SANTA CLARA — For Brock Purdy’s next heroic feat, he must overcome a sore body and win at the NFL’s ultimate amphitheater in Seattle, a historically cruel place for 49ers quarterbacks.
“This is probably the most hostile environment you could probably play in, either (Seattle) or Arrowhead (in Kansas City),” Purdy said Tuesday. “I’m excited for it. All these guys have played here a bunch of time, so I’m just hearing them out, in terms of communication and operation. We’ll be ready to roll for it.”
Will he, though?
Purdy, because of oblique and rib injuries in winning his first start Sunday, will be a game-time decision Thursday night when the 49ers play at the Seahawks’ Lumen Field, coach Kyle Shanahan said before Tuesday’s practice.
“I haven’t been out to practice or tried to throw the football, yet.,” Purdy said. “So it’s how I feel walking around or doing movements in the pool. I can still jog and run but I haven’t tried playing football yet. … It wasn’t excruciating pain. I was just sore after the game.”
Purdy was slated to be limited in Tuesday evening’s practice at Levi’s Stadium. “We’ll find out as these two days go,” Shanahan said of Purdy’s health. “We’ll not try to figure that out today or tomorrow. It’ll be Thursday when it’s the best chance to be known.”
If Purdy can not play, Josh Johnson would become the 49ers’ fourth starting quarterback this season, and, either way, Shanahan will have a fourth different quarterback in six seasons going to Seattle.
“I’ve never been anywhere louder,” Shanahan said. “I know how the fans are and how the stadium is. You can’t expect to hear not just at the line of scrimmage but in the huddle, at times. It’s a big difference playing there.”
“That will be different and more hostile than he’s probably played in, even in college,” Richard Sherman, former cornerback for the Seahawks and 49ers, said on a Tuesday media call as part of Amazon Prime’s broadcast team. “That (Seattle noise) will have an effect on him. But he’s a playmaker. Everybody has to go through it. I’m sure he’ll find a way to manage.”
The 49ers are 5-16 since that pseudo-opera house opened downtown in 2002. Heck, that’s only one more win than that venue has had names (Seahawks Stadium, Qwest Field, CenturyLink, Lumen).
These 49ers (9-4) enter on a six-game win streak, and a victory would clinch the NFC West. The fading Seahawks (7-6) have lost three of their past four.
A win also would give Purdy as many as any other 49ers quarterback who’s ever started there: Jeff Garcia (1-1), Ken Dorsey (0-1), Alex Smith (1-5), J.T. O’Sullivan (1-0), Colin Kaepernick (0-4), Blaine Gabbert (0-2), Brian Hoyer (0-1), Nick Mullens (0-1) and Jimmy Garoppolo (1-2).
Those quarterbacks have combined to throw 14 touchdown passes in the 21 games — against 24 turnovers, with 14 interceptions and seven lost fumbles — at Seattle since it became NFC West in 2002. Smith and Mullens lost there as rookies, each with an interception in the process.
Only O’Sullivan was flawless in Seattle, winning his lone start for the 49ers there by passing for 321 yards and getting sacked eight times in September 2008. It was the first road start of his career, but he was in his seventh NFL season, so Purdy enters on a different level.
Purdy is coming with a playoff contender. The 49ers have been to the playoffs six times since 2002, and that accounts for three of the franchise’s five wins in Seattle.
“He looks really good. He’s making all the throws you’d expect,” Sherman said. “He’s sneaky athletic and has made some really cool plays. Everyone is saying, ‘When they get the film on him, they’re going to be able to stop him,’ but there’s nothing he’s doing that you’re like you study on film and that’s his weakness.
“He’s handling pressure well, guys are hitting him in the face, he’s not just running zone read,” Sherman added. “He’s making great throws and if he continues that he will be fun to watch.”
If Purdy can’t play or struggles and must be relieved, veteran Josh Johnson is in the wings, yet he’s 1-8 all-time as a starter in a 15-year career as an NFL journeyman. Johnson’s never played in Seattle, either, but he’s been there three times as a backup, including when the 49ers fell in a December 2014 visit.
Last season, the 49ers won their final 7-of-9 games to make the playoffs, but they lost a Dec. 5 visit to Seattle, a 30-23 defeat in which Garoppolo and the offense got shut out after holding a 23-21 halftime lead.
This will be Seattle’s 161st consecutive sellout crowd, dating to 2013. As loud and ground-shaking as it surely will be, the 68,000-plus fans won’t be the largest contingent Purdy’s encountered.
The most daunting environment he said he’s played was a 2019 trip to Oklahoma as an Iowa State sophomore, when he threw five touchdown passes but still lost before 83,541 fans that made it tough to hear, something he acknowledged will help him Thursday night, if he plays. In his 2018 freshman season at Iowa State, after winning in relief before 52,995 at Oklahoma State, Purdy and the Cyclones struggled before 102,498 at Texas, where his 130 yards were the fewest of his four-year career.
Purdy won’t be the only newcomer to Seattle’s noise. As impressive as they’ve been this season, the 49ers’ interior linemen – center Jake Brendel and guards Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford — have yet to line up for silent snap counts in Seattle.
The 49ers won their home opener 27-7 against Seattle three months ago, overcoming Trey Lance’s first-quarter ankle fracture and inserting Garoppolo back into his old job, which he thrived in until a foot fracture prompted the 49ers to turn to Purdy for wins over Miami (33-17) and Tampa Bay (35-7).
The Seahawks have won 14 of the last 17 meetings. They’re 10-2 on Thursday nights and 23-5 at home in prime-time kickoffs since 2010 under Pete Carroll.
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s sprained left knee and ankle will shelve him for three weeks, Shanahan said of the projected timeline. That would allow Samuel to return before the regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, though that outcome could be moot by then for the 49ers’ playoff path.
Samuel was not slated to practice Tuesday, nor were Garoppolo, defensive tackles Hassan Ridgeway (pectoral) and Kevin Givens (knee), cornerback Sam Womack III (concussion protocol) and safety Tarvarius Moore (knee).
Running back Christian McCaffrey (knee), cornerback Ambry Thomas (ankle) and defensive linemen Arik Armstead (foot, ankle) and Kerry Hyder Jr. (ankle) were to be limited.
DEFENSIVE LINE HELP
In the wake of starter Kevin Givens’ knee sprain Sunday, the 49ers added to their defensive line depth by signing Mike Dwumfour to the practice squad. Cornerback Dontae Johnson, in a corresponding roster move, went on injured reserve with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Dwumfour, a Michigan product, appeared in 10 games since 2021 with the Houston Texans, who waived him last week.