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Is Mr. Irrelevant living up to his namesake?

49ers beat Packers in a close call game, head to the NFC Championship

Editor’s Note: We removed the feature photo because it contained copyrighted material.

No, the simple answer is no. The 262nd pick of the 2022 NFL draft is now set to play in his second National Football Conference Championship game in just two years, but how has sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy found himself in this position?

On Saturday night, the San Francisco 49ers took on the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium — two historic NFC teams that have a history only Mike Lupica could write.

A collective anxiety took the South Bay by storm on Saturday with the 49ers’ shaky start. Green Bay’s phenomenon, Jordan Love, took the Packers right down the field with their very first drive, putting their kicker, Anders Carlson, in position for a field goal — leaving the 49ers behind by three to start.

The third play from scrimmage saw a 15-yard pass from Purdy, aimed right on the numbers of Darnell Savage, the Packers defensive back — a free interception that was ultimately dropped and not counted.

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The very next play, the 49ers all-pro wide receiver, Deebo Samuel, would find the blue tent as he sustained a shoulder injury on a tackle from the Packer’s controversial cornerback, Jaire Alexander with credit also given to Quay Walker and De’Vondre Campbell.

Aaron Rodger’s successor would respond to the 49ers’ first down, five play run and punt, by leading Green Bay right down the field once again, completely disregarding the 49ers’ Monstars-esque defense, however, their drive would be halted as Love was ruled short of the line to gain on a controversial 4th and 1, the 49ers had now been “Saved by the Bell” on two occasions to begin this game.

Deebo’s injury saw an uptick in the already absurd workload of future first-ballot hall of famer, Christian McCaffrey. The Stanford product would provide a safety valve for Purdy to rely on to dust off the cobwebs and begin to get into his groove.

The several miscues on the part of Purdy would soon be wiped from the memory of 49ers fans as on 3rd and 5. Purdy would roll out to his right and off one foot, deliver a 32-yard touchdown pass to George Kittle to get the 49ers on the board just before the half. This very throw eliminates any “System QB” narrative as this felt like we had turned back the clocks and were watching the Aaron Rodgers of old.

Love’s subjective inefficiency within the final third of the field would see the end of the first half, the 49ers lead 7-6. Purdy would finish the half with 125 yards on 10/16 passing and the lone touchdown to Kittle. Although the 49ers were winning at halftime, San Jose native, Michael Bernard said, “(Purdy) is rusty, he needs to get back to his regular self. The two-week break didn’t help him.”

Love opened the second half by driving right down the field once again ultimately capping off the drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Packer’s receiver, Bo Melton.

The theme of miscues did not only fall on the part of Purdy, a careless pass interference on 3rd and 15 would give Love and Company the new set of downs, ultimately leading to the touchdown.

Alameda native Talmond Old went on record after the game about his thoughts following the Green Bay touchdown. “A slight glimpse into our season-ending. They should’ve beat us. That was the second time a defensive back fell over leading to a big play,” Old said.

The 49ers would respond to Green Bay’s touchdown by way of a 39-yard touchdown rush from Christian McCaffrey, and the 49ers would go up 1. On the next drive, the Packers’All-Pro kick returner Keisean Nixon returned the 49ers’ kickoff 73-yards to set up Love for a two-yard touchdown pass to Tucker Kraft.

Purdy and company would respond to the red-hot Love by way of three and out, ending with yet another Purdy misread that undoubtedly should have been intercepted.

“This is it, this is the time,” Los Angeles native and Packers die-hard Joe O’Neil said to himself as Love had the ball up seven with two minutes left in the third.

Fellow Los Angeles Native and 49ers die-hard, Mike DeHerrera, went on record saying, “This is a must-stop to set the tone for the fourth quarter.”

Four plays later Love would make his first mistake of a near-flawless game by throwing behind touchdown scorer Tucker Kraft on a 5-yard crossing route that would ultimately be tipped and intercepted by the savior of the 49ers season, linebacker Dre Greenlaw.

O’Neil followed up his earlier quote after the interception, “That was a bad pass, I wasn’t panicked but the defense needed to step up. It was at the point in the game where a mistake would lose the game.” Wise words from the only Packers fan in all of Los Angeles County.

Love’s interception along with Carlson’s missed field goal would spark a 10-0 fourth-quarter run by Shannahan and company, ultimately securing the 49ers’ tickets to their fourth NFC Championship game in only five years.

Taking a page directly out of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ playbook, Purdy was able to wipe the memories of 49ers fans by leading a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. Love would get one more opportunity to rain on the parade of 49ers fans however eerily similar to Brett Favre in 2009, Love would roll out to his right and throw a crossbody interception to none other than, Dre Greenlaw.

Purdy had his moments in this game however this comes with the territory of being a second-year quarterback in the playoffs. Purdy made several highlight-worthy throws that show his true capabilities, one of which was a massive completion to Jauan Jennings over the middle of the field to give the 49ers a few more breaths of air.

Purdy would end the game with 252 passing yards on 59% completion percentage and the lone touchdown to Kittle.

I beg the question once again, Is Mr. Irrelevant living up to his namesake? No, the answer is no.

The 49ers take on the red-hot Detroit Lions this Sunday at home for the conference Championship.

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About the Contributor
Connor Giblin, Freelance Reporter

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