Familiarity gets a bad rap.

There’s an old adage that it breeds contempt, but I disagree. It can take some time to see beauty. It may escape your gaze at first, but over the days, months and even years you start to notice the little things that bring out appreciation. Even love, dare I say.

I could be speaking about myself. I’ll admit that I’m a slow burn. Maybe you find me awkward or weird looking at first glance. But after time, you’ll think to yourself, “hey, this guy’s alright. In moderation.”

Which brings me to Brock Purdy.

I wasn’t an early convert. I know people who said they saw greatness from the 49ers’ second-year quarterback right away. I was more cautious. Sure, he won a bunch of starts in his first year, but I brushed that off. He’s under Kyle Shanahan, I said. He’s being set up to succeed with easy throws. His offensive line is great. He has solid receiving weapons.

And I felt strongly that with an entire offseason to break down film, defensive coordinators around the league would find the formula that would send Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, back to relative obscurity.

Then this season started and he didn’t throw an interception until Week 6. Go through the game logs and you’ll see that he had a QB rating of 100 or better 10 times. He threw for 4,280 yards and 31 touchdowns. And yes, he does have the benefit of playing behind a solid line and superior receiving talent, but he’ll make 2-3 throws per game that will genuinely impress. Throws that win pro bowl and all-pro nods. Throws that can win a Super Bowl and maybe even an MVP award.

I have an example from the Niners’ divisional round win over the Packers. Purdy, by most accounts, didn’t have the best game of his career last Saturday night. But with San Francisco down by four points in bad weather and facing a third-and-5 with less than four minutes left, he threaded the needle beautifully to Brandon Aiyuk.


Watching it on the FOX broadcast didn’t give you the true beauty of that throw. You had to see it from the angle behind Purdy to understand it. You can’t coach that type of accuracy. There’s no way to gimmick it with fancy schemes. You either have it or you don’t. Tom Brady makes that throw. So does Joe Montana. And before you jump down my throat and shout, “OH! Brocky Purdy is Joe Montana now?!” take a step back. How do you know he won’t be? Montana was a third-round draft pick. Brady was a sixth-rounder. Greatness can come from anywhere if it’s allowed to show itself.

And of course, Purdy ended up leading the Niners to the go-ahead touchdown and the eventual victory. People have been waiting to destroy him ever since he made his first start. And ever since, he’s silenced the doubters, despite having a few rocky moments. All great quarterbacks do.

There’s a famous quote from the movie “Training Day.” It goes: “You gotta control your smiles and cries, because that’s all you have and nobody can take that away from you.”

It’s true that you do have your smiles and cries, but I’d add wins to that list. If you’re in the NFL, nobody can take a win away from you. And Purdy keeps winning. That’s all that matters.

OK, let’s move on.


Welcome to L.A.: The Chargers came through with a bombshell on Wednesday when they hired Jim Harbaugh. He’s the best candidate out there and he will change the culture immediately. The Chargers need toughness and Harbaugh has that in spades. It might take a year or so to get the roster exactly where he wants it, but I expect to see dividends right away.

Nobody is interested? Bill Belichick hasn’t been hired yet. In fact, he’s only had one interview, and that was with the Falcons. What’s going on? Is it an age thing? Does his gruff reputation scare other owners? Not sure what’s happening, but I would have lost money betting the under on the length of his unemployment. Very weird.

I was wrong: I remember complaining in this space earlier this season about Taylor Swift dating Travis Kelce. That’s because in addition to my many wonderful qualities that people grow to appreciate over time, I’m also a meathead. And my meatheadedness reared its meaty head back then and I regret that. Her presence is good for the league and even if it wasn’t, what does it matter? She’s just a person who attends games. I’ll be better, I promise.

What else can they do? If the Bills have a white whale, it’s the Chiefs. Buffalo has faced Kansas City in the playoffs three out of the last four years and have lost every one. And what happened on Sunday night was the most disheartening. The Bills had the game in their own building and the Chiefs weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire over the last month. If they were going to win, this was the time. And … nope. Unforced errors, bad decisions and missed opportunities led to yet another failure. And I’m not sure what they can do going forward. Would a coaching change help? Maybe. Would adding more talent make a difference? Sure, I guess. Buffalo did have bad luck with injuries on defense this season, but who’s to say that won’t happen again next time? Being a Bills fan must be awful.


Chiefs at Ravens, 3 p.m. ET

This should be Lamar Jackson’s coronation. He’s in line for his second MVP award and can top that off with a Super Bowl berth and possibly a championship. The only thing standing in his way is Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

And this is why getting the No. 1 seed is so important. Jackson won’t have any trouble communicating as he directs an offense that led the league in rushing. And Baltimore will want to run the ball and control the clock in the hopes of tiring the Chiefs defense out. They can lean on opponents with the best of them, as was evidenced in the divisional round when the Ravens outscored the Texans 24-0 in the second half. Kansas City’s defense won’t wilt that easily as they were second in the league in points allowed per game. If everything goes the Ravens’ way, the fourth quarter is when we’ll see their game plan come to fruition.

That being said, it’s Baltimore’s defense who will have to step up. They led the league in sacks and takeaways and also allowed the fewest points per game. And while that will impress teams like the Jaguars and the Titans, their opponent on Sunday won’t be fazed. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have won five straight playoff games and won’t be intimidated by the situation. Even if the weather is bad. The forecast says there will be a 40 percent chance of rain with temperatures in the mid-40s.

But check out the last AFC championship games Mahomes has played, courtesy of the Kansas City Star:

Patriots at Chiefs, Jan. 20, 2019: 19 degrees
Titans at Chiefs, Jan. 19, 2020: 17 degrees
Bills at Chiefs, Jan. 24, 2021: 40 degrees
Bengals at Chiefs, Jan. 30, 2022: 41 degrees
Bengals at Chiefs, Jan. 29, 2023: 22 degrees

No big deal.

And for the love of god, if the Ravens want to reach the Super Bowl, they have to cut off Travis Kelce. Everyone knows who Mahomes wants to throw to and Kelce still somehow caught two touchdown passes against the Bills. Let someone else beat you. Anyone. If it’s Rashee Rice (177 receiving yards last week), fine. Isaiah Pacheco (97 yards rushing against Buffalo), that’s cool. Just not Kelce.

Baltimore is favored by 3.5 points. I think they get it done.

Winner: Ravens.

Lions at 49ers, Sunday 6:30 p.m. ET

One thing stood out in the Packers-49ers game. Green Bay had success running the ball, gaining 136 yards. Aaron Jones led the way with 108 and had a long of 53 yards. That was interesting. The Packers did exactly what they were supposed to do in order to win, but they couldn’t close it out.

Detroit has that thunder-and-lightning combo in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs that can keep pressure on San Francisco to stay honest with the run game. This will help limit the 49ers’ ability to tee off on rushing the passer, which is exactly what the Lions want.

That’s because they have Jared Goff under center. He’s unquestionably had a great year. He was among the league leaders in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. He was also one of the least-sacked quarterbacks, which goes to show that if you give Goff time, he will pick you apart.

That being said, I need to remind you that he’s had a hard time against the 49ers over his career. This is where his Rams past could come back to haunt him. Kyle Shanahan knows Goff very well and has beaten him four straight times and did so by forcing Goff into making critical mistakes. We’ve seen Bad Jared rear his head a couple times this season and if that happens on Sunday, look out.

As far as the 49ers offense goes, they’ll need someone to step up if receiver Deebo Samuel can’t play due to a shoulder injury. They got that against the Packers as Juwan Johnson caught a team-high five passes for 61 yards. If you can get a performance like that along with some clutch play from Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and the always reliable Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco won’t have much to worry about.

It was raining last week. The weather in the Bay Area is supposed to be beautiful on Sunday. The 49ers are favored by 7 points. I think the Lions can cover, but I don’t think they’ll be able to pull it off.

Winner: 49ers.


Enjoy the games!

Sid Saraf
Sid Saraf

NFL Analyst

Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 – Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 – Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.