Brock Purdy

Shanahan admits he was ‘stressed' during Purdy-CMC TD play

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The 49ers left Arizona with a decisive 45-19 win over the Cardinals, but there was a specific play that raised the blood pressure of coach Kyle Shanahan. 

At the beginning of the third quarter, the offense was in a 1st-and-10 situation at the Cardinals' 41-yard line. Brock Purdy rolled out to the left to avoid the rush and eventually threw the ball deep down the sideline to running back Christian McCaffrey who had lost sight of his quarterback.

“I was so stressed because we knew we had the look and it was something we knew would take a long time to develop, but we felt if we could hold on, it would be there,” Shanahan said via conference call on Monday. “Then we knew Christian got to the spot, but we didn't think we were going to be able to hold on.

“Then Brock did a hell of a job buying some time so he could get away from the internal pressure. Then right when he threw it, I was like, ‘All right, perfect, we pulled it off.' But you could tell Christian didn't pick up the ball right away. So the whole time it was in the air, it just looked like he was going to stumble or it was going to go over him.” 

McCaffrey seemed to backpedal for about 10 yards before he was able to track the ball. Outstretched, facing away from the end zone, the All-Pro was able to secure the ball for a completion but couldn’t keep his balance and fell to the grass.

“I didn’t see the ball,” McCaffrey explained after the game. “I felt like an idiot backpedaling like that. I didn’t see the ball until halfway in the air. I was just glad we connected. Brock made a great play scrambling and staying with it.”

As the play evolved, Purdy himself was not sure the play was going to work. The quarterback could tell that his target was unsure of where the ball was, once in the air. 

“I bounced out of the pocket and then I saw him go down the field,” Purdy said. “At that point, I didn’t know, is he going to continue to run straight or is he turning to me? So I just sort of put it up in the air and he did a good job tracking it down, catching it, and then getting up and scoring.

“Sort of a tough moment right then and there, what to do, where the ball should be, but we got it done.”

The amount of separation McCaffrey had on the left side of the field gave him the time to get up and make it past the goal line for his second touchdown of the day. Trent Williams had a front-row seat for the whole play, and gave his teammate a little grief after the game for his gaffe.

“I had a good vantage point,” Williams said. “I didn’t see the ball but I did see him backpedaling. I was surprised he had time to fall on his face and get back up then go into the endzone.”

The score stretched the 49ers' lead to 15 points on their way to locking up the NFC West division title. Shanahan was more than relieved when his running back crossed the goal line.

“When he caught it, we knew we were all right because we knew he was alone,” Shanahan said. “It was a cool deal and I was pumped they were able to pull it off.”

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