Seahawks scheming to disrupt Purdy's veteran-like composure originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Rookie Brock Purdy has passed every test thrown his way, but the 49ers quarterback faces the highest stakes of his career Saturday when the Seattle Seahawks visit Levi's Stadium during Super Wild Card Weekend.
Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt plans to challenge Mr. Irrelevant. But first, Hurtt admitted what has impressed him about the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month's tape five weeks into his tenure as the 49ers' starter under center.
"His composure," Hurtt said Wednesday. "For a guy that’s a rookie, and they make the big deal about where he was drafted and whatnot; that’s why the draft stuff is always an inexact science.
"The guy is highly composed. I’ve never seen him get fazed or rattled. He’s cool and collected in the pocket. And obviously, just knowing he can rely on the run game, rely on the players around him; he’s been executing at a high level since he got in there."
Praise aside, Hurtt and the Seahawks plan to make Purdy uncomfortable in the bright postseason lights.
"First and foremost, you’ve got to stop them from running the football," Hurtt said. "If they can stay balanced and 50 [percent running plays], 50 [percent passing plays], they can keep him in the comfort zone. You want to try to create ways to make them one-dimensional."
Seattle's rushing defense has been its weakness this season. San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey gashed the Seahawks' defense -- which ranks third-worst in the NFL against the run -- for 108 rushing yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts in the 49ers' 21-13 victory in Week 15.
"You just have to go into the game taking away something," Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu said Wednesday. "For us, it’s going to be the run game. That’s still been our Achilles heel."
Three of the 49ers' four losses this season occurred when the offense was held under 102 rushing yards. But since McCaffrey started his first game in a 49ers uniform Oct. 30, the 49ers have racked up at least 153 rushing yards in seven of 10 games. And, of course, have won all 10.
The Seahawks' rushing defense has its flaws, but their pass rush is one of the NFL's best. The Seahawks compiled the seventh-most sacks this season in a total team effort led by Nwosu and linebacker Darrell Taylor with 9.5 apiece.
"Make them one-dimensional," Nwosu said. "As long as we don’t allow them to run the ball, I feel like we can rush anybody. ... We’ve got guys on the back end that can cover. If we can eliminate the run, we can get after them."
Stopping the run to get to the rookie Purdy is a solid plan. But with weapons like McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel lining up behind Purdy in the backfield -- not to mention coach Kyle Shanahan's vaunted run-blocking schemes -- that's a task easier said than done.