Cam Newton thinks 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy is a “game manager,” but the Ravens don't see that when they flipped on the tape this week.
Baltimore's defenders and Head Coach John Harbaugh praised Purdy Wednesday when speaking about all the 49ers quarterback can do ahead of Monday night's Christmas showdown in San Francisco.
"I see a very good quarterback. He's playing at a very high level, leading a very high-level offense to great success. He's playing winning football and operates his style," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"He sees things. He gets the ball out quick. He can make every throw. He throws a beautiful ball [and] moves around the pocket, scrambles when he needs to, throws on the run when he needs to [and] operates the system really well – all the things that I'm sure their coaches really want to see in a quarterback."
Purdy has the second-most passing yards (3,795) and leads the league in passing touchdowns (29) and quarterback rating (119.0).
Yes, Purdy has excellent weapons around him in wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, an All-Pro running back in Christian McCaffrey, one of the best tight ends in George Kittle, and a future Hall of Fame left tackle in Trent Williams.
He's in one of the league's most dynamic offensive schemes, with a great play-caller in Kyle Shanahan as his head coach.
But Purdy is the one making the whole operation run on the field, delivering the ball to those playmakers. And he's doing it at a high level.
"The word around the league is he's a system quarterback. I think that's not true," safety Kyle Hamilton said Wednesday. "From what I've seen, he's making every throw you can make as a quarterback – on time, on target. He makes good decisions. He's mobile. He's got a great cast around him at the same time, but he's really good."
Part of the reason may be Purdy's backstory. He was the last pick (Mr. Irrelevant) of last year's draft, coming out of Iowa State. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, he doesn't have the prototype size of an NFL quarterback.
The Ravens have a quarterback who doesn't check the typical boxes either, and they've won a lot of games with him. The 49ers are doing the same.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey said the "hate" Purdy is getting "really surprised me."
"When you put on the film, he's putting throws right where he needs to be, he's reading coverages. He does a lot of good things," Humphrey said. "He's a guy that likes to give his receivers a chance. For such a young guy, he really handles himself like a pro. There won't be many gimme interceptions, but we'll try to take our chances when we can."
Whichever quarterback wins Monday night's game will likely leap to the front of the MVP conversation.
"I heard he's the MVP frontrunner, but I know my real MVP frontrunner is in this locker room here," defensive tackle Justin Madubuike said, referring to Lamar Jackson.
"At the end of the day, [Purdy] is a good quarterback. He has a good team. He's doing good things on film. But he hasn't seen us yet. So we'll see on Christmas."
A Super Bowl Preview? Lamar Isn't Buying It
Monday night's game is already being billed as a potential Super Bowl preview – a matchup of the two best teams in their respective conferences who both sit at 11-3.
Lamar Jackson has had his sights set on hoisting a Lombardi, and he isn't buying into any preview hype.
"[The] Super Bowl is in February," Jackson said. "We're in December right now. We have to focus on Monday night. I'm not worried about what people are saying."
Humphrey said he expects it to be "the game of the year" and expects a very good matchup.
"Shoot, you have to take it one game at a time," Humphrey said. "But if this could be a rematch in the Super Bowl I would love it. That would mean we took care of business and got there. But for right now it's just good to have a very good challenge on Monday. We're really excited for that."
Ben Mason Signed to Practice Squad; Travis Vokolek Signs With Cardinals
The Ravens have re-signed fullback/tight end Ben Mason to the practice squad, replacing tight end Travis Vokolek who was signed by the Cardinals.
This is Mason's third stint with the Ravens, who drafted him in 2021 as a fifth-round pick from Michigan. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad before being released. He was re-signed to the practice squad for the 2022 season, and he was part of this year's practice squad before his release on Sept. 26.
Vokolek was an undrafted rookie from Nebraska who signed with the Ravens and caught two touchdown passes in Baltimore's preseason finale against the Commanders. He did not see game action this season, and will join the active roster of the Cardinals, who placed tight end Geoff Swaim (calf) on season-ending injured reserve.
Beating the 49ers Would Satisfy Ravens' Christmas Wish List
Marlon Humphrey said the players received an early Christmas gift from Head Coach John Harbaugh, who gave them a Godzilla-themed pinball machine for the locker room. Humphrey added that some of his younger teammates didn't know what a pinball machine was.
Harbaugh was asked what was on his Christmas list.
"Life is always better when you win," Harbaugh said. "World peace and a win. I'm not sure in that order."
Technical Difficulties Didn't Fluster Lamar Jackson
Jackson's poise has been displayed numerous times this season, and it happened again on Baltimore's opening drive Sunday night when the headphones in his helmet stopped working. Jackson couldn't hear the plays being called by Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, so Quarterback Coach Tee Martin began relaying hand signals to Jackson from the sideline. Jackson calmly led an 11 play, 64-yard drive that ended with a Justin Tucker 43-yard field goal.
The term "game manager" has taken on a negative connotation, but managing the operation of the game is something that Harbaugh has often praised Jackson for, as shown Sunday night.
"He was operating with Tee basically signaling the signals, like sign language," Harbaugh said. "I didn't know Lamar knew sign language. They have their own sign language.
"Lamar still kept it smooth, operated without any additional panic. He's got a real flair for being calm in those types of situations."
Jackson downplayed the difficulty of the situation.
"It wasn't really stress. The headphones just went out," Jackson said. "I was just trying to get a number on the wristband. I think I was calling my own plays, pretty much, because I was calling the wrong numbers off the wristband. And we were just moving the ball, so it worked in our favor. To be honest, it was cool. I managed it well."
Jake Funk Thankful for Opportunity With Ravens
For Jake Funk, a former star running back at Maryland and Damascus High, being signed to the Ravens' practice squad during Christmas week is a dream come true. Funk said his mom was particularly happy to see him join the Ravens.
"My mom was extremely, just very joyful that I could be home for the holidays with her," Funk said. "My dad just recently passed away here in this last summer, so being able to come for her first holidays home alone is something that is super special to me, and I'm very thankful for it."
Joining the Ravens reunites Funk with Odell Beckham Jr., who was a teammate during Funk's rookie season in 2021 when they won the Super Bowl.
"We spent a good amount of time together in , and he's somebody that I have a lot of love for," Funk said.
Funk was planning to go work out somewhere else when the Ravens called and offered him the same opportunity following Keaton Mitchell's season-ending knee injury. A homecoming was too good to pass up.
"It was a no brainer to come show what I can do and get a chance to maybe get signed," Funk said.