By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Brock Purdy threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score in his first career start and San Francisco’s vaunted defense spoiled Tom Brady’s Bay Area homecoming with a 35-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Purdy outplaying the NFL’s most accomplished quarterback ever was partially overshadowed by another key injury for the 49ers (9-4).
A week after losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a broken left foot that opened the door for Purdy to start, the Niners lost star receiver Deebo Samuel to an ankle injury that forced him to be taken off the field in tears on a cart.
That was about the only thing that didn’t go right for the 49ers, who thoroughly dominated Brady and the Bucs (6-7) to win their sixth straight game.
Purdy’s first start got off to a painful start when he was flattened on a blitz by Keanu Neal on the first play on a play that was ruled roughing the passer.
The last pick in the 2022 draft got right back up and led the Niners to one of their five touchdown drives on their first seven possessions of the game when Samuel scored on a 13-yard run.
Samuel got hurt on a fumble in the second quarter in an emotional scene that saw dozens of his teammates come on the field to wish him well before he was taken away on a cart with his head in his hands.
San Francisco already led 21-0 at that point with Purdy having scored on a 2-yard run and a 27-yard TD pass to Christian McCaffrey.
He capped a near-perfect first half with a 32-yard TD pass to Brandon Aiyuk, joining Don Strock (1975) as the only players to throw at least two TD passes and run for another in the first half of their first career start, according to Sportradar.
Purdy finished 16 for 21 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
McCaffrey, who ran for 119 yards, added a TD on the ground with a 38-yard run after Brady was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson on the first drive of the third quarter.
Brady, playing just the second road game against his favorite team while growing up in nearby San Mateo, was intercepted again on the next possession by Dre Greenlaw and didn’t lead the Bucs to a score until a deflected TD pass to Russell Gage late in the third quarter.
Brady finished 34 for 55 for 253 yards with one TD and the two interceptions.
Despite the lackluster performance, the Bucs still have a one-game lead over Atlanta and Carolina in the NFC South and are in line for a home playoff game if they close it out.
The Bucs had a couple of big plays negated by penalties in the first half with Brady’s 68-yard TD to Mike Evans wiped out by a holding on tackle Donovan Smith in the first quarter and Anthony Nelson’s interception taken away on a defensive hold against Carlton Davis.
It was the 10th penalty on the season against Smith, with three of those negating touchdowns.
The flag against Davis was followed immediately by Purdy’s TD pass to Aiyuk to make it 28-0 with 15 seconds left in the first half.
Purdy’s long touchdown pass to McCaffrey was originally ruled a catch, then announced as an incompletion before the officials announced they were going to review the play because McCaffrey bobbled the ball.
With no clear evidence of whether McCaffrey’s second foot hit out of bounds before he controlled the ball, referee Brad Allen announced that the initial call of a TD would stand.
Bucs: NT Vita Vea (calf), CB Zyon McCollum (concussion), CB Jamel Dean (toe) and LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (hip) all left with injuries.
49ers: San Francisco lost Samuel, DT Kevin Givens (knee), CB Samuel Womack (head), CB Dontae Johnson (knee) and DL Kerry Hyder Jr. (ankle).
Bucs: Host Cincinnati on Sunday.
49ers: Visit Seattle on Thursday night with a chance to clinch the NFC West with a win.
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