Cosell explains why Shanahan not to blame for Purdy injury


After Brock Purdy suffered a devastating injury during the NFC Championship Game, some pointed the finger at 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan for calling the play that got his rookie quarterback hurt.

And while NFL Films producer Greg Cosell understands that's an easy thing to do, he stopped by Super Bowl LVII's Radio Row in Phoenix last week and shared why Shanahan's choice wasn't "stupid."

"That was a shot play, and every team has tight ends block pass rushers. That's not uncommon," Cosell told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan for the latest episode of "49ers Talk." "Now, because the result of that play was obviously not only negative in terms of a sack or whatever it was, but a potential loss of a season for Brock Purdy ... That's easy to rip."

Purdy sustained a torn right UCL when Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick tore past 49ers backup tight end Tyler Kroft to sack the quarterback. The 23-year-old dropped back and was in the process of firing a deep pass off play-action, but Reddick hit his elbow and stripped him of the ball before he could do so.

Purdy will undergo surgery to repair his torn ligament on Feb. 22, and he was one of four San Francisco quarterbacks to exit a game with injury during the 2022 NFL regular season and playoffs.

"Can you sit here and say, as an abstraction, that you don't want Tyler Kroft blocking Haason Reddick?" Cosell said. "Yes, of course you can, and I get that and that's fine.

"But Shanahan's not the only guy that's done that. I've seen it on tape every week, and it works. And I'm being honest, I don't know what else to say about it. It didn't work [for the 49ers], so it looks really bad. But it's not because Kyle Shanahan is stupid."

Purdy's teammates also defended Shanahan in the week after the NFC title game, with George Kittle defending Kroft's ability to block on the play.

"If Coach Shanahan calls something, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability and I believe the guys around me can do it, we have a good tight end room," Kittle said. "Whoever it is is talented to make that block. Reddick is a fantastic pass-rusher ... but I believe Kroft can make that block for the timing that you need to make that block for. It didn't happen, that's football.

"I still believe in my teammates being able to make those blocks. It's unfortunate, but everyone's going to come at Kyle for that, saying, 'Why did you leave a tight end on a defensive end?' People do it, it's just on that play it didn't work very well."

And right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who was lined up inside on the play to Kroft's left, said much of the same as Cosell and Kittle.

"Our tight ends are extremely capable of doing these things," McGlinchey said. "To say that it's a 'stupid' decision is insane to me, and it's just somebody that doesn't really understand how to build a game plan throughout football ... It's nothing out of the ordinary and we do it a lot."

RELATED: Vernon Davis argues Lance, not Purdy, is 49ers' answer at QB

The 49ers Faithful won't ever know what could have happened in the NFC Championship with a healthy Purdy, and the "what-ifs" likely will sting for some time to come.

But there are plenty of uncertainties in football week in and week out, and sometimes they don't fall in a team's favor.

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