Mike Purcell Continues Strong Push to Make 53-Man Roster


The San Francisco 49ers‘ second preseason game on Sunday featured a good amount of positives. In the 23-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the Jarryd Hayne show continued, as he racked up 82 total yards between returning punts and carrying the ball. NaVorro Bowman‘s second act began in triumphant fashion, as he played in just one series, but was a disruptive force for all three plays he saw. Special teams was aces, including Hayne’s efforts and a blocked punt for a touchdown courtesy of Quinton Patton. The turf even held up pretty well!

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But maybe the most impressive highlight of the night came from watching a 303-pound nose tackle run for 37 yards.

About halfway through the second quarter, the 49ers blitzed up the middle in an effort to get to Cowboys’ quarterback Dustin Vaughan. Vaughan took a couple steps to his left, and while trying to check down to his tight end over the middle, Gavin Escobar, his throw landed in the big mitts of 49ers’ defensive lineman Mike Purcell. The catch was the beginning of a majestic sequence of events.

Purcell, all 300-plus pounds of him, juked around Vaughan, who flailed unsuccessfully to bring down the man who just picked him off, and then shook off a tackle from Cowboys’ offensive lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau before rumbling and stumbling 37 yards to the endzone. He was mobbed by teammates in celebration as he cradled the ball like an egg he was tasked to protect in a high school project.

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Big man touchdowns are some of the most exciting moments in football. These big defensive linemen are tasked with hitting the guy with the ball as hard as possible, and rarely do they have the chance to touch a live ball. When they do, it can be a thing of beauty. Like John Madden said in the movie The Replacements, “I love to see a fat guy score!” The only thing missing in this sequence was the fat guy spike and the fat guy dance.

The most surefire way to make sure your name is remembered is to find your way into the endzone, and for Purcell, this is just the latest feather in his cap as he tries to force his way on to the 49ers’ opening day 53-man roster.

After being undrafted in 2013 out of the University of Wyoming, Purcell spent all of 2013 and most of 2014 on the 49ers’ practice squad. When Ray McDonald was released before the final two games in the 2014 season, Purcell was called up, and amassed one tackle over two games.

Purcell has been solid throughout camp, and was very impressive in the 49ers’ preseason opener against the Houston Texans. He racked up six tackles, and was a key cog to a huge defensive goal line stand. He continued his strong push for an opening day roster spot with Sunday’s touchdown, and that has to be the icing on the cake so far.

The touchdown made rookie head coach Jim Tomsula happy, as the former defensive line coach said “How about my man? Pick-six” after the game. Tomsula has worked magic on the 49ers’ defensive line before, and he must think that Purcell is someone he can work with. Purcell has proven himself so far.

The preseason is half over, and while preseason doesn’t mean a whole lot for starters who are locked in to their jobs, it means everything for a player like Purcell, who is just trying to make the team. These last two games will go a long way towards determining the final few players who make the roster. Right now, Purcell has to have the perceived edge.

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