Two plays, bad and good, stand out from Purdy's first start


SANTA CLARA — Brock Purdy, making the first start of his young NFL career, made his first mistake just moments before taking his first snap of the game.

And he paid quite a price for his error.

Then, he settled down and played better than could have been expected. His execution of one play he did not even practice during the week stood out from the 49ers’ thorough 35-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“He showed a lot,” 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk said of Purdy. “He showed that he could get an assignment, go out there and execute it.”

Purdy’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Aiyuk with 15 seconds remaining in the first half was the perfect example of the faith he already has earned from 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

Afterward, Aiyuk said the play was not even in the game plan. As Shanahan later explained, he spoke to Purdy the night before the game about the possibility of making a rather significant adjustment to the play.

“Situationally, and thinking of something, I told Brock it might come tomorrow,” Shanahan said. “I asked him if he was comfortable with it, and he was."

The original play call was for Aiyuk to run a 15-yard curl along the left side. But Shanahan anticipated the opportunity for a big play against Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean. When Purdy pump-faked, Dean bit. Aiyuk ran a curl-and-go, and Purdy delivered the pass to a wide-open Aiyuk near the goal line just as Tampa Bay defensive lineman Deadrin Senat broke through on a stunt to hit him.

“It was an awesome job by Brock pumping him, especially with the guy in his face and taking that hit,” Shanahan said. “It was a huge play for us at the end of the half.”

The timing of the play could not have been any more deflating for the Buccaneers. On the previous play, Purdy’s intercepted pass was nullified by a defensive holding penalty.

Rather than settling for a field goal at the end of the half, Shanahan trusted Purdy enough to give him an opportunity at making a big play. The touchdown gave the 49ers a 28-0 lead at halftime.

The first half ended a lot better than it began for Purdy.

On the first play of the game, Buccaneers safety Keanu Neal came untouched off the front side and delivered a huge hit on Purdy for an apparent sack. (Neal was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer.)

There was no mystery where the mixup occurred.

“I was in the wrong play, actually, so that was on me,” Purdy said.

The first call from Shanahan’s script of 24 plays to open the game was a man-zone read, Shanahan said. Purdy changed the call because he thought the Buccaneers were playing man coverage. He was wrong.

“He was just a little excited at the beginning,” Shanahan said. “He got it mixed up with a couple other coverages. And he checked to the man play, which does not have a blocker for (Neal), if he comes.

“So he regretted that pretty quick. But he came back from it fast. Sometimes those plays wake you up very fast.”

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Purdy got up from the hit, and three plays later made a key throw to George Kittle on a third-and-7 play to pick up a first down en route to a touchdown to cap the first drive of the game.

Purdy went on to complete a remarkable debut as a starter despite playing with some discomfort in his oblique and ribs. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 185 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and added a 2-yard touchdown scramble.

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