Samuel injured as Purdy powers 49ers to victory

6:17 PM ET

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers‘ dominant 35-7 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday came with an encouraging arrival and a disappointing departure.

Making his first NFL start, rookie quarterback Brock Purdy put together one of the best first halves in a starting debut in NFL history as the Niners surged to a big early lead and never looked back in a 35-7 victory. San Francisco improved to 9-4 with its sixth win in a row and can clinch the NFC West division crown as soon as Thursday night if it can beat the Seattle Seahawks on “Thursday Night Football.”

But the win didn’t come without a cost as receiver Deebo Samuel suffered a left ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return. The injury was initially announced as a knee one but was later changed to ankle, which offered the Niners hope that it might not be serious.

In his postgame news conference, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Samuel could have a high left ankle sprain. He wasn’t certain yet, but nothing is broken, the coach added.

Samuel’s injury was one of the few things to put a damper on an otherwise impressive day for the Niners and their rookie quarterback. Purdy, who was the 262nd and final pick of the 2022 NFL draft, became the first “Mr. Irrelevant” to both start and win an NFL game at quarterback.

Purdy’s first-half efficiency was so good — 14-of-18 for 185 yards with two touchdowns for a rating of 146.5 — that he didn’t have to do much in the second as San Francisco salted the game away. Purdy joined Don Strock as the only quarterbacks since 1950 to throw for at least two touchdowns and run for at least one score in the first half of his first start.

Purdy also became the first first-time starter to beat Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. Brady entered 7-0 against teams with a first-time starting quarterback. Purdy finished 16-of-21 for 185 yards with two touchdown passes and a rushing score.

Shanahan said that Purdy has an oblique injury, but he didn’t come out of the game because of that. He came out because of the differential in the score.

Samuel’s injury happened with about five minutes left in the second quarter on second-and-9 at Tampa’s 43. He took a handoff from Purdy and ran up the middle as a pair of Bucs defenders converged.

Samuel attempted to spin out and appeared to get his left foot and ankle twisted in an awkward direction. Samuel lost the ball as Tampa recovered but stayed down for a few minutes in obvious pain.

Most of the Niners roster quickly ran on the field to be close to Samuel as the medical staff checked on him and San Francisco fans chanted “Dee-bo, Dee-bo.” Samuel briefly stood up and appeared set to hobble to the sideline with some help from medical staff but dropped back to the ground and yelled an expletive picked up by the officials’ microphone.

A cart came out soon after, taking a dejected Samuel to the locker room. Samuel had his hands on his left knee and his head down as the cart disappeared into the Niners’ tunnel.

Initially, the Niners announced that Samuel was questionable to return, but they ruled him out soon after. Samuel’s injury comes a week after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a broken left foot that is expected to keep him out for the rest of the season.

Samuel had four catches for 43 yards and four carries for 21 yards and a touchdown at the time of his injury.

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