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49ers’ Purdy looks to capitalize on last season’s playoff experience

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy throws a pass to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk during the second half of a game, Dec. 31, in Landover, Md. Purdy remembers the tension when he stepped on the field for the first time in the playoffs as a seventh-round rookie last season with only a handful of games of experience.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy throws a pass to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk during the second half of a game, Dec. 31, in Landover, Md. Purdy remembers the tension when he stepped on the field for the first time in the playoffs as a seventh-round rookie last season with only a handful of games of experience.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. >> Brock Purdy remembers the tension when he stepped on the field for the first time in the playoffs as a seventh-round rookie last season with only a handful of games of experience.

Purdy returns to the postseason for the second time in his young career on Saturday night when his San Francisco 49ers host the Green Bay Packers in a divisional round game.

Purdy hopes to take the experience he gained last year to help him perform even better than he did in first try when an injury derailed his season.

“This year, being more familiar with the offense, who I am and all that, it’s a little different,” he said Wednesday. “It’s good to sort of watch the games from last year and sort of remember the feeling and the emotions of playing in a playoff game. It’s good. It’s huge for me as a quarterback to go back to those moments and remember what it feels like.”

The feeling last year was very good initially as Purdy threw for 332 yards and three TDs in a wild-card win against Seattle followed by an efficient, turnover-free performance the next week in a divisional round win over Dallas.

But things took a bad turn the following week in Philadelphia when Purdy got hit hard on his throwing arm by Haason Reddick on the opening drive of the game.

The hit led to a torn ligament in his elbow and essentially ended San Francisco’s hopes. Purdy was forced to return to the game in the second half after fourth-stringer Josh Johnson left with a concussion but was unable to throw the ball more than a few yards.

That led to a 31-7 loss for San Francisco, followed by offseason surgery for Purdy, months of rehabilitation and loads of questions about whether he would be hampered by the injury or if his first-year success was a fluke.

“It’s been a pretty quick year,” he said. “It feels like we were just in the playoffs, like we were just in Philly and all that. It’s gone fast.”

Purdy answered those doubters and now is ready for another playoff run that he hopes has a happier ending.

He became the first Niners quarterback in more than 20 years to throw for more than 4,000 yards (4,280) or at least 30 TDs (31). He led the NFL with a 113 passer rating and his 9.6 yards per attempt were the most in the NFL for a qualifying QB since Kurt Warner had 9.9 in 2000.

“I think it’d be unfair to Brock Purdy and the way he’s played since he’s been there to say, ‘Oh, he’s just playing good because he’s got great players around him,’ ” Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “It helps to have great pieces but any offense that has success, you instantly have to look at the triggerman. … You talk about from an efficiency standpoint, ever since he’s taken control of that huddle since he got his first start, the efficiency’s incredible.”

Purdy had few slipups this season but one did come on a big stage late in the season when San Francisco took on Baltimore in a Christmas night showdown between the top two teams in the NFL.

Purdy admitted the intensity of that game got to him early, as he forced a pass into coverage in the end zone on the opening drive that led to an interception. He threw three more interceptions that game as the 49ers lost 33-19.

Purdy said he learned from that experience but the Packers believe they saw an opening to defensive success too.

“Just got to get pressure on him, know what I’m saying,” defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt said. “When he’s throwing that ball (with pressure), it’s just off rhythm. I watched it a lot on film. When D-linemen just get pressure into him, he’s always throwing off or it’s behind them or it’s overthrown or short. There will be a lot of picks or stuff like that. So when you get pressure on him, it’s a guarantee we’ll get a turnover.”

NOTES: The Niners had only one player on the active roster miss practice Wednesday with DE Clelin Ferrell out this week with a knee injury. … LB Dre Greenlaw (Achilles) and S Logan Ryan (groin) returned on a limited basis. … DT Arik Armstead (foot, knee) and S George Odum (biceps) were full participants after being limited on Tuesday.

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