49ers overreactions: Could Purdy’s breakout force Lance trade? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
After a slow start on Saturday, the 49ers picked it up 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 the fan base.
The 49ers’ defense has surrendered too many big plays — even during the team’s current 11-game win streak.
But the offense clearly is picking things up with rookie Brock Purdy at quarterback.
And those topics lead off this edition of 49ers Overreactions:
Still scared to face a good passing team in the playoffs. Offense improving, defense trending in the wrong direction. (FB: Joshua Pereira)
The 49ers put up a season-high 41 points in their first-round playoff game against the Seahawks.
Meanwhile, the defense is keeping the door open for some pedestrian offensive teams to make quick-strike scores.
The latest example was the Seahawks getting a 50-yard touchdown from Geno Smith to DK Metcalf, who beat the coverage of Charvarius Ward when the pass rush failed to affect Smith on a six-man pressure.
“We don’t freak out when we give up a big play,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.
And there is something to be said for that.
But there is more to be said for not giving up the big play in the first place.
Niners will sign Brady next year. (FB: Tom Franceschi)
If this statement had come a month or so ago, the reaction might have been different.
First off, we don’t know if Tom Brady will wish to continue his career. After the performance Monday night in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys, it can go either way.
The 49ers passed on Brady in the 2020 offseason in order to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo.
And seeing how the 49ers’ quarterback situation looks now with Brock Purdy playing so well at the age of 23, it seems logical the 49ers would choose to continue to head down this road.
Purdy is the 49ers 2023 starter and Lance will be the backup or traded. (FB: Douglas Fahnestock)
Overreaction? No, no and yes.
We do not know for sure where Shanahan comes down on this topic.
When NBC Sports Bay Area asked him recently if he has thought about the future of the team’s quarterback position, he said he had not.
That would make him the only person who has not considered what the 49ers will do for the 2023 season.
At this point, it seems reasonable to assert that Purdy has shown enough to warrant holding onto the No. 1 job.
Trey Lance is immensely talented, and the 49ers invested a lot to jump up to No. 3 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 strength.
Seriously, could anyone be doing any better than Purdy during this current win streak? So that’s no knock on Lance.
It is easy to envision the 49ers sticking with Purdy as the starter.
But it does not make sense for the team to give up on Lance, who turns 23 in May.
Veteran Jimmy Garoppolo likely will get a starting opportunity elsewhere in the NFL, which would price him out of a return to the club.
And it actually would cost the 49ers a lot more salary-cap space to trade Lance than to keep him on the team.
Never say never, but we do not think the 49ers would even remotely consider giving up on Lance at this point.
As we saw this season, it is not out of the ordinary for a team to turn to its backup quarterback — or even its third-stringer — to save the season.
The 49ers are in good shape heading into next season with Purdy and Lance — however they might start out on the depth chart.
Shanahan needs a better game plan to start the game. Rookie throwing 19 times when he’s obviously nervous isn’t the answer. (FB: Jeff Christen)
The 49ers averaged 8.3 yards per offensive play in the first half.
Shanahan’s strategy to come out throwing served two purposes: It got Purdy into the fray right away; and it helped set up the running game.
Yes, Purdy got off to a bit of a shaky start, but he settled down and got into a rhythm in the second half. Perhaps, his 19 pass attempts in the first half contributed to the second-half onslaught.
Each game is going to be a little different, of course. Ultimately, Shanahan strives for a 50-50 run-pass split on offense.
And that’s the way it worked out, too. The 49ers had 33 running plays and 31 pass plays.
We see no fault in that.
Deommodore Lenoir was the best cornerback of either teams on Sunday. (FB: Angelo Macugay III)
Just think, a year ago the 49ers entered the playoffs with Emmanuel Moseley and Ambry Thomas as the starting cornerbacks.
Moseley’s season came to a sad conclusion in Week 5 with a torn ACL. That’s when the 49ers called on Deommodore Lenoir, who beat out Thomas for a spot higher up the depth chart.
Lenoir, a second-year player, really has stepped up.
It is easy to look at the 49ers’ defense and pinpoint Lenoir as the player opposing offenses will try to attack.
And, yes, he’s given up some plays in coverage in his 14 starts.
But he rose to the occasion in his first playoff game after being inactive for all three postseason games as a rookie last season.
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Lenoir came up with an interception. He gave up just two completions for 16 yards on the four passes thrown his way. He also did his job in run support with five tackles.
Of course, Charvarius Ward, the cornerback on the other side, often drew the more difficult assignment of covering DK Metcalf.
But there is no denying Lenoir held up strong on the other side with the best game of his short career.