Stopping surging 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy presents a challenge for the Cowboys, but he has an Achilles' heel: an inability to hit targets who aren't wide-open.
According to CBS Sports, in a 41-23 wild-card round victory over Seattle, Purdy completed 9-of-20 passes when his targets didn't get five or more yards of separation. Purdy completed 9-of-10 passes when targets did get five or more yards.
The 49ers creating space is partially why the seventh-round pick out of Iowa State broke out. Per Next Gen Stats, four San Francisco wideouts average three or more yards of separation, the most in the league.
SF offense, nightmare to defend, esp w/ CMC..— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) January 17, 2023
49ers nearly have 4 qualifying targets who've averaged at least 3 yards of separation at time of catch (NGS):
No other team has more than 2 qualifying targets who fit this criteria
The Cowboys must take note because it gives defensive coordinator Dan Quinn a template he can use to stop Purdy, one that uses tight coverage against WRs.
Per The Atheltic's Ted Nguyen, Seattle focused on stopping San Francisco RB Christian McCaffrey, so it ran more spot coverage. Spot coverage is a concept where a player watches the QB and tries to break on the ball when he releases it instead of focusing on the WR's route.
It was Seattle's downfall. 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan used play-action to combat it, creating open targets for Purdy. Off play-action, he completed 8-of-13 passes, threw three TDs and posted a 145.0 passer rating.
Consequently, Dallas needs to avoid this scheme and run man-to-man coverage or other variations of zone coverage instead.
While it may leave them a little more susceptible to the run, slowing Purdy is a top priority. San Francisco is 6-0 with Purdy as its starter. The 49ers scored 30 points or more in five of his starts.
However, simply being aware of Purdy's tendencies give Dallas an edge.
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