Though he was largely tabbed a pocket passer coming out of Iowa State, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy has added a surprising dynamic to Kyle Shanahan’s offense with his leg, even if it doesn’t always appear on the stat sheet. Despite only picking up 13 rushing yards on 22 attempts with a single touchdown on the ground, Purdy’s ability to roll out of the pocket to extend plays and look for targets down the field has led to multiple big plays during his tenure under center, including a scrambling touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 19.
Even if his ground game isn’t to the same level as Trey Lance, the dual-threat QB John Lynch traded up for in the 2020 NFL Draft, Purdy’s ability to execute movement-based passing plays has been a boon to the 49ers’ offense, but in Week 20, he’ll face one of his toughest challenges yet in Micah Parsons, the multi-hyphenate Dallas Cowboys defender who ran a 4.39 40 yard dash coming out of Penn State. When asked about how he will use his legs in the 49ers’ second postseason game of the 2022 campaign, Purdy noted during his Thursday media session that Parsons presence will certainly change his plan when venturing outside of the pocket.
“I think it is instinctual, but also at the same time, you have to account for those kinds of guys on the defense,” Purdy said via 49ers WebZone. “With a guy with that kind of caliber and then obviously the amount of games that I’ve played, so they obviously see that I’ve done that, so you sort of just have to keep it all level in terms of if it closes, I can still go out, but at the same time, I have to know they probably know I’m going to go left or whatever it is, so it’s always good to know that you’re going against guys that are very athletic like Micah and all those guys up front. Yeah, I think it goes both ways, but you just have to make sure that they’re studying you as well.”
With 13.5 sacks and 27 QB hits recorded during his second-straight All-Pro/Pro Bowl season, Parsons is certainly a weapon that Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn loves to move around his defensive formations. If Purdy wants to avoid being taken to the ground by the PSU product, he’ll need to make sure he knows where he’s lined up before every snap, as, to paraphrase offensive line coach/run game coordinator Chris Foerster, Parsons doesn’t stay blocked for long.
Chris Foerster Appreciates the Challenge of Slowing Down Parsons
Arguably the man most responsible for slowing down Parsons outside of the offensive linemen, Foerster was asked during his Thursday media session to give his scouting report on the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and needless to say, he has a healthy respect for the second-year pro.
“Oh, great athlete. There are these guys that when you go to block them, [Cleveland Browns DL] Myles Garrett is another one that comes to mind, even 90 [Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence] on their team is the same way, but they’re coming at you and the next thing you know, they make one move and they move further when they go inside, they go from here to way over there a lot faster. They move, two, three yards at a time, when they sidestep and swipe you, they’re just gone. And some guys do the same move and they kind of go like me, I’d go from right here to right here and somebody’d still be blocking me, but when it’s them, it’s bam. Like [DL Nick] Bosa and you think you have them, and then all of a sudden, they’re gone. And that’s what it is. He’s got this great elusiveness, he still has some power with it. What he’s really good at too is when he gets into your body for a guy that isn’t a real big and physical player, not that he’s overly powerful to push, although he can do it. He’s really good when he gets into your body getting off a block, they don’t stay blocked. I’d say that’s the biggest thing you can say about all of them. They don’t stay blocked.”
According to Statmuse, the 49ers only allowed 31 sacks over the 17-game regular season. If the 49ers can keep Purdy upright in their second playoff game of the season, it could bode well for the team’s chances of making it to the NFC Championship game, as the Cowboys are 6-2 in games where Parsons recorded at least one sack in 2022. Fortunately, Parsons’ history against the 49ers should provide slight encouragement for fans wondering how they will sleep until Sunday.
Micah Parsons is sack-less against the San Francisco 49ers
While Parsons’ forthcoming matchup against the Niners is arguably the most important game of his career, it isn’t his first, as Dallas actually faced off against San Francisco during the 2021 playoffs as well. In that game, played on Wildcard Weekend, Parsons certainly impacted the game, as he finished out the contest with nine tackles and a tackle for loss, Parsons did not record a sack in the contest, a feat he also failed to meet on Super Wildcard Weekend earlier in January of 2023.
Will Parsons’ sack-less streak against the 49ers continue in Week 20? Only time will tell, but Parsons has never gone more than three games without a full sack in his NFL career, and after recording just .5 sacks over the past three weeks, statistics would suggest he’s due for a QB takedown.