49ers overreactions: Will Brock Purdy wilt under NFL playoff pressure?

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49ers overreactions: Will Purdy wilt under playoff pressure? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

It has already been a wild ride for the 49ers from the offseason to the end of the regular season.

Now, the stakes are exponentially higher.

The 49ers open the NFL playoffs not with Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback . . . but with Brock Purdy, the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

And Purdy has given every 49ers fan and teammate the faith that they can advance through the postseason, not in spite of him, but because of him.

This is 49ers Overreactions ...

Brock Purdy will wilt under the pressure of the playoffs (FB: Robert Schanke)

Overreaction? Yes.

Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy will suit up for his first NFL postseason game on Saturday.

It is difficult to imagine, based on what we’ve seen from him to this point, that he will be overwhelmed. Head coach Kyle Shanahan agrees. Purdy has been unflappable since taking over as the starting quarterback on Dec. 4 after Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a fractured foot.

Purdy has played well, no question.

But it does not look as if he is doing anything that cannot be repeated over and over. Shanahan appears to have more trust in Purdy than he’s had in any other quarterback since he’s been with the 49ers. Purdy has earned that trust with his knowledge of the system, coolness under pressure and ability to make quick decisions and accurate throws. He does not try to do too much, and he realizes he has a large cast of playmakers who can do wonders with the ball in their hands.

Sure, Purdy might make a mistake or two along the way. (It would be wild if he didn’t.) However, he seems to be made of the right stuff and wilting under the pressure does not seem to be in his DNA.

The offense, not the defense, is the unit that will carry us as far as we go in the playoffs (FB: Ryan Flaherty)

Overreaction? No.

The defense carried the 49ers through the first 11 games of the season while everyone labeled the team’s offense as underachievers. Before Purdy took over as the team’s quarterback, the offense accounted for only 22 points per game. Over the past six games, the 49ers’ offense has turned it on and showed it can keep up with a 33-point scoring average.

The 49ers’ offense is in much better shape heading into this postseason than it was in 2019 and last season with a large number of players capable of taking over a game. So while the 49ers expect their defense to come up big, the offense appears more capable of holding up its end of the bargain this postseason.

The secondary is a liability that will cost the 49ers in the playoffs. Maybe as soon as this weekend (FB: Jonathan Pitts)

Overreaction? Yes.

While the 49ers have given up some big plays in the passing game, it also goes to show how the rush and coverage must work together.

The 49ers must keep things buttoned down on the back end with their secondary on the same page. The 49ers had the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL in both yards allowed and points allowed. The 49ers were tied for the NFL lead this season with 20 interceptions.

So the defensive backfield must have done plenty of things right, too.

Cornerback Charvarius Ward is playing at a high level. And there are few concerns about veteran safety Tashaun Gipson and nickel back Jimmie Ward. The two youngest players in the secondary will be tested: safety Talanoa Hufanga and cornerback Deommodore Lenoir. No question about it.

But if Nick Bosa and the rest of the 49ers’ pass-rushers get to the quarterback, the defensive backfield will be just fine.

And if the pass rush does not apply pressure and big plays are surrendered, it won’t be entirely the secondary’s fault.

Our losses this year look terrible in retrospect and cost us what could’ve been a very attainable 1 seed and bye. Losses to the lowly Bears/Broncos/Falcons could end up costing us (FB: Elden Nielson)

Overreaction? No … and yes.

The 49ers’ losses to the aforementioned teams are inexplicable. Those were some bad teams that beat the 49ers.

You can look at it one way and say that the 49ers would be the No. 1 seed if they’d won just one of those games. But there’s another way to look at it, too. If the 49ers had won those games, would they have given up all that draft capital in order to acquire Christian McCaffrey in a trade with the Carolina Panthers?

The 49ers gave up second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-round selections in order to get McCaffrey. Would they have gone all-in if everything was going smoothly?

That’s a question even GM John Lynch could not fully answer when NBC Sports Bay Area asked him that question a while back.

So we here at 49ers Overreactions believe the reason the 49ers are set up so well entering the postseason is because of those early season losses.

If the 49ers do not win the Super Bowl, this season was a failure (FB: David Corral)

Overreaction? TBD.

This is something everyone would have to answer for themselves.

The 49ers have certainly placed themselves into Super Bowl contention with the way they’ve played over the second half of the season. So, yes, the team would be disappointed if they do not win the Super Bowl. But, as you know, only one team can win the Super Bowl.

The 49ers, Kansas City, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Philadelphia are all in that same all-or-nothing mentalities as the playoffs begin. In other words, there will be a lot of disappointed teams at the end of Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12.

RELATED: Why Ward could be 49ers' most valuable defensive back

Regardless of how this turns out, the 49ers took us on an amazing ride during the regular season. And, if nothing else, this season might have produced the team’s quarterback of the future. At this point, we do not know.

So while we understand the disappointment from the fan base if the 49ers do not realize their goal, you cannot deny you were entertained along the way.

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