49ers overreactions: Can Purdy’s breakout force Lance trade? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
After a slow start on Saturday, the 49ers bounced back offensively and defensively in the first round of the NFL playoffs.
Despite their 41-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, there still seems to be some concern among fans.
The 49ers defense has given up too many big plays — even during the team’s current 11-game win streak.
But the offense clearly starts with rookie Brock Purdy at quarterback.
And those topics lead to this edition of 49ers Overreactions:
Still scared to face a good passing team in the playoffs. Offense improves, defense goes in the wrong direction. (FB: Joshua Pereira)
The 49ers recorded a season-high 41 points in their first-round playoff game against the Seahawks.
Meanwhile, the defense holds the door open for some attacking pedestrian teams to score quickly.
The latest example was the Seahawks getting a 50-yard touchdown from Geno Smith to DK Metcalf, who beat Charvarius Ward’s coverage when the pass rush failed to affect Smith with a six-man pressure.
“We don’t panic when we give up a big game,” said 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.
And there is something to be said for that.
But there’s more to be said for not giving up on the big game in the first place.
Niners will sign Brady next year. (FB: Tom Franceschi)
If this statement had come about a month ago, the reaction might have been different.
First, we don’t know if Tom Brady wants to continue his career. Things could go either way after Monday night’s performance in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The 49ers passed Brady on in the 2020 off-season to stay with Jimmy Garoppolo.
And when you see what the 49ers’ quarterback situation looks like now with Brock Purdy playing so well at 23 years old, it seems logical that the 49ers would choose to continue down this path.
Purdy is the 49ers 2023 starter and Lance will be the backup or be traded. (FB: Douglas Fahnestock)
Overreaction? No, no and yes.
We’re not sure where Shanahan gets on this topic.
When recently asked by NBC Sports Bay Area if he had thought about the future of the team’s quarterback position, he said no.
That would make him the only person who hasn’t thought about what the 49ers are going to do for the 2023 season.
At this point, it seems fair to argue that Purdy has shown enough to keep the No. 1 job.
Trey Lance is immensely talented and the 49ers invested heavily to jump to third place in the 2021 NFL Draft to select him.
It would be one thing if the 49ers’ quarterback situation was a weakness. Instead, it’s a force.
Seriously, could anyone do better than Purdy on this current win streak? So that’s not a knock on Lance.
It’s easy to imagine the 49ers staying with Purdy as a starter.
But there’s no point in the team giving up on Lance, who turns 23 in May.
Veteran Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to get a starting opportunity elsewhere in the NFL, which would cost him a return to the club.
And it would actually cost the 49ers a lot more salary headroom to trade Lance than to keep him on the team.
Never say never, but we don’t think the 49ers would even remotely consider giving up Lance at this point.
As we’ve seen this season, it’s not uncommon for a team to turn to its backup quarterback — or even its third-stringer — to save the season.
The 49ers are in great shape heading into next season with Purdy and Lance – however they start on the depth chart.
Shanahan needs a better game plan to start the game. Rookie throwing 19 while clearly nervous is not the answer. (FB: Jeff Christen)
The 49ers averaged 8.3 yards per offensive play in the first half.
Shanahan’s throwing strategy served two purposes: it got Purdy right into the fray; and it helped set up the running game.
Yes, Purdy got off to a shaky start, but he settled down and got into the rhythm in the second half. Perhaps his 19 pass attempts in the first half added to the offense in the second half.
Of course, every game will be a little different. Ultimately, Shanahan aims for a 50-50 run-pass split on offense.
And that’s how it went. The 49ers had 33 running plays and 31 passing plays.
We see no harm in that.
Deommodore Lenoir was the best cornerback of both teams on Sunday. (FB: Angelo Macugay III)
Think about it, a year ago the 49ers went into the playoffs with Emmanuel Moseley and Ambry Thomas as starting cornerbacks.
Moseley’s season came to a sad end in week 5 with a torn cruciate ligament. That’s when the 49ers called on Deommodore Lenoir, who beat Thomas for a spot higher on the depth chart.
Lenoir, a sophomore player, has really stepped up.
It’s easy to watch the 49ers defense and locate Lenoir since the player opposing the offense will try to attack.
And yes, he has given up some plays in his 14 starts.
But he jumped at the opportunity in his first playoff game after being inactive as a rookie for all three postseason games last season.
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Lenoir devised an interception. He gave up only two completions for 16 yards on the four passes thrown his way. He also did his job in walk support with five tackles.
Of course, Charvarius Ward, the cornerback on the other side, often pulled off the harder assignment of covering DK Metcalf.
But there’s no denying that Lenoir, on the other hand, held his own with the best game of his short career.
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