Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Behind rookie QB Brock Purdy, 49ers a ‘juggernaut’ entering playoff matchup vs. Seahawks

Jan. 9, 2023 Updated Mon., Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:54 p.m.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy hands the ball to teammate Christian McCaffrey against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 9 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.  (Tribune News Service)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy hands the ball to teammate Christian McCaffrey against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 9 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. (Tribune News Service)
By Adam Jude Seattle Times

Just how good are the San Francisco 49ers right now?

“Shoot, they’ve won 10 in a row, man. They’re frickin’ on fire,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday on his Seattle Sports 710 radio show. “A 10-game run is big time, now. That’s big time in this league. You’ve got to give them all the credit. They’re as healthy, maybe, as they’ve been all year long. It’s a frickin’ juggernaut we’re going into.”

The 49ers (13-4) are a 10.5-point favorite over the Seahawks (9-8) entering their NFC wild-card playoff game, set for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

San Francisco swept all six games against NFC West opponents this season, outscoring the Seahawks 48-20 in their two matchups.

Three things to know about the 49ers this week:

1. The Rise of Mr. Irrelevant

Brock Purdy was the 262nd – and final – pick in the 2022 NFL draft. After opening the season as the third-string quarterback, he was thrust into the starting job in December and has, well, saved the 49ers season.

In five games as the starter, Purdy has thrown 13 touchdown passes, tied for the NFL lead in that stretch. He has thrown two interceptions as the starter and his passer rating of 112 over the past five weeks ranks No. 1 among NFL QBs.

Before Purdy took over, the 49ers averaged 22.6 points per game. Since then, they’re scoring 33.5.

“For a rookie quarterback to come in and play the way that he has, that’s pretty special,” tight end George Kittle told reporters after the 49ers closed out the regular season with a 38-13 victory over Arizona on Sunday. “And I don’t really know anyone else who has played at the level he’s played at.”

Purdy, listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, was 17 for 26 for 217 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers in the 49ers’ 21-13 victory in Seattle on Dec. 15.

2. Fully loaded

As Carroll noted, the 49ers are getting healthier entering the playoffs.

Star receiver Deebo Samuel returned Sunday from an ankle injury , giving the 49ers a full complement of playmakers.

Since being acquired from Carolina in a midseason trade, running back Christian McCaffrey has 10 TDs (six rushing, four receiving).

And Kittle, the veteran tight end, has come alive over the past month, finishing with a career-high 11 TD catches – seven of which have been thrown by Purdy.

“Who do you stop?” Carroll asked Monday. “They’re just so loaded, so much so that the quarterback, a young dude, has come in there and taken it over and done great. … So it’s as hard as it could possibly get.”

3. NFL’s No. 1 defense

The 49ers defense wound up leading the league in scoring (16.3 points per game) and yards (300.6).

During their 10-game win streak, the 49ers have allowed one team (the Raiders in Week 17) to rush for more than 100 yards.

Edge rusher Nick Bosa, meanwhile, led the league in sacks with 18.5, and he’s the front-runner to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

Bosa has been so dominant that coach Kyle Shanahan has lobbied for him as an MVP candidate.

“You think of someone like Lawrence Taylor that makes sense for someone like that to win it. I think it would make sense for someone like Aaron Donald in some of the years that he’s had and you look at Nick, who I think is right in that league right there of those two people that I just mentioned,” Shanahan told reporters last month. “And I think he’s having that type of year, so it depends how the votes go. It always surprises you because of the quarterback situation, but by no means is it not warranted. He’s that good of a player.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.