Maiocco Overreactions

49ers overreactions: Are Purdy's overthrows vs. Rams cause for concern?

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It is a long season. This is a reminder for everyone to pace themselves.

The 49ers opened the 2023 NFL season with road victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams.

The win over the Steelers was more lopsided than most expected.

The victory against the Rams might have seemed closer than it should have been. But only a last-second Los Angeles field goal prevented the 49ers from covering that spread, too.

Yes, there still are 15 games remaining in the regular season. Thankfully, the fan base is in midseason form when it comes to hand-wringing.

Again, we have a good mix of fan participation consisting of legitimate concerns and blowing things out of proportion.

Here’s our Week 2 installment of 49ers overreactions:

Shanahan needs to rotate other backs in to keep CMC fresh or they will wear him down later in the season. (Shannon R.)

Overreaction? No.

Running back Christian McCaffrey played every snap in the 49ers’ Week 2 game against the Rams.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that was not the plan -- nor should that ever happen. The 49ers have a solid backup, Elijah Mitchell, and he did not even get off the sideline.

McCaffrey did not have an absurd number of touches in the game. He had 20 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes for 19 yards. But he should not be on the field for 100 percent of the team’s offensive plays.

McCaffrey leads the NFL in rushing attempts (42) and rushing yards (268). It is the right call to feature him.

But this is a long season, and there is no reason why the 49ers have to lean so heavily on McCaffrey. If they do not make a concerted effort to give Mitchell chunks of playing time in every game, McCaffrey will wear down over the course of the 17-game regular season.

It is too early for the 49ers to be so reliant on McCaffrey when they have quality depth at running back.

This was Brock’s worst game as a 49er. (Chris R.)

Overreaction? No.

Yes, this probably was Brock Purdy’s worst game. And it was not all that bad, either.

So that shows just how good Purdy has been since taking over as the starter. It’s a stretch of 11 games in which he has been as good as any quarterback in the history of the sport to open a professional career.

On Sunday, Purdy outplayed Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw two interceptions and averaged only 5.3 yards per pass attempt.

Purdy missed three downfield throws. He also took care of the football and averaged 7.9 yards per passing attempt and accounted for no negative yardage on sacks, either.

The game against the Rams was Purdy’s lowest passer rating (93.1) for any regular-season game. He completed 17 of 25 pass attempts for 206 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

In the 49ers’ playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Purdy completed 19 of 29 attempts for 214 yards. Again, Purdy did not commit any turnovers, and the 49ers moved on to the NFC Championship Game with a 19-12 victory.

Purdy has very little accuracy on deep throws, and that will be a major problem down the road. (James C.)

Overreaction? Yes.

It is quite possible Purdy still is figuring out his touch on the deep throws after undergoing significant elbow surgery in the offseason.

He said after the game that he does not believe there’s any issue with re-learning his timing, arm strength and amount of loft on his deep throws. But all that might not be something he would fully recognize, either.

Or, he simply does not want to make any excuses.

A week ago, we addressed a concern about Purdy’s arm strength. On Sunday, his arm was too strong on deep passes intended for Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings and Deebo Samuel. Any of those plays could have gone for long touchdowns.

Purdy gave himself a chance on those plays with making the proper reads -- even going off-script to the surprise of Shanahan.

Deep passes are not easy. Even Patrick Mahomes completed fewer than 45 percent of his pass attempts last season of 20-plus yards. Purdy’s completion percentage on those throws was a respectable 40.7 as a rookie. He ranked 11th among QBs with 25 or more deep attempts.

Aside from Sunday, we have not seen anything to suggest Purdy’s percentage on those deep throws will be considerably worse than other starting quarterbacks.

Purdy was deadly accurate against the Rams on intermediate passes of 10 to 19 yards down the field, per PFF. He was 4-for-4 on those throws. For the season he is 13 of 14 for 209 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 142.6.

With the talent on this defensive line, they should be putting more pressure on the QB. (Don. T.)

Overreaction? No.

The Rams’ game plan was built around getting the ball out quickly with a variety of short passes to take the steam out of the 49ers’ pass rush.

It worked for a while, as Matthew Stafford regularly found rookie receiver Puka Nacua on underneath routes. The 49ers’ pass rush had a difficult time getting to the quarterback because Stafford got rid of the ball quickly.

The Rams made it difficult on the pass rush. But even without that kind of challenge, we’re still not ready to hold up the 49ers’ pass rush as one of the best in the NFL.

The 49ers had an eight-man rotation on the defensive line. They have three proven, starter-caliber defensive linemen: Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead.

Bosa, obviously, is the team’s best pass rusher. After him, there’s not a lot of pass-rush juice.

Hargrave had 19 sacks in his first five years before getting 18.5 over the past two seasons. He was part of a Philadelphia Eagles defensive line that featured four members with 11 or more sacks. Armstead is a very good all-around player. But aside from his 10-sack season of 2019, he has never put up huge sack numbers. The 49ers are relying on Drake Jackson to develop into a consistent pass-rusher and provide a lift on the other side of Bosa.

So for as much as everyone talks about the 49ers' defensive line, yes, it is totally reasonable to expect more from that unit.

We need to explore other CBs (Dan S.)

Overreaction? Yes.

We’re assuming the suggestion is that the 49ers are struggling at cornerback and need immediate upgrades to this unit.

Based on the first two games, the 49ers’ cornerbacks are actually performing quite well.

But, of course, the 49ers should constantly be searching for upgrades. And with No. 4 cornerback Samuel Womack out for two months, the 49ers on Tuesday filled their open roster spot by signing free agent Anthony Brown five days after he was released from the Steelers' practice squad.

It should be noted Brown won't be getting on the field unless there is more attrition at cornerback.

Granted, the 49ers are allowing 64.4 percent of the opposition’s pass attempts to be completed. They certainly can tighten up their coverage. But the damage has been for the minimum.

In games against Pittsburgh and the Rams, the 49ers allowed a measly 5.3 yards per pass attempt to rank fourth-best in the NFL.

Their opponent passer rating is 68.0 — also ranking fourth.

The 49ers have recorded four interceptions in two games, and three have come from cornerbacks Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir and Isaiah Oliver.

It has not been perfect, and the 49ers have added more depth. But we don’t envision general manager John Lynch making a move to acquire a player expected to step into an immediate starting role.

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