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49ers-Cowboys: Micah Parsons wants to know if Brock Purdy can execute a comeback

49ers-Cowboys: Micah Parsons wants to know if Brock Purdy can execute a comeback

SANTA CLARA — A generation after Joe Montana launched the 49ers’ dynasty with a fourth-quarter comeback over the Dallas Cowboys in “The Catch” game for the NFC crown, inquiring minds want to know if Brock Purdy can do the same in Sunday night’s regular-season showcase.

Well, at least one guy still wants to know: Micah Parsons, who leads the Dallas Cowboys (3-1) up against Purdy and the 49ers (4-0) at Levi’s Stadium.

“There are still things we want to see from Purdy, not when Purdy is winning, but when Purdy is down,” Parsons said last month on his Bleacher Report show. “The adversity aspect of the football game is huge, learning how to play from behind, learning how to play situational football.

“I’m not saying he can’t do it,” Parsons added. “It’s something we haven’t seen yet.”

It’s something Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones could not do in lopsided losses to Dallas this season for the New York Giants (40-0 loss), New York Jets (30-10) and the New England Patriots (38-3).

Purdy, meanwhile, keeps putting the 49ers in a high-scoring position, where they haven’t had to rally much once he replaced an injured Jimmy Garoppolo last Dec. 4.

San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Brock Purdy (13) walks onto the field following their 35-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Since then, he’s only dealt with a fourth-quarter deficit for 3 1/2 minutes as the 49ers’ quarterback, and that came in a Jan. 1 overtime win at Las Vegas. That excludes the NFC Championship Game loss in Philadelphia where Purdy’s elbow ligament was torn, though he did try to play through it and produced his only career completion when trailing in the fourth quarter (a 1-yard pass to George Kittle.)

Three weeks later, Purdy and the 49ers trailed 6-3 in the first half to the visiting Cowboys in the divisional playoffs. Christian McCaffrey’s 2-yard touchdown run opened the fourth quarter and put the 49ers ahead 16-0. That score capped a 91-yard drive which was ignited by George Kittle making a bobbling 30-yard catch at midfield.

Trailing Sunday against the Cowboys is not the 49ers’ desired path to win a 15th straight regular-season game.

“When you get in some bad situations, that D-line is tough to handle, and you can make mistakes,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You’ve got to get rid of it quick, sometimes before you’re ready. … When you’re behind the chains, not just Sunday, but in the last three years, they’re as good as any, when they’ve got you one-dimensional in creating turnovers and getting after the quarterback.”

In Sunday’s 35-12 victory over Arizona, Purdy went 20-of-21 for a franchise-record 95.2 completion percentage, while unloading the ball in an average of 2.67 seconds. He has thrown 211 consecutive passes without being intercepted, a streak 38 shy of Alex Smith’s 49ers record that was set in 2011-12; Purdy already surpassed the longest streaks of Steve Young (184, in 1993) and Montana (154, in 1989).

Parsons was sold on him long before Sunday’s air show. “Purdy, you will not be slept on no more, brother,” Parsons said after the 49ers’ 30-7 season opener at Pittsburgh. “Yes, you are surrounded by a great team, but you are playing your butt off. You have one hell of a story, brother.”

Parsons did not have a sack against the 49ers to end his first two NFL seasons, in the 2021 wild-card and 2022 divisional playoffs. This season, Parsons has four of Dallas’ 14 sacks. He briefly left Sunday’s game with a knee injury.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – JANUARY 16: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys attempts to tackle Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Here is Nick Bosa’s scouting report on Parsons: “He’s very comfortable all over the line. Obviously gifted athletically, more so than anybody but maybe (the Browns’) Myles Garrett. Just acceleration. Plays he shouldn’t make, he makes.”

“He’s like a Nick Bosa here,” said cornerback Anthony Brown, who played seven seasons in Dallas before joining the 49ers last month. “He gets it going up front and makes the ball come out quicker for the DBs on the back end.”

Parsons is eligible for a contract extension after this season, so he stands to benefit from 49ers counterpart Nick Bosa’s record-setting deal in Week 1 (five years, $170 million).  “I am not Nick Bosa. I am not in Nick Bosa’s shoes,” Parsons said on his show last month. “I have to go out there and earn my own right to say I’m the best defensive player in the league. Some may say I am. But the humility in me and the fact is I have not won a Defensive Player of the Year yet … Yes, I’m talented, I am hungry to go get it, but the fact is I have to go get it myself.”

PRACTICE NOTES

Running back Christian McCaffrey and left tackle Trent Williams got Wednesday’s practice off to rest. Wide receivers Deebo Samuel (knee, ribs) and Jauan Jennings (shin) were limited.

Not practicing were cornerback Charvarius Ward (heel), running back Elijah Mitchell (knee), linebacker Dre Greenlaw (ankle) and offensive lineman Jon Feliciano (concussion).

Running back Jeremy McNichols and offensive lineman Ilm Manning were re-signed to the practice squad, replacing fullback Jack Colletto and defensive lineman Marlon Davidson, who were released.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

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A day after a Cowboys assistant said they’d debrief third-string quarterback Trey Lance for intel about the 49ers, Bosa somewhat laughed it off. “We have an idea of what we’re going to do, and they have Trey, so I’m sure they have an idea,” Bosa said. “The NFL is a copycat league and everybody knows pretty much about everything.”

Brown, the former Cowboys cornerback, agreed as he spoke at his 49ers locker: “They (the 49ers) already know everything. They beat us (the Cowboys) twice the last two years. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing.” Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, however, said he’d “for sure” talk to Brown about the Cowboys during Wednesday’s practice.

McCAFFREY’S HONORS

McCaffrey won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, and for the third time in four games, he won fans’ votes as FedEx’s top rusher. Prior to Sunday’s four touchdowns and 177 yards (106 rushing, 71 receiving), he won NFC monthly honors for September’s three-game combination, and he leads NFL rushers in yards (459), carries (80) and touchdowns (six; tied with Miami’s Raheem Mostert).

A calf injury hindered McCaffrey in last season’s 19-12 divisional playoff win over the Cowboys, when he had 35 rushing yards (10 carries) and 22 receiving yards (six catches). He had a similar workload the only other time he faced Dallas, in a 2018 home win with Carolina (10 carries, 50 yards; six catches, 45 yards).