49ers’ Brock Purdy on NFC title game: ‘This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’

SANTA CLARA — Brock Purdy plans on sticking to his simplistic routine in the final 48 hours before the NFC Championship Game.

The 49ers’ quarterback knows, however, things won’t be so simple amid Sunday’s high-stakes aura and the frenzied looks against the Detroit Lions’ defense.

“For this NFC Championship Game, I want to keep it simple, not blow it out of proportion in my mind, but at the same time have some juice because, man, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Purdy said. “You have to be excited about that more than anything.”

This is Purdy’s second straight NFC Championship Game start, but last year’s quickly was voided by his first-series elbow injury as the host Philadelphia Eagles pulled away for a 31-7 rout.

Purdy rebounded from March’s elbow-ligament repair to throw for more yards in a season (4,280) by any quarterback in the 49ers’ prestigious history, all en route to the NFC’s No. 1 seed, his first Pro Bowl selection and a spot among the AP NFL MVP’s five finalists.

What comes next form him and the 49ers (12-5) are the No. 3-seeded Lions (12-5) in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Levi’s Stadium. Winner gets the George Halas Trophy and a spot in Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas on Feb. 11.

Here are 11 talking points from Purdy’s press conference following Friday’s practice:

On the Lions’ defensive pass rush and blitzes:

“They do a good job of holding it and disguising it. There a lot of looks where it looks like base coverage, and all of a sudden they’re brining guys from different directions. They have certain coverages behind their blitzes. They do a good job of bringing different guys, sort of hold ‘their water’ and not show it.

“Across the year other teams will have tips and clues. These guys do a good job switching it up to make it harder on the quarterback to recognize.

“We usually go in having a good plan. If we’re on it, it’s like a high risk, high reward for both sides. If we’re ready and have a good plan, all it takes is a 5-yard throw to turn it into a big gain because they’re a couple of guys short (in coverage).

“We’ve gone into games where defenses blitz a lot and we have a good plan for it. It’s about receivers and myself being on top of it, and when they give us those opportunities, we have to be ready for it.”

On being an NFL MVP finalist:

“I’ve just been taking it one day at a time since last year when I stepped into the role. For me, it’s never been about all the hype and the glory. It’s been about, ‘How can I help this team win?’ I have a really good squad around me and helped me get to where I’m at and get better. Here we are, second year in a row in the NFC Championship, and I’m very thankful for it, but obviously we have a bigger goal in mind and we have to handle business this Sunday.”

On Deebo Samuel getting cleared to play from Saturday’s shoulder bruise:

“It’s huge for us. Deebo is a game-changer and is one of the best in the NFL at what he does. For him to be able to play, all of us are like, ‘Alright, Deebo brings some juice and energy, and we have his back.’ Obviously seeing him run around at practice and look good, for us, it’s, ‘Alright, it’s on.’ We’re excited for it.”

On what he took away from Saturday’s game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes:

“The season, it’s on the line. That was probably the last drive we were going to have in that game. So all of us, when you’re watching the film, you can tell everyone is on top of their stuff, everyone is detailed in every move, from the O-line in their past sets to receivers running to their landmarks and getting to where they need to be, and obviously making smart decisions and not forcing anything. You can just tell there was a lot on the line and we really played our best ball in that moment.

“It was encouraging watching for all of us. We have to keep moving and carry that into this game.”

On when to throw check-down passes:

“There are times where you’re aggressive and you can there’s a window there to make a play. In that moment, every decision is on the line here, go through what the coaches have taught all the quarterbacks, be smart. Not that you’re going to be timid and conservative, but if the defense is not running what we’re looking for, then obviously take the checkdown.

“During the (last) game, I was looking for a big play, periodically. Definitely was playing with such conviction on that last drive. It obviously went well.”

On what he learned about himself last game:

“For me, it’s football, it’s 11-on-11, I have dudes around me that are really good and are going to do their job well. I have to do my job, let’s execute and put a drive together. Keeping it simple, in a sense, is what I took away from it.”

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On what he’ll do in the next 48 hours:

“Really this whole year, in terms of going through my process on a Friday night, Saturday morning come here for walk-through, Saturday continue to study plays. At the same time, keep it simple. All year, I’ve had a process how I handle my stuff and get ready for a game. I try not to overcomplicate things. I’m going to go into this game like I have all year. I’m excited for it. … I have a routine but I wouldn’t say I’m superstitious.”

On talking with coach Kyle Shanahan about play-calling:

“Throughout the week, he does a really good job with explaining why he’s calling plays and what we’re trying to attack. He’s always asking us how we’re feeling about plays and if we’re confident in running it. He does a good job with that. Honestly when he’s asking me what I’m thinking in certain situations, I’ll tell him exactly what I was thinking in the game and moving forward how I’m feeling about stuff. We’re on the same page with a lot of things, and he does a good job to make sure we’re all comfortable with running what he’s calling; not just the quarterbacks but players in general. We all want to play for him. He does a great job staying on the same level with us and explaining what we’re attacking and trying to do. He’s one of the best in the league at doing that and we’ve seen it for a while.”

On playing four years at Iowa State:

“It was good to play four years of college ball and go play in different environments and stages and levels of the game being at a higher level. I took a lot away from those kind of games. It sort of built me into who I am. Just in terms of finding out what I do good and how I can be better. I definitely remember high-stakes games and how I performed. I can go back to those experiences and remember what I should have done better or what I did well.

“For this NFC Championship Game, I want to keep it simple, not blow it out of proportion in my mind, but at the same time have some juice because, man, this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. You have to be excited about that more than anything.”

Do you know how much confidence your teammates have in you?

“I feel all year they’ve been the same guys in the locker room. They’ve believed in me since I stepped in since last year. Throughout the year, I’ve grown and we’ve all grown together. I’m definitely blessed to have these guys in the locker room with me and definitely have my back, through the good and bad. We’ve been through some stuff this year. It hasn’t all been pretty. There’s been some good times, there’s been some tough times, but through it all, man, these guys have continued to have my back and show love and we go to war together. I’m very thankful for them.”

On fellow Iowa State product David Montgomery, the Detroit Lions starting running back?

“David is the kind of guy that doesn’t go down easily. He’s always moving his feet, explosive, quick cuts. This week I haven’t really been able to talk to my defense about that. They’ve seen him a lot, just the last couple of years when he was in Chicago, so they know who he is. I have nothing but love and respect for David and what he’s done. He’s tough to get to. He’s mentally strong, tough, physical. It’s going to be a challenge to go against him.”



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