Murph: How concerned should you be about your beloved 49ers?

© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

‘Concern’ is a word that can be used in relative circumstances, ranging from:

  1. I’m concerned at the dire strait of mankind on this cold, dark rock spinning through outer space;


B) I’m concerned that tomorrow is Friday and my fridge is out of beer.

Both uses of the word are honest. And both are relative.

Which leads us to the topic of this week’s Jock Blog:

Are you concerned about the 2023 49ers? And if so, how concerned are you?

I can’t even believe this is a topic. Literally two weeks ago, the 1972 Miami Dolphins were concerned the Santa Clara McCaffreys were coming for their unblemished record. Two weeks later, the Jock Blog is hosing down a burning building of red-and-gold concern.

The NFL comes at ya fast.

The word ‘concern’ came at me when KNBR contributor, NBC Sports Bay Area analyst and former 49ers bone-rattling safety Donte Whitner said after Monday night’s loss that he was “very, very concerned” about the direction of the 49ers after two straight losses marked by an absent pass rush, soft secondary coverage, key turnovers from the formerly perfect QB and key injuries to a top-heavy team.

Someone cue up 21 Pilots’ ditty called “Level of Concern” — Donte has a few new lyrics to add.

Of course, there is an entirely different tack out there. Our good pal, (Gentleman) Jim Nantz came on our airwaves on Tuesday and told us, in his soothing manner and tone, essentially, to “(blankin’) relax, would ya???” Nantz’s point — that two close road losses in a long NFL season is pretty much how the NFL works, and overreacting is the province of the mentally weak — was sound, but doesn’t make for a compelling Jock Blog.

Back to the concern.

On Wednesday, we got the news that Brock Purdy is in concussion protocol, and now the concern moved into the danger zone. Not that 49ers fans don’t trust Sam Darnold — after all, Kyle Shanahan loved him some Sam so much, he shipped the Chosen One, Trey Lance, to the Dallas Cowboys without so much as a care package — it’s just that . . . well, maybe 49ers fans don’t know how to trust Sam Darnold.

The Cincinnati Bengals are coming to town, on a two-game win streak (over NFC West teams no less) and with the added fuel of a bye week. The Bengals, in case you forgot, are an AFC powerhouse that spent the past two years winning an AFC Championship and nearly making it two in a row until an unfortunate late-hit penalty prevented Joe Burrow from officially taking up residence at Arrowhead Stadium, way before Taylor Swift even knew who Lenny Dawson was.

This is getting serious. Like, concerningly serious.

Now, as of this scribbling, Purdy has not been ruled out for Sunday. Everyone’s favorite Alaska Airlines pitchman could make it back, be his steady-eddie self at Levi’s, and calm the waters with a zero-pick day and a home win that would make for a reassuring 6-2 record going into the bye week.

But there is little certainty he can play, and Darnold could be the dude, and now you’re looking up that YouTube clip where he got caught on mic saying he’s seeing “ghosts” on defense. Now your concern-o-meter is heading back into red territory.

And that’s all without even mentioning Nick Bosa’s post-contract sack slump.

Sorry to go there.

So, Sunday, October 29, 2023, Week 8 in the NFL suddenly becomes sort of a big deal for the 49ers. They are tied in the loss column with the dastardly Seattle Seahawks who, like a persistent and unsightly rash that does not respond to balm, refuse to ever recede from our consciousness. 

More important, the 49ers are now a game behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the race for NFC supremacy. That is a sentence that is tough to type, particularly if you know any Eagles fans. 

So, yeah, I’m concerned about Sunday. I’m concerned about Purdy. I’m concerned about Kyle Shanahan’s distressing fourth quarter comeback record. I’m concerned that Bosa looks like missing training camp was a big deal. I’m concerned that a rested Bengals team on the rise is cruising into Levi’s to take on a short week-taxed 49ers team that may be turning to Darnold for 60 minutes.

Heck, if cool cat Donte Whitner is “very, very concerned”, maybe we all should be.

And that’s the fun of it, right? The concern makes you feel alive. Can’t wait ’til Sunday.


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