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Brock Purdy, 49ers Should Be NFC Favorites after SNF Blowout

By nearly every metric, the Dallas Cowboys were one of the best teams in the NFL heading into Week 5. They were No. 2 in point differential after four games, after back-to-back 12-win seasons under coach Mike McCarthy. There was nothing to suggest that the Cowboys weren't a near-lock to make the postseason again this year.

None of that mattered when they played the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. In arguably the most hyped game of the season, the 49ers destroyed the Cowboys, 42-10. But the final score doesn't indicate how badly the 49ers beat the Cowboys. 

After the first quarter, the Cowboys had six yards of offense. In the first half, the Cowboys failed to gain a first down on six of their seven drives. San Francisco held Dallas to eight first downs and 10 points. It was one of the Cowboys' worst offensive outputs in recent memory, and Dallas turned the ball over four times.

The reason the 49ers are the NFC favorites isn't because of their defense. We knew that unit would be excellent after they finished 2022 as the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL. It's a loaded unit with the reigning Defensive Player of The Year in Nick Bosa. They are the favorites because of their offense, which has completely taken off in Year 2 under Brock Purdy.

Purdy-Led Offense Makes 49ers Special

In the first 11 games of the 2022 season, the 49ers averaged 22.6 points per game with QBs Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. Their offense was near league average despite having a litany of playmakers. But as soon as Purdy entered the lineup, the offense took off. In the season's final six games, it averaged 33.5 points per game.

They are on the same pace this season, averaging 33.4 points per game. The 49ers have scored at least 30 points in all five games, and it’s all because Kyle Shanahan has finally found a quarterback who will execute his offense the way it was designed. 

That was fully on display in Week 5 as Purdy made every single clutch throw that was asked of him. Were some of them wide open? Absolutely. But he made every throw and did so with confidence. There were even multiple other throws in the game where he was able to layer the ball over the linebackers and in front of the safeties for big gains to Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. More importantly, he never made a big mistake. 

We’ve seen other quarterbacks be successful in Shanahan’s offense. Garoppolo won a lot of games as a 49er, going 38-17 in 55 starts. But there are two big differences between Garoppolo and Purdy. 

Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers

What Separates Purdy?

One of the differences is the turnovers. In 10 career starts, Purdy has thrown two interceptions. He has not been intercepted this season. It’s also worth mentioning that Purdy did not have an interception during three postseason games last season. 

Garoppolo wasn’t a turnover machine in San Francisco, but he threw 42 interceptions in 55 starts for the 49ers. Not terrible, but not great either. His pitfall was he had 28 fumbles, which is a pretty high number for 55 starts. Again, these aren't huge turnover numbers, but they are not insignificant either.

Consistency is the biggest difference between Purdy and the other quarterbacks in this San Francisco system. We've seen Garoppolo (and others) have big performances only to have letdowns the following week. Garoppolo had a passer rating of less than 90 in 36.3 percent of his starts. Basically, he would have a poor performance every third game on average.

That has yet to be the case for Purdy, who does not have a game with a passer rating below 93.0 in the regular season. In 10 career starts, he's had eight games with a passer rating of 110 or better. He consistently plays at a high level, allowing the 49ers to score 30-plus points in all but one of his starts. He doesn't make mistakes and keeps the offense running on schedule. That's what good quarterbacks should do.

NFC, Take Note

The 49ers officially have a quarterback. We can certainly debate where Purdy ranks among the rest of the league and how much of his success is a byproduct of Shanahan. But they’ve officially put the rest of the NFC on notice. Not only is this the best team in the NFC after five games, it is the best team in the NFL. A strong case could be made that it is on their its tier. 

The schedule gets tougher for the 49ers, and they'll take on the Eagles later in the year. But with how they played in Week 5, it may not matter who they face. This team is a juggernaut, and it would be quite a surprise if it wasn't in the NFC Championship again this season.

Make no mistake: the 49ers are the clear-cut top team in the NFC right now, and no one is catching them any time soon. 

Marcus Mosher is an NFL writer with a decade of experience in podcasting and writing for various NFL websites, including Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus and The Athletic. He is currently a managing editor at USA Today Sports Media Group and the host of the Locked On Cowboys Podcast. Marcus has been working full-time covering the NFL since 2015 and works as a betting expert for You can follow him at @Marcus_Mosher.