49ers report card: Pass offense, NFC title hopes vanish after Purdy injury

49ers report card: Pass offense, NFC title hopes vanish after Purdy injury

PHILADELPHIA — Here is how the No. 2-seed 49ers graded in Sunday’s 31-7 in the NFC Championship Game against the No. 1-seed Eagles:


Brock Purdy’s throwing-elbow injury derailed this unit more than any other quarterback injury this season, and there were others (see: Trey Lance’s ankle fracture on Sept. 18, Jimmy Garoppolo’s foot fracture on Dec. 4). Josh Johnson struggled in relief (three delay-of-game penalties, two sacks, a fumbled shotgun snap) and was gone 2 1/2 minutes after halftime because of a concussion. Purdy got injured on the 49ers’ first possession, which included completions to George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk; his other two passes on the 4-for-4 day came in concession fashion amid the fruitless comeback. Simply put, there was no passing offense once Purdy got hurt, and now the 49ers enter an offseason with startling questions about the quarterback position: What damage was done to Purdy’s elbow? Will Lance’s ankle be OK after two operations? Will Garoppolo finally skip town? The answers eventually will come. Perhaps this “F” grade is harsh for what was an incomplete passing performance, but the production vanished with the injury to Purdy’s once-charmed arm.


Christian McCaffrey played his guts out, especially on his 23-yard, tackle-breaking touchdown run that tied the score at 7. He finished with 84 yards on 15 carries. The quarterback injuries made the 49ers glaringly one-dimensional and reliant on a run game that could not fool nor produce against an Eagles’ front that was the best the 49ers faced all season. Elijah Mitchell did not suit up because of a groin injury, a fitting ending to his season that was marred by two sprained knees. Deebo Samuel finished with minus-9 yards on six carries, fumbling away his final carry on that minus-7 yard run. It all just reflected how anticipatory the Eagles’ defense was in this mismatch.


The most controversial pass play was one that Kyle Shanahan should have challenged: DaVonta Smith’s one-handed, 29-yard catch to the 6-yard line on a fourth-and-3 play that could have been overturned by replay. Nick Bosa did not record a sack in any of the 49ers’ three playoff games. The only sack Sunday came when Jalen Hurts ran out of bounds for no gain, with Arik Armstead credited for that sack. Charles Omenihu had the only other quarterback hit; he played six days after an arrest for suspicion of misdemeanor domestic violence. Hurts only passed for 121 yards (15-of-25). Jimmie Ward’s pass-interference penalty impacted a penalty-filled, go-ahead touchdown drive for the Eagles.


Four touchdowns were allowed on the ground, and Miles Sanders scored two in untouched fashion. The Eagles ran 44 times for 148 yards, and none of those carries went longer than 17 yards. There were missed tackles, penalties and way too much uncharacteristic play from DeMeco Ryans’ unit in what could be his swan song before becoming a head coach, presumably with the Houston Texans if not the Denver Broncos.


Yielding a 29-yard return to the 34-yard line was not the best way to start this game. Robbie Gould didn’t get a chance to improve on his 29-of-29 field-goal record in the postseason. This unit’s highlight was a 42-yard kick return by Ray-Ray McCloud.


This postseason exit by Kyle Shanahan wasn’t generated by a fourth-quarter collapse. Not challenging the fourth-down catch by DeVonta Smith was a regrettable error. Now, how do you grade coaching when there is not a quarterback healthy enough to capably run the offense and engineer a comeback? Too much unraveled across the board, with the defense unable to stop the Eagles (or the officials). It was a tremendous effort to reach this point in a season where the 49ers exhausted their four-man quarterback room.


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