Brock Purdy magic, 49ers’ selflessness key in Wild Card win


The most impressive part about watching the Niners, who haven’t lost in 12 weeks, is obviously that a third-string quarterback, Brock Purdy, has won seven straight games. (He played all but four minutes of his first game, a win over Miami, after replacing Jimmy Garoppolo, and has won six starts since then.) There’s also the small matter of the 49ers having the best defense in football. But there’s something else that surfaced often in the Wild Card win over Seattle.


On Deebo Samuel’s 74-yard TD catch early in the fourth quarter, fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk engaged rookie corner Tariq Woolen of the Seahawks down the left side, paving the way for Samuel. Aiyuk blocked Woolen for 5.78 seconds, per my iPhone stopwatch. This is one of the things you hear when you’re around the Niners: Everyone blocks. No one matadors it.

“What I love about this team,” tight end George Kittle said afterward, “is we have so many fantastic football players that are great at YAC [yards after the catch] so when one of our best players gets the ball, every other guy wants to block for him. You can see the effort on film. If you noticed, Aiyuk’s block was smart—no holding, kept his hands inside. That’s how our whole team is built.”

Same with a cutback run by Christian McCaffrey earlier in the game. Look who was in the middle of the fray as McCaffrey, looking to be stopped for a loss of one or two yards running wide left, cut back against the grain to fight for nine. Kittle was in the middle of it, jousting with a Seahawk. It’s hard in today’s football, which doesn’t reward all-around play in headlines or oft-times in contract negotiations, to tell the Aiyuks and Kittles: You block, and you block great, or you don’t play. But that’s a message Kyle Shanahan has gotten across in his tenure, and it showed up against Seattle.

The Niners’ ethos was on display in this game. You know what Victory Monday is in the NFL? The regular off-day for most teams is Tuesday, if they’re playing the following Sunday. After a win, many coaches give the players Victory Monday, or an extra day off, and will tell their players, See you Wednesday morning. The Niners, evidently, have many players who don’t want the extra day off. After the Wild Card win, on the 49ers radio network, veteran fullback Kyle Juszczyk said: “We’ve had a few Victory Mondays now, and I come in on Mondays, and I can’t find a parking spot.”

Now to Purdy. I thought the most amazing play he made in this game was an incompletion on a scramble drill. On a third down from the Seattle 13- with five minutes left in the game, he took a shotgun snap, surveyed the secondary, found no one open, scrambled left, found no one open, sprinted right, waited and waited and, 11.8 seconds after taking the snap, fired to Aiyuk in the right corner of the end zone; he got both hands on it while toe-tapping the end line but couldn’t hold on. A magnificent play. Kittle had the same thought I did: All those games at Iowa State, 48 of them in a Power Five conference, made a very big difference in Purdy the 2022 NFLer.

(Michael Owens/Getty Images)

“I think Brock’s experience in college really helped him today,” Kittle said. “Everything didn’t go well in the first half, but he came out in the second half and was totally confident in the huddle. You could feel it. When he’s confident, we’re confident, and he just makes us play at a higher level. He’s been in a little trouble at halftime before. A lot of times, probably. He’s played from behind before; he’s played from ahead before. He has all the repetitions. Failure is a big part of learning to play quarterback in the NFL, and he had success and failure in college, so nothing here is really new for him.

“Football humbles you a lot. I think when you’ve been humbled in college, you kind of realize how hard football is and you realize what it takes to win. I think Brock has realized that—and he realizes failing is good for you on the road to success.”

I could not have said that better. Losing in Austin at age 18, in Stillwater at age 19, in Norman at age 20, in Iowa City at age 21—but also winning 29 college games in four Big 12 seasons—gave Purdy the kind of pedigree that makes it possible for him to act like he’s been there. “What’s crazy to me is where he was drafted,” safety Jimmie Ward said on the Niners’ post-game radio show. “Was it because he’s a little short? His hand size? You gotta draft people for being players. This guy’s a dog.”

Ward meant that affectionately. As the Niners advance to the NFL’s elite eight, no one’s arguing.

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!