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SANTA CLARA — Another week, another three-phase, blowout win for the 49ers.
This time, it was a 37-20 win over the Washington Commanders.
Winning is becoming a trend for the Niners with rookie, last-pick-in-the-draft Brock Purdy at the helm of the team’s offense.
It’s now four-straight wins for the Niners with Purdy at quarterback.
And it’s all part of the team’s eight-game winning streak, San Francisco’s longest since the 2019 season, which ended with them playing in the Super Bowl.
The way this team is playing, there’s every reason to believe the 2022 49ers can play in the Super Bowl, too.
This is not normal.
What’s happening here is special. It’s fairy tale. This is phenomenal and a phenomenon.
If the Niners reach the Super Bowl, that would be 13 straight wins. If they win it? Well, that would be the ultimate winning streak.
This unexpected but completely earned success leaves the 49ers in an enviable but strange place heading into the final two games of the regular season.
This team might be too good for its own good.
We’re at the point where the Niners might not be against playing poorly in one of those final two contests — if only for a few quarters.
We know this defense is historically great. We know the skill position players are elite. We know the special teams can get it done.
We also know that Purdy is executing this offense like a 10-year veteran, not the kid who was effectively the emergency quarterback.
But we still know so little about Purdy, and ergo, the Niners.
The last two times the 49ers have knocked on the door of a championship — 2019 and last season’s run to the NFC Championship Game — the season has been put on their quarterback’s shoulders. Such is the nature of the modern game.
Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t able to get the job done.
Maybe? Probably? The Iowa State product has been so crisp, so poised, and so steady, that nothing seems out of the question for him at this point.
The truth is, as greedy as it might be to ask Purdy to win games for this team, we don’t know if he has that ability. And so long as the 49ers team around him keeps playing the way its currently playing, we might not find the answer to that critical question until the biggest moments of the biggest game.
Who’s to say?
Four games into Purdy’s career as the Niners’ QB1, he has only played from behind for four-and-a-half minutes — all of which came in the first quarter of his first game.
That’s why the 49ers might not mind having to see Purdy play from behind in the next two weeks — they’ll play in Las Vegas on New Year’s Day and close the season at Levi’s Stadium against the Cardinals — just to understand what he can and cannot do under such circumstances.
There is also the chance that this incredible run will keep rolling for five, six, or seven more weeks.
After all, this team makes it all look so easy — even with a third-string quarterback. Offense, defense, and special teams — every phase of Niners football is clicking.
The Niners’ most significant concern in Saturday’s game was red-zone offense — they kicked fourth-quarter field goals from Washington’s 8, 5, and 17-yard lines.
After that, the biggest concern legitimately might have been offensive players intercepting their own team’s passes — one of George Kittle’s touchdown catches was intended for receiver Ray-Ray McCloud. Both were so open that Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan was concerned they run into each other going for the ball.
Kittle said he “Grinched it.”
The 49ers will face much stiffer concerns than that come the playoffs. Even fairy tales have climatic moments of stress.
Then again, the Niners just faced four playoff teams in a row. They blew three of them out and beat the other in a fashion that was not adequately reflected in the final margin.
In an NFC that looks unimpressive; in a league that appears as wide open as it has been in years, these Niners might simply be on a level above their peers. Yes, even with Purdy. Perhaps because of Purdy.
What’s to say the Niners can keep up this incredible play?
What’s to say they can’t?
Kurtenbach: The 49ers — winners of eight straight games — might be too good for their own good
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