By Leonardo Ramirez
The 49ers and Cowboys rivalry has come back to life in back-to-back postseason matchups and their ninth overall postseason matchup with each other. Going into the game, The Cowboys and The 49ers were expected to put up big numbers on the scoreboard going into the Divisional round matchup. The 49er’s defense was dominant in all forces, holding the cowboys to only 12 points.
Dan Quinn and the Cowboy’s defense came into the game with a strong game plan. The Cowboy’s speed and pressure from the front line alone were far more effective than I initially expected. The 49ers weren’t exactly moving the Dallas defense as much as they wanted to, Dallas’s defensive line was viciously forcing pressure in what felt like every offensive snap for the Niners. Give Dallas’s defense some credit. The speed of this defense presented a concerning amount of problems for the offensive line.
Purdy got off to a slow start as the Dallas defense forced multiple three-and-outs on the Niners initial drives. The Dallas pass rush proved effective as Micah and the marauders were able to speed up the third-string quarterback’s pace. Purdy had pressure in his face all game as the defense had their way with the Niners offensive line. But Purdy’s calm decision-making prevailed as he never threw an interception and moved the Niners down the field, slowly but surely. He finished the game by completing 19/29 pass attempts for 214 yards, no touchdowns, and most importantly, no picks.
Purdy outperformed Dak Prescott by simply doing what Prescott is incapable of doing, playing a clean game. Prescott’s two interceptions either took points off the board for Dallas or helped put points up for the Niners. Prescott finished the game with two interceptions and one touchdown.
Like I’ve said many times before, Purdy’s outstanding ability to avoid negative plays whilst facing heavy pressure is something that we’ve been seeing more and more from the rookie. But most importantly, Purdy displayed his pocket presence down the stretch in a meaningful game, a major component of being a successful starting quarterback in the NFL.
I understand why people say that Purdy’s success has more to do with the Shanahan-based offense and the loaded roaster, no one can deny that the weapons make his job easier. But at the same time, Purdy’s quarterback play is exceptionally high. He is above average when it comes to scrambling, making quick decisions, and throwing on the run.
The Shanahan offense is rooted in complex run schemes and dependent on moving the ball via the ground. So in a game where stud running back Christian McCaffrey was held to 35 yards, Purdy proved that he is more than a system quarterback. We have to stop pretending that it’s normal for rookie QBs (let alone a Mr. irrelevant) to be doing what he’s been doing.
The 49ers were able to notch another big-time playoff win in their ongoing rivalry record. The quarterback that was able to play a clean game was going to be the winner of this game. The time of possession is the vital turning point of the whole game. Dallas also had twice the amount of penalties as the Niners and 2/1 turnover difference. Ultimately, the game came down to who played the cleaner game, the Niners were that team.
Looking back to last Saturday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, the Eagles showed a variety of schemes, from stunts and twists. The Eagles brought a variety of pressures weather it was the zone blitz pressure by Chauncey Gardner to force the pick by James Bradberry, a cover 0 look or a four to five man front with stunts and twist. In terms of looks and pressures I believe they put a variety of them on tape last week against The Giants for Purdy.
The Eagles did everything you could ask for a team coming off of a bye week, truly a dominant performance. The Eagles front four who lead the league in sacks this season with 70, came at them recording 5 sacks. They particularly wanted to go in to the first half looking as sharp as possible, which meant coordinated drives, getting points on the board and preventing long plays and drives. They checked all the boxes in that case.
Just looking at what the Eagles defense threw at Daniel Jones with the variety of coverages and different pressure looks and sim pressures, that same process can almost certainly carry over to Brock Purdy going into Philly’s hostile environment. I can only imagine the game starting off slow for Purdy, as we’ve seen in the past two games. Although, Purdy has been able to survive all these creatives pressures and defensive schemes by using his legs to extend the plays.
As the postseason progresses, the teams and the tests get bigger and bigger. There is just an endless of X’s and O’s that will play deciding roles going into the matchup between these two dominant teams.