Brock Purdy steps into San Francisco 49ers spotlight


SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Midway through the second quarter, while one of the most intense games of his six-year reign as 49ers coach was playing out on the Levi’s Stadium turf in front of him, coach Kyle Shanahan felt someone at his side, wanting to talk. It was head athletic trainer Dustin Little, waiting for a break in the action to brief Shanahan about starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo has a break in his foot, Little said.

“How long’s he out for?” Shanahan said.

“It’s probably six months, at least,” Little told Shanahan. “It’ll be the whole season.”

Shanahan went back to work. Miami 10, San Francisco 10. Tua Tagovailoa versus, now, Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, final pick in the 2022 draft.

Shanahan had a vital game to win, and a one-game lead in the NFC West to protect. He couldn’t tell the team, or his staff, that for the second time this year, their starting quarterback was now gone for the year. Particularly in this game, with the fastest and most explosive team in football on the other side of the field.

So he said nothing.

Afterward, he and three Niners players told me, basically, This is the life we’ve chosen. That’s one of the ways that, after Shanahan heard the news, his team was able to function like all was well. From the moment he heard the news, the Niners, and Brock Purdy, outscored Miami 23-7.

“Football is weird,” George Kittle told me afterward. “It’s a brutal, unforgiving sport. Saw Jimmy at halftime and he told me. That’s awful for your quarterback and your three-time captain. But you know, it’s kind of, ‘Well, that sucks, but we got a game to play.’ It’s like, We love you, and we’ll always love you, but we gotta go. See you after the game.


“It’s kinda the beautifulness and craziness of the sport, what happened today.”

What happened: This was a tragi-fantastic football game. Doesn’t sound like that, with a final of San Francisco 33, Miami 17, and a season-ending foot injury to Garoppolo, the unluckiest man in football. But the Niners led by six for 12 tense minutes in the fourth quarter, and then the floodgates opened, and it was a strange end to what for 57 minutes was a heart-pounder. It started like it’d be a Miami rout, with a 75-yard Tua Tagovailoa TD pass on the first offensive play of the game. But Tua handed the Niners 13 points, and they won by 16.

This, actually, was the best game of the season that vast swaths of the country did not see. Because this was a CBS doubleheader week and the national TV audience got a terrific Kansas City-Cincinnati game in the late window, this Fox telecast—Miami with the most explosive offense in football at San Francisco with the best defense in football—missed most of the country. It wasn’t seen on the Eastern Seaboard (Boston/New York/Philadelphia/Washington) or in New England, Tampa/St.Pete, Orlando, Los Angeles, the Pacific Northwest and most of the Midwest and Southwest.

So you saw the score, and you heard Garoppolo is gone (on the September heels of Trey Lance being lost for the year), and you wondered two things: Who is Brock Purdy? And is San Francisco’s season over?

He’s a kid. And the season positively is not over. I’ll tell you one play that blew me away, and blew Shanahan away too, that explains exactly why the season’s not kaput for the Niners.

I met with Purdy for a few minutes after the game. Looks like he’s 17. He’s 22, 6-1 (generously), needs a haircut, and seems oblivious to what he’s headed into. He talks like, Bring all that skepticism on. “A lot of people have said a lot of things about me like, I’m not good enough, this or that,” he said in a room off the locker room at Levi’s Stadium. “I just trust in God, and I’ll continue to do what I do—put my head down and go to work.”

Work this week means prepping for his first NFL start next Sunday. Against Tom Brady.

“Pretty cool,” he told me. “The GOAT. He’s been playing football longer than I’ve been alive.”

This is my 39th season covering the NFL, and one thing that I’ve never liked is making one play a metaphor for an entire game. One play rarely is. Games have 155 plays or so in them, and in this case, it was the San Francisco defense that stood out. But I’m picking a play by this neophyte quarterback to be a vital one. Maybe not the biggest of the day, but certainly the biggest for Purdy.

Let’s recap. Miami 10, San Francisco 10. Niners ball, third-and-10 at their 35-yard line, 79 seconds left in the half, the home team already knowing that they’ve lost their second starting quarterback of the year. Garoppolo got crushed by two Miami defenders four minutes into this game. For the last 56 minutes, Purdy had to earn an incredibly valuable save.

The key point was late in the first half, on that third-and-10. At the start of the play, eight Dolphins crowded the line, a clear sign that again they would pressure Purdy heavily at the snap. On the sidelines, Shanahan prayed that Purdy would recognize the blitz and call for an adjustment to tight end George Kittle’s route. He was the primary receiver on the play, but now the correct read was for an adjustment so that Kittle would cut off his post route a bit shorter. Enough to make the first down, but not enough for a huge gain. “We had to do something quicker because we knew we weren’t going to have the time,” Shanahan said.

It was about 80 minutes after the game now, and the locker room was empty. I talked to Shanahan as he sat at a locker and tried to explain why Purdy’s decision here was so significant.

“I thought this was Purdy’s play of the game,” I said.

“I did too,” Shanahan said. “Especially with what they were doing to us. They were coming after Brock and doing a good job of taking our quick throws away. This was a huge job of Brock signaling something to change the route [for Kittle].”

There is something that Shanahan and Purdy did not know. The average NFL pass this season has been thrown 2.74 seconds after the quarterback gets the ball in his hands. Purdy threw this pass in 1.72 seconds. In the NFL this season, only five times in 13 weeks had a quarterback completed a pass of at least 10 yards in 1.72 seconds or less, per NFL Next Gen stats. This was the sixth. As Purdy prepared to get hit by Jaelan Phillips, he threw a dart to Kittle, who caught and ran for a 19-yard gain. This means something because it shows Purdy recognized the defense, changed the ball, was willing to take a big hit, and he was skilled enough to complete a downfield pass with everything going on.

“Just showing the guys I’m willing to take one on the chin, willing to do what it takes to win,” Purdy said.

Five plays later, at the Miami three-yard line, Purdy threw for Christian McCaffrey in the end zone. Not a perfect throw, but a catchable one. McCaffrey dropped it. Next play, Purdy tried McCaffrey again. Touchdown.

“After the touchdown,” Purdy said, “Christian came to me and said, ‘Thanks for believing in me and trusting me to make the play.’ That’s pretty wild. I mean, saying that to me. I grew up watching him. Now, I’m on his team, throwing him a touchdown pass. Wild.”

Niners 17, Dolphins 10. It was never closer than six the rest of the way. Purdy finished 25-for-37 with 210 yards, 2 touchdown passes and an interception.

Tua Tagovailoa will beat himself up for his consecutive interceptions and his in-and-out accuracy. Understandable. He missed four or five big throws to open receivers. But he did hit TD bombs to Trent Sherfield and Tyreek Hill. This team would be nowhere without him. So he gets a pass, and should, on a wobbly day against a great defense. Miami flew to Los Angeles after the game to practice for next Sunday night’s game at the Chargers—they’ll practice at UCLA—before the finale of a three-game road trip, a huge Week 15 game at Buffalo. Mid-December at Buffalo for the Dolphins. Fun!

As for the Niners, it’s Brockball now.

“I know the question is, can I step in and continue this ride of what our team has done?” he said after the game. “It’s not just a one-man show or anything like that. What Jimmy did for this team was amazing in terms of getting it rolling and getting us on a streak to win. The challenge for me is like, man, can I step up in that position and continue to feed those guys? Get them the ball. Make the right checks in the run game. Allow the defense to play great and play with them. That’s the challenge for me and that’s how I look at it and I’m excited for it.”

“What impressed me about Brock in camp,” Shanahan said, “is he was always willing to let it rip. He’s decisive. He started for years [at Iowa State] at a high level. You gotta have some balls to play quarterback in this league, and he does. We think we’ll have a chance with him.”

I think San Francisco’s Super Bowl chances got severely diminished Sunday. Hard to imagine Purdy walking into Lincoln Financial Field on Jan. 18 or 25 and winning a division or championship game against the steamrolling Eagles.

But Purdy won’t be afraid. And a guy who won’t give the ball away, playing with the defense, should make it interesting down the stretch. This season’s over for the cursed Garoppolo, but certainly not for the 49ers.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!