Instant analysis of 49ers’ 35-7 rout of Tom Brady and Bucs

SANTA CLARA — Brock Purdy’s first career start had his dad shedding joyful tears in the Levi’s Stadium stands, and the 49ers’ Faithful shared that sentiment Sunday by chanting “Pur-dy! Pur-dy!” at times in Sunday’s 35-7 rout of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A 28-0 halftime lead made certain Purdy – and the 49ers’ top-ranked defense —  would upstage Brady’s rare and perhaps final homecoming to his native Bay Area.

On the 49ers’ way to a sixth straight win, however, came trouble, in the form of Deebo Samuel getting carted off the field with a high ankle sprain five minutes before halftime. It’s not a fracture but it’s still the latest, scary injury to a franchise that deployed Purdy as its third starting quarterback this season, a week after losing Jimmy Garoppolo to a potentially season-ending foot fracture.

The 49ers (9-4) must quickly cast aside their mixed emotions and worthy ego. Thursday night brings their next game, at Seattle’s daunting venue where they’ll face the Seahawks (7-6) to possibly clinch the NFC West crown.

Purdy, as surprisingly impressive as he was in relief last Sunday to beat Miami, put forth a masterpiece Sunday. He became the first of seven quarterbacks in NFL history to win a debut against Brady, a San Mateo native who played only one previous road game against the 49ers (a 2016 New England Patriots win).

Afterward, Purdy had to wait his turn in a reception line of 49ers that gathered to shake hands with Brady, a stream that included Dre Greenlaw, Fred Warner, Charles Omenihu, Talanoa Hufanga, Deommodore Lenoir and, finally, Purdy, with general manager John Lynch also in the wings. Greenlaw brought with him the football he intercepted and, at Warner’s urging, Brady obliged by autographing it.

“Man the worst thing he could tell me is no. He’s a good guy to be able to sign that ball, even though those hits,” Greenlaw said. “It’s big time, I appreciate it. I went like a little fan girl, got to soothe him up, ‘You’re the greatest ever.’ He is, he is. Said he appreciates it.”

The 45-year-old Brady rifled 55 passes and completed 34 for 253 yards, with a pair of second-half interceptions and a touchdown throw when the Bucs trailed 35-0.

The 22-year-old Purdy completed 16-of-21 passes for 185 yards — all but three passes coming in the first half — and he produced two touchdown passes plus a 2-yard touchdown run. He was not intercepted nor sacked before Josh Johnson was summoned for his 49ers debut in the final minutes. Purdy came away with an oblique injury and, although there’s uncertainty how it might feel once Sunday’s adrenaline expires, he said he could have stayed in the game if needed.

“We’ve got a quarterback,” defensive end Nick Bosa said. “I had a lot of confidence in him but it’s the NFL and you have to perform, and he did that pretty darn good. Each time he scored, he waited on the sideline until the extra point and congratulated the lineman each time. Kid’s awesome.”

Purdy checked in postgame with his proud and still-emotional parents, Shawn and Carrie, and  “the way they looked down at me from up on the railings, man, it means a lot to me. The ups and downs of life playing quarterback, high school then college, the people at home believe in you and always see the best in you. They believe in me.

“Even though I’m the last draft pick and all that kind of stuff, they’ve always been telling me ‘You’re good enough and we know you can do it.’ To see them afterward it meant a lot to me.”

On the fans chanting his name, Purdy said. “It was wild to hear the whole stadium say that. We’ve got great fans. I’m very thankful.”

And on Brady’s postgame message, Purdy noted: “It was surreal standing there, ‘Man, that’s Tom Brady talking to guys and dabbing them up. For him to have respect for what I did today was pretty cool, I’m not going to lie. Being a little kid and watching that guy kill it all these years and win Super Bowls, to give him a high-five at the end, that was pretty cool.”

Purdy’s helpers start with the 49ers’ defense, which posted a first-half shutout and then intercepted Brady twice, by Tashaun Gipson Sr. and Greenlaw, who also matched his career high with 15 tackles. The defense’s hunger, along with multiple injuries, prompted coaches to keep playing NFL sack leader Nick Bosa into the fourth quarter.

“They’re physical, they’re tough, they kicked our (butt),” Brady said. “That’s the reality of this sport. Every time you take the field, you have the opportunity to get your (butt) kicked or kick (butt). Obviously we were on the wrong end of it today.”

Offensively, Purdy did more than just serve as a property manager on the 49ers’ home turf. He got the ball to the 49ers’ stars, and they delivered, such as two touchdowns from Christian McCaffrey and one apiece by Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, not to mention Purdy’s own short scoring scramble to open the second quarter for a 14-0 lead.

McCaffrey racked up 119 rushing yards (14 carries) and 34 receiving yards (two catches). Samuel had four carries (21 yards) and four receptions (43 yards) before his departure.

All that combined set this up as one of the worst losses in Brady’s 376 career starts, including 47 in the playoffs and an unparalleled seven Super Bowl wins.

A 28-0 halftime lead might not have seemed too safe to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator when they lost Super Bowl LI as Brady rallied the New England Patriots from a 28-3 deficit for a 34-28 overtime win.

“Any time you’re up a lot, you go back to any scars you have. I do the math a lot,” Shanahan said. “I definitely didn’t feel good with Brady.”

The 49ers’ lead reached 35-0 before Brady led a scoring drive to avoid his fourth career shutout, with a deflected touchdown pass landing with Russell Gage Jr. 2:48 before the fourth quarter. (A 35-point loss to New Orleans in 2020 remains the most lopsided of Brady’s career.)

The 49ers’ feel-good start came to a halt 5:01 before halftime when Samuel’s left leg was bent awkwardly on a carry, which he fumbled. The crowd fell silent, Bucs’ defenders took a knee and left tackle Trent Williams looked beside himself as he walked to the sideline. Samuel required a cart came to drive him to the locker room.

Samuel’s injury initially was announced by the 49ers as a knee issue. Not long after it was corrected in the third quarter to an ankle injury, and a high sprain figures to keep Samuel out multiple weeks. Aiyuk said he and teammates checked in with Samuel at halftime to see where he was at, to which Aiyuk relayed: “It’s Deebo. He’s not going to give you too much (detail).”

Before this affair was done, multiple injuries took out 49ers defenders: Kevin Givens, Deommodore Lenoir, Kerry Hyder Jr., Dontae Johnson and Samuel Womack II. None were serious enough to require a cart ride to the locker room.

Most of those casualties came after the massive lead was built, including Samuel, who ran to the Bucs’ 40-yard line before fumbling and being taken down by Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Anthony Nelson.

Samuel scored the 49ers’ first touchdown on a 13-yard run to cap their opening possession. It was his third rushing touchdown of the season, and he followed key blocks by George Kittle and Mike McGlinchey to race down the right sideline.

Three touchdown drives ensued in the second quarter, which opened with Purdy’s 2-yard scoring scramble. McCaffrey scored their third and fifth touchdowns, only it took a pair of officiating reviews to confirm his 27-yard scoring grab for a 21-0 lead after Purdy beat an all-out, third-and-5 blitz. McCaffrey capped the scoring with a 38-yard touchdown run, following Gipson’s interception of Brady on the opening series after halftime.

Brandon Aiyuk’s 32-yard touchdown reception, for a 28-0 lead, came with Purdy willing to take a big hit after his throw. One snap earlier, a Bucs’ holding penalty nullified an interception. One drive earlier, the 49ers lost Samuel to a knee injury. The Bucs recovered Samuel’s fumble and marched to the 49ers’ 8-yard line, but incompletions by Brady on third- and fourth-and-goal kept the shutout intact.

Brady said of Purdy’s efforts: “He played really well. Threw a lot of good balls and hung in there (with the) blitz. They did a good job, really good job. Good job running it, good job throwing it. Really good job.”

Here is how the scoring drives played out:

49ers 35, Bucs 0: After Tashaun Gipson Sr. intercepted Brady on the opening series after halftime, Christian McCaffrey converted that takeaway into the 49ers’ fifth touchdown, with a 38-yard touchdown run.

49ers 28, Bucs 0: After the Bucs turned the ball over on downs at the 49ers’ 9-yard line, Purdy led one final touchdown drive before halftime, culminating with a 32-yard scoring strike to Aiyuk, and with Purdy willing to take a big hit after his throw. One snap earlier, a Bucs’ holding penalty nullified an interception. Aiyuk had a 25-yard catch earlier on the drive.

One drive earlier, the 49ers lost Samuel to a knee injury. The Bucs recovered Samuel’s fumble and marched to the 49ers’ 8-yard line, but incompletions by Brady on third- and fourth-and-goal kept the shutout intact.

49ers 21, Bucs 0: The 49ers’ third touchdown drive was, well a bit of an officiating mess. Purdy, in the face of an all-out blitz, lofted a 27-yard, third-and-5 pass to McCaffrey for an apparent touchdown. An officials’ review reversed that and claimed McCaffrey bobbled the ball and stepped out of bounds, but after an ensuing review, referee Brad Allen announced: “The original ruling on the field of a touchdown stands.” In the stands, Purdy’s father, Shawn, wiped away tears in joy, as captured by Fox Sports’ broadcast. The Bucs’ counterattack: a three-and-out drive.

49ers 14, Bucs 0: The 49ers’ second touchdown drive, which ended with a 2-yard scoring scramble by Purdy, was set up with contributions from their star-studded cast. In order: a 15-yard, play-action pass to Kittle; back-to-back 13-yard runs by McCaffrey; a 9-yard catch-and-run by Samuel; and, a pass-interference penalty in the end zone on Keanu Neal, who earlier provided the roughing penalty on the game’s opening snap. Down 14-0, the Bucs went three-and-out, with Arik Armstead hitting and landing on Brady as his third-down pass fell incomplete. Meanwhile, on the 49ers’ bench, Purdy looked at tablet while seated next to QB coach Brian Griese and with injured QB Trey Lance sitting on cooler in front of him.

49ers 7, Bucs 0: Only 2 minutes, 34 seconds into this one, the 49ers had a 7-0 lead. Samuel scored on a 13-yard run down the right sideline, after taking a pitch in I-formation and following the lead blocks of George Kittle and Trent Williams. Samuel raced past a trio of defenders on his sideline sprint and finished off safety Logan Ryan at the goal line.

That capped a succession of big plays – 15-yard, third-down conversion catch by Kittle, 21-yard run by McCaffrey – and a drive that started with a giant cringe. On Purdy’s opening snap as a NFL starter, he audibled, then got drilled for a front-side sack, only to be salvaged by a roughing penalty on safety Keanu Neal for his helmet-leading hit.

In the end, Purdy got credited with a touchdown on his first drive of a second straight game, having also done so in last Sunday’s relief appearance against Miami. The Bucs’ counterattack ended with a whimper: Ryan Succop’s 55-yard field-goal attempt fell way short, after Tom Brady’s third-down incompletion with him in Nick Bosa’s grasp.


A holding penalty nullified a 68-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Mike Evans on the Bucs’ second possession. With Nick Bosa resting on the sideline, Jordan Willis was held by Donovan Smith, and that rescued a coverage bust in which Talanoa Hufanga appeared to be the safety who left Evans uncovered. Such a deep shot, however, proved eerily reminiscent of the 49ers’ coverage breakdowns in their previous loss, six games ago against the Kansas City Chiefs. Another holding penalty, on Carlton Davis III, nullified a last-minute interception of a Purdy pass in Bucs’ territory.


Aside from Samuel’s ankle injury, here are the 49ers’ other reported casualties:

— Defensive tackle Kevin Givens limped off with an apparent left ankle injury after the Bucs’ third snap.

— Cornerback Dontae Johnson (knee) was ruled out in the third quarter after getting injured on kickoff coverage.

— Cornerback Samuel Womack III was evaluated for a head injury in the third quarter.

— Defensive lineman Kerry Hyder Jr. sustained an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter while pass rushing alongside Bosa.

— Defensive back Jimmie Ward needed medical attention after bringing down Brady on a third-quarter incompletion. Ward earlier was hit in the right ribs by Leonard Fournette’s block.

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