49ers hoping to reverse recent trend of playoff game leads slipping away
SANTA CLARA -- The disappoint and frustration of late playoff game meltdowns lingers and weighs heavily on the minds of San Francisco 49er fans.
Take the Super Bowl against Kansas City following the 2019 season. The 49ers became the third team in Super Bowl history to cough up a 10-point lead in the second half and lost to the Chiefs. Or last season's NFC title game, when a 17-7 lead unraveled because of a dropped interception, a conservative fourth-down call and an interception on the final drive. Winner, Rams.
Another blown opportunity at a championship that's hard to forget.
"As you go back to last year, we were a couple of plays away from making it to the Super Bowl again," wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. "What's it really going to take for us to get there? We just have to minimize the mistakes and everybody has to be on their assignments."
The 49ers say they're ready this time. They have won 12 straight games, including seven in a row since rookie Brock Purdy, the last player taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, took over at quarterback after Jimmy Garoppolo was injured.
Purdy has no memory of the Super Bowl collapse. He played no role in the debacle against the Rams.
He just knows how to win.
"He has a natural ability to play the position and that's why he's fun to coach because when he does make mistakes and do things, he can see it, he can know why, we can see it and we can all understand it," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.
Purdy has already exceeded the performances of almost all rookie QBs in the postseason. He became the first rookie to account for four TDs in a playoff game in a wild-card win over Seattle when his 332 yards passing were the most for a rookie in his first playoff start since Sammy Baugh threw for 335 in the NFL title game in 1937 to lead Washington past Chicago.
He wasn't nearly as productive last week against Dallas' tougher defense, throwing for 214 yards with no TDs. But he once again protected the ball with no turnovers, giving him consecutive playoff games with at least 200 yards and no turnovers. No other rookie has done that even once.
"He's been unbelievable with that," Shanahan said. "I think that's the number one thing he's done and to be able to be as good with the ball as he has while still making a number of the plays that he has that's definitely the thing I've been most impressed with."
Purdy has pulled off many impressive feats since taking over with his ability to extend plays adding a new element to a dynamic San Francisco offense.
That has helped the Niners score an NFL-best 32.6 points per game since he stepped in after the first drive against the Dolphins.
"I'm not shocked anymore," star running back Christian McCaffrey said. "It's just who he is now."
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