Three Takeaways from the 49ers’ Week 14 Win over the Bucs
It was a week to remember if you’re a San Francisco 49ers fan, taking down Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7 at Levi’s Stadium.
In the highly-anticipated debut for rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, he showed out in a big way, sparking the 49ers’ offense to four first-half scores Sunday. On defense the 49ers took care of business, getting another shutout in the first half of Week 14. If it wasn’t for a deflected TD catch, the Bucs would have gone home with a goose egg on the scoreboard.
An all-around great performance that had Santa Clara rocking, here are a few takeaways from the action.
Purdy Darn Good
Turning into a national story this past week, no one really knew what to expect for the rookie quarterback’s first-ever NFL start. He delivered and then some for San Francisco.
Brock Purdy outplayed Tom Brady, simple as that. The last pick in the 2022 NFL draft led his team to four touchdowns against the Buccaneers’ good defensive unit in the first half alone. For reference, Tampa Bay has only allowed one other team to score 30 0r more points of them this season. The other team: The Kansas City Chiefs.
Purdy was the catalyst for the 49ers’ spark Sunday, throwing for 185 yards, three total touchdowns and no interceptions in his starting debut. He also finished with a 134 passer rating, the highest of any QB in Week 14.
His most impressive score came on the go-route to Christian McCaffrey, peppering a ball with a touch from 27 yards out along the sideline for the toe-tap TD.
1. This is what Kyle Shanahan means when he says "see it and rip it." Can't see it from this angle, but as soon as the corner hesitates, Purdy throws a beautiful ball to CMC for the TD.
2. Knowing you're going to get rocked and still having the balls to deliver a strike >>> pic.twitter.com/iMvV7vPZ14
— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) December 12, 2022
His most impressive play athletically came at the beginning of the next drive, evading a free pass rusher before throwing a beautiful dime to wide receiver Deebo Samuel off one leg for a gain of 18 yards. It was a group effort for sure, but the 49ers, and fans alike, couldn’t have asked for more from the rookie in Week 14.
“I think he did an awesome job,” Kyle Shanahan said postgame Sunday. “I think all you guys saw that, but he made a ton of plays. Made the plays that were there, made some plays that weren’t there. He did a great job in the pocket. Had one mistake there, he was fortunate that we got that one back. He didn’t hesitate. I think he threw a touchdown the next play, which was really cool, but it’s really impressive how he played and I thought it was similar to the week before.”
“I had a lot of confidence in him, but obviously it’s the NFL and you gotta go perform and he did that pretty darn good,” defensive end Nick Bosa said about Purdy.
The QB did suffer an oblique injury on the second drive of the game, but the injury is considered minor and he should be “ready to roll” against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday night.
Dre Greenlaw is a Pro Bowl Linebacker
Fifteen tackles, that’s the stat that sticks out this week for 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw. A whopping 15 tackles against the Bucs.
Greenlaw was superb for the Red & Gold once again, running all over the field like a warden during a prison break. He also accomplished a personal goal Sunday, picking off Tom Brady in the third quarter. Talking about it all week, Greenlaw manifested the play into fruition, bobbling the ball up in the air before securing the INT.
After the game, the 49er went over to Brady and asked him to sign the ball, a surreal moment for him and Fred Warner.
After the 35-7 loss to the #49ers, Tom Brady stayed around to talk with the Niners defenders and signed Dre Greenlaw's ball, the one he picked him off with.
“Please, could you sign the ball?”, “You’re the greatest ever. It’s an honor for us, for real."pic.twitter.com/gkhMfSf56V
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 12, 2022
“Yes. I went like a little fan girl,” Greenlaw told the media with a chuckle. “I tried to sooth him up, make him feel better. So like, ‘man, yes, you are the greatest ever’, all that good stuff. But he is and he was like, ‘yes, I appreciate it, man’. Good job and stuff. And I was like, ‘man, you don’t even have to sign the balls’, I just knew he looked like he was going through a lot, and then [San Francisco 49ers LB] Fred [Warner] comes over there. Fred’s like, ‘you get the balls signed?’ And I’m just like, yes, ‘man, now you have to sign these balls’. And he signed them, so it was cool, man. No doubt.”
All the fangirling aside, Greenlaw and the defense earned those autographs, holding the GOAT of QBs to seven points in a huge spot.
Week 14 marked the fourth time this season the linebacker has had more than 10 combined tackles in a contest, now above 100 tackles on the season for the first time in his career. A remarkable achievement through a full 17-game season, and even more amazing that there is still four games to go.
“I’m just going to keep getting better,” Greenlaw told Sactown Sports Sunday. “Good or bad, you know, whatever the case may be. Just go into next offseason and see what I got to work on and just keep getting better. Keep getting better. And just stacking on days and eventually you’ll see a breakthrough out of it.”
Only playing 12 games so far this season, a first Pro Bowl appearance may be in the cards for Greenlaw. One that is long overdue according to his teammates.
“The way people talk about me, that’s how they need to talk about him,” Warner said about his counterpart.
Still, at the top of the league in most defensive metrics, this DeMeco Ryans-led defense is for real and can win games on its own.
CMC has Arrived
When the 49ers made the big deadline deal to acquire running back Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers, some were skeptical. Trading four future picks for an oft-injured ballcarrier could have been disastrous for San Francisco.
Instead, McCaffrey has reintroduced himself to the football world.
The Stanford alum had his most efficient game for the Red & Gold Sunday against the Bucs, taking 14 carries for 119 yards and one rushing TD. That’s 8.5 yards per attempt by the way. He also contributed in the passing game, catching two balls for 34 yards and one receiving score as well. His contributions make up a grand total of 153 yards from scrimmage in Week 14, close to half of the 49ers’ 322 net yards in the whole game.
The point being, CMC is a one-man wrecking crew and shredded the Buccaneers by himself. Granted, defensive tackle Vita Vet did exit the game early due to injury, but still, this is what the 49ers hoped the star RB would look like once he figured out the offense.
This run from 49ers Christian McCaffrey 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/BG9FsaclC7
— Brad (@Graham_SFN) December 11, 2022
“It was Brock Purdy’s day, yes, but Christian McCaffrey was absolutely sensational, too. With Deebo Samuel now out, [McCaffrey] is going to have to do even more for the 49ers. Bring it on. He’s been waiting for this moment his entire NFL career,” Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager said Monday morning.
One more note: CMC now has 11 career games with a rushing and receiving touchdown. That’s the same amount as Cleveland Browns’ Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown.
So yeah, bring on the workload for the Stanford alum.