At the worst possible moment, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was confronted with a QB problem he couldn’t fix

Philadelphia – for all the genius of Kyle Shanahan this season – all the mistakes and the confidence and the arrogance and the winning – the NFL’s average laws suggested there king be at the bottom of his bag. The only question was whether San Francisco 49ers The head coach can sidestep the moment, possibly overrun it, trick or treat it away and keep this unlikely spin going.

But when the end finally came, the moment was as cruel as it was final.

A third rookie Stringer turned Savior Brooke Purdy can not throw. Fourth stringer Josh Johnson Can’t play. running back Christian McCaffrey He was fitted with a quarterback wristband and the 49ers were given two options: keep Purdy in the game and let him hand the ball, or use their marquee running back as a centerpiece in the Wildcat scheme. Either way, it is Philadelphia Eagles He had a brutal defense that was leading 21-7 early in the third quarter of the NFC Championship game and had the final advantage over Shanahan’s offense. Not only was it one-dimensional with no passing quarterbacks, but he didn’t have any options left.

Suddenly, the Eagles hit San Francisco’s depth chart into territory unseen this season. Two more backhanders broke, leaving the bottom of Shanahan’s bag with nothing more than a fistful of air. It’s the kind that takes a legitimate Super Bowl contender and shrinks him to a roster in collective disbelief, as players stare blankly at other quarterback’s injuries and wonder What’s going on?

“I think everyone has done that [think] That, “49ers tight end George Keitel He said After Sunday’s lopsided 31-7 loss to the Eagles. “You put on two quarterbacks and neither of them can throw and neither of them is really available. It kind of limits what you can do as an offense.”

How limited? Kittle performed in a limited number: 15 plays, give or take. With basically all of them featuring some kind of playback component.

“You can only do so much,” Kettle said. “Once Purdy got back, they put six guys on the line of scrimmage and loaded the box. It’s not like we could do any play actions or anything outside of it, so we kind of had to fight it.”

January 29, 2023;  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA;  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) raises his hand to running back Christian McCaffrey (23) against the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field.  Mandatory credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy (13) was severely restricted as the starting quarterback Sunday due to an elbow injury. (Bill Streicher-USA Today Sports)

This game was a story of huge eagles, of course. One in many, in fact. It was about a defense that didn’t get as much hype as it deserved and an advanced rush in it Hasson Riddick Who is without a doubt the most disruptive in the game in the 2022 season. It was about the quarterback at Jalen Hurts Who seems to be suffering from injury and general manager Howie Roseman who brilliantly rebuilt his second Super Bowl With a different coach and midfielder.

These are the stories that will continue for the next two weeks Super Bowl LVII. Ultimately, the 49ers aren’t going to undercut one of the best defenses to fall short of the NFL’s biggest stage. Not to mention finishing the rookie season in the storybook for Purdy, who went from last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to a legitimate contender for the franchise’s start next season.

Perhaps it’s a great testament to Purdy that the 49ers offense faltered so badly in his absence, after a hit by Reddick on San Francisco’s first drive eventually forced Purdy to fumble and changed the course of the game. While the exact nature of the injury remained unknown Sunday night, it was severe enough to require an MRI next week. It’s a fact that was made apparent to the quarterback almost immediately, as he went to the sideline and told Shanahan the worst possible news: He couldn’t throw anymore.

“I really felt a lot of bumps everywhere from my elbow to my wrist [the] Back [of my arm]Purdy said. “Just pain, everywhere… I told him right there.” [after the Reddick hit]’, ‘If we run a play, I can’t get any deeper. “

And it was it. With all due respect to the skillful man Josh Johnson, I felt like the balance of momentum would ease off as the game went on. Which it did, though, as McCaffrey faked a 7-7 tie in the second quarter on a 23-yard TD run. It was only a matter of time before the elite defense made itself felt and turned the tables on a 49-man squad that had been beating opponents all season. Finally, when Johnson lost early in the third quarter to a concussion—while trailing by 14 points—the only option left was to get Purdy and his splintered arm back in the game to hand it and hope for a miracle that never happened. about to come true.

Just like that, the rookie quarterback who led San Francisco’s offense went on to a level worthy of a Super Bowl run. With him, Shanahan feels comfortable opening up the entire playbook against a ferocious opponent. It was one of the weirdest and most frustrating moments in Shanahan’s history, taking his place next to a Super Bowl loss as offensive coordinator with Atlanta Falcons Then another as coach of those 49 of those. Neither of them felt toothless like this.

His bitterness was palpable as Shanahan walked off the field on Sunday, with taut silences at his side’s side. His eyes were fixed with a forward gaze, and he absolutely did not acknowledge the presence of individuals around him who passed by and made faint gestures. They were the kind of exchanges you’d expect when a head coach makes three NFC title appearances in four years, but never quite resolved the differential calculus required to win a Super Bowl. A man who will get Coach of the Year votes and just might win the award for the first time in his career, largely for finding a way out of the season-long linebacker mess.

“The guys are great out there,” Shanahan said after the loss. “We were really excited for the day…. I wish we had a little better chance than we did today.”

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan walks off the field after losing the NFC Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles.  This is the second straight season the 49ers have fallen short of achieving a Super Bowl.  (AP Photo/Matt Roark)

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan walks off the field after losing the NFC Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles. It is the second consecutive season that the 49ers have fallen one win short of achieving the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Matt Roark)

Kittle added, “How does it feel when you lose the NFC Championship game because I don’t have a quarterback? Pretty *****, to be honest.”

For the most part, the one-sided nature of losing will eliminate some of the second guesses that would have occurred had the game been closer. The 24-point defeat tends to numb questions about penalties, depth chart decisions, and blocking schemes (such as those where the tight end Tyler Croft He was trying to stop Reddick when the Purdy hit happened). At some point, the nature of injuries can bury a team and it’s fair to say that’s what happened to the 49ers offense.

But that wouldn’t eliminate the question of where this defense might have settled if Purdy hadn’t been hurt, or what this edition of the 49ers might be capable of. It’s destined to change now, as all NFL teams – when their season ends – lose players, assistant coaches, and front office personnel. San Francisco will be no different, with the off-season turning to contracts and the future of defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Not to mention questions about how significant the injury was to Purdy’s arm and what that means for future competition at the quarterback with Tri Lance.

Ultimately, that will be the focus of this franchise. But only after getting over it What if: What if Purdy’s arm survived Sunday’s blow? what if Jimmy Garoppolo Was she healthy enough to go back to the reserve? What if Johnson gets a real chance to see if Shanahan can engineer something with his fourth caller to signal this season? Ultimately, the franchise will have to get past these questions, and the coaching staff and roster will need to get back on the same journey again.

Kittle summed it up Sunday night, talking about a franchise that has finally run out of answers for its quarterbacks in the 2022 season.

“What if it just kind of rubs off our entire lives in a way, if we don’t achieve our goals,” he said. “I try not to look at what if. S*** happened. How would you respond to it?”

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