, and it’s not as if the Niners couldn’t move the ball. They were drowned out by turnovers and Murphy’s Law, the latter of which proved difficult for Shanahan to overcome.

There were telling statistics shown during the MNF broadcast, which I’m sure you saw because ESPN tends to overwhelm viewers with their stats and information section. Since 2017, San Francisco is now 0-38 when trailing by eight or more points in the fourth quarter. This is a bit misleading because oftentimes if you’re down by eight or more after 45 minutes, it’s because you’re outmatched, or you can’t get away from the lead.

That’s what Purdy did on Monday, throwing four interceptions. While it could be argued that two or three picks weren’t his fault, credit the Ravens for harassing the QB all night, making plays and capitalizing on mistakes. I can’t say whether Purdy was outmatched, or just mistake-prone — it was likely a combination of both — but there is a certain piece of equipment that no quarterback during Shanahan’s tenure had access to.

My hypothesis as to why Niner GM John Lynch and his head coach like Trey Lance is that he has physical tools beyond Jimmy Garapolo. The organization believes the coach and team are so profoundly talented that having a game manager under center is a crime. While Purdy is more of a center fielder in the system, he doesn’t have the Get Out of Jail Free arm or the Go-Go Gadget legs.

He can improvise a little, and his timing and sense of situation are impressive; There was a botched play on a screen in the second half that Purdy completed for McCaffrey. The running back cut down the back of a d-lineman who sniffed a screen, and Purdy hit him with a pass that stunned NFL prospects.

However, Jackson evaded the pass rush more than his counterpart and made off-script plays look like they were rehearsed. It turns out Baltimore practices those plays, but I’d be interested to see how many scramble drills the 49ers run during the week. Obviously, it’s unfair to compare any quarterback to one of the most elusive QBs to ever do so.

Meanwhile, that’s what the pundits were doing before they entered the game. There were two highly anticipated races in the Christmas Finals: the first for the team’s single-seed conference, and the second for the league’s MVP. (There was technically a third race—the Can-Niner corgi race in the half—which, unfortunately, I won’t get into.)

By Monday, Purdy was one of the contenders in the MVP race. Then he shared the field with Jackson, and anyone who watched could tell you that one quarterback was not like the other. (Side note: If the NFL were still awarding top players to running backs, McCaffery would still be alive.)

So much of what San Francisco does works that they rarely have to press the issue. Like his father Mike, Kyle has a talent for playing. It’s one of those skills that can’t be taught. Some coaches feel that way and there’s no arguing against the piles of tape coming out of the Bay Area.

The problem is that you cannot write all four quadrants. The execution will fail or the defense will guess correctly, and against the best teams, the quarterback is responsible for building the puzzle quickly. What sets Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Jackson and other elite QBs apart from the level below is that they can find a way when things aren’t going well.

There’s only so much a coach can do, and for the Niners, they need Brock Purdy to solve the problem when Shanahan’s play-calling can’t.

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