49ers’ Brock Purdy Silences Critics in Surprising Way in NFC Championship

So what will they say about the San Francisco 49ers’ Brock Purdy now?

On Sunday in the NFC Championship game, after a brutal first half in which he posted a passer rating of 39.1 and threw for 95 yards and an interception, Purdy stole the show in the second half against the Lions, leading a ferocious 49ers comeback from a 24-7 halftime deficit with 27 second-half points to lead a 34-31 win that sends the 49ers into the Super Bowl against the Chiefs.

After having been the subject of derision and scorn by many an NFL pundit over the past week following some of his inconsistency and struggles in the divisional round win over the Packers, Purdy earned a heap of redemption.

Not only that, but he did so in a way that should only further infuriate the legion of Purdy-bashers that were loudly complaining that the 49ers quarterback was the product of the Kyle Shanahan system and little else: Purdy daggered the Lions not with safe passes or checkdowns, but with his feet.

BROCK PURDY SCRAMBLE!!! pic.twitter.com/BnLAujcEcl

— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) January 29, 2024

The most damaging run from Purdy came with 4:42 to play in the fourth quarter and the 49ers clinging to a tenuous, 27-24 lead over the Lions.  The 49ers had the ball on a third-and-4 at the Lions 49-yard line, and Purdy was in the shotgun. The Lions had strong coverage and Purdy decided to run. He had to squeeze through an attempted Aidan Hutchison tackle to find enough daylight for a 21-yard scramble to the Detroit 28-yard line.

The run demoralized the Lions defense and set up runs by Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell that led to a backbreaking touchdown and a 34-24 lead.

49ers QB Brock Purdy Bounces Back From Rough 1st Half

In all, Purdy bounced back from the miserable first half to put up 267 yards of passing on 20-for-31. He had the interception in the first half, but threw a touchdown in the second half.

Purdy had 5 total runs on the night, for 48 yards, and an average of 9.6 yards per carry. It was the second-most rushing yardage of the season for Purdy.

He also had some good fortune, as Purdy completed an amazing pass to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk with 6:30 to go in the third quarter, on a pass that ricocheted off the helmet of cornerback Kindle Vindor before Aiyuk somehow caught it.

When the final buzzer sounded, Purdy pumped his fist wildly toward the home crowd in Santa Clara and celebrated with teammates. Interviewed after the game by former NFL great Michael Strahan, Purdy gave credit to the defense.

“For us it’s a team sport. We knew we had a half left,” Purdy said. “Defense did a job, the boys on offense took care of business and coach called a great game. We had the faithful behind us the whole way.”

He had done what so many said he could not do — lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

One Major Critic Eats Crow After NFC Championship

Fittingly, one of Purdy’s most outspoken critics from the past week was former NFL player Ryan Clark, who lobbed especially pointed criticism at Purdy when he said:

“The single hardest thing I had to do this year was act like Brock Purdy deserved to be in the conversation with (other great quarterbacks). Because he was playing extremely well and operating in that offense and distributing the ball to George Kittle and Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, we had to continue to include him in conversations with Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. Those things are not alike.

“Brock Purdy is a fine player, Brock Purdy can operate in Kyle Shanahan’s offense at an extremely efficient level. Brock Purdy doesn’t raise the level of play of anyone around him.”

Give him credit, though, Clark took to Twitter/X to admit his error.

Wrote Clark: “Brock Purdy did his thing!! No hate at all. Dude put the squad on his back. Won’t hear nothing but good from me. Sometimes you just gotta show a mother effer!!”

Brock Purdy did his thing!! No hate at all. Dude put the squad on his back. Won’t hear nothing but good from me. Sometimes you just gotta show a mother effer!! pic.twitter.com/PtDNfX4kSo

— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) January 29, 2024

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