BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
The Brock Purdy era got off to an impressive start with a near perfect performance by the 49ers in a 35–7 domination of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday afternoon at Levi Stadium to stretch their winning streak to six games.
Christian McCaffrey continued to be a game changer with a pair of touchdowns and 119 yards on the ground as the Niners NFL best defense put up another strong performance, intercepting Tom Brady twice and holding Tampa Bay scoreless until the closing minutes of the third quarter by which time San Francisco already had a 35-0 lead.
Deebo Samuel’s 13 yard touchdown run two and a half minutes into the game helped San Francisco get on the scoreboard quickly on their first possession, and Purdy, facing off against the seven time Super Bowl winning Brady in his first career NFL start, showed extreme poise going 16-21 for 185 yards and two touchdown passes, adding a third on the ground.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan raved about his new QB after the game, “I think he did an awesome job. He made a ton of plays. Made the plays that were there, made some plays that weren’t there. He did a great job in the pocket. Had one mistake there, he was fortunate that we got that one back. He didn’t hesitate. I think he threw a touchdown the next play, which was really cool, but it’s really impressive how he played and I thought it was similar to the week before.”
It was the sixth straight win for San Francisco (9-4) and puts them in position to clinch the NFC West with a win in Seattle Thursday night against the Seahawks.
Purdy scored on a two yard run on the first play of the second quarter for the first rushing touchdown of his young career, then connected with McCaffrey on a 27 yard scoring strike on the next series to put the Niners up 21-0 midway thru the stanza. It wouldn’t get any better for the Bucs (6-7) as Purdy found Brandon Aiyuk on a 32 yard scoring pass to give San Francisco a four touchdown cushion going into the locker room at halftime.
Asked if it felt surreal to look up at the lopsided scoreboard with Brady on the other sideline, Purdy responded “I just kept telling myself, dude, this thing ain’t over with that guy on the other side of the field. I just wanted to keep putting up points on the board however many times we could knowing this dude’s made all these crazy comebacks in his career. I didn’t want that to happen in my first game as a starter. So, the whole time I’m doing my thing, not looking at the scoreboard knowing the situations and stuff, but also respecting who’s on the other side, didn’t want to give him a chance at the end.”
On the second play after Tashaun Gipson picked off a Brady pass to open the third quarter, McCaffrey broke free for a 38 yard touchdown dash and the rout was on. The only bright spot for 45 year old future Hall of Famer came when he connected with Russell Gage for an eight yard touchdown pass with three minutes remaining in the quarter for Tampa Bay’s only points of the game. Brady finished 34-55 for 253 yards with the one touchdown and two interceptions. The 28 point loss was the third worst of his 22 year career.
Jordan Mason added 56 yards on 11 carries for the 49ers, while Aiyuk caught a pair of passes for 57 yards and a score. Samuel had four receptions for 43 yards but needed to get carted off the field after taking a hit with just over five minutes remaining in the first half. The early prognosis was that the injury might cause him to miss the remainder of the regular season.
Purdy is the first rookie in the Super Bowl era with at least two touchdown passes, a rushing TD and a passer rating of 125-or-higher in his first career start. His 134.0 passer rating is the sixth highest by an NFL QB in their first career start since at least the merger in 1970.
San Francisco is 6-1 or better through its first seven home games for the first time since 2011.
With 153 scrimmage yards, McCaffrey registered 100-or-more scrimmage yards for the 41st time since he entered the league in 2017, the most in the NFL in that time frame. His nine games with 100-or-more scrimmage yards in 2022 is tied for the most in the NFL with Tennessee’s Derrick Henry.
The Niners went over 200 rushing yards for the sixth time under Shanahan (2017-22), improving to 6-0 in those contests.
The 49ers defense has registered two or more interceptions in back to back games for the first time since 2015. The defensive shutout in the first half marked an NFL high fourth time this season that the unit has kept its opponent off the scoreboard thru halftime. It’s also the eighth time overall they’ve went an entire half without allowing a score this season, an NFL high and the most by the franchise in a single season since at least 1970.