Bengals Pregame Quick Hits: Burrow Vs. Purdy, Part I; Awuzie Looks Good To Go As Bengals Go With 5 CBs

Joe Montana Joe Burrow 102923
QB Joe Burrow talks with Joe Montana during warmups before kickoff of the Bengals-49ers game in Week 8 of the 2023 season.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. _ Once 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy practiced on Thursday, the Bengals knew they were getting him Sunday at Levi's Stadium.

But which Brock Purdy are they getting?

The one who led the NFL with a 156.9 passer rating in the first five weeks of the season while not throwing an interception as the 49ers scorched to a 5-0 start? Or the guy of the last two weeks who threw three interceptions in two losses he didn't throw a touchdown while failing to complete 40 percent of his passes?

Since they get him at home, stats say he'll be closer to the one who began the season. Purdy is 8-0 in this building, where he has an NFL-best 127.7 passer rating with 17 touchdowns and just one interception.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is on a bit of a skein with five touchdowns in his last two games, but this one is probably going to be decided by an interception.

The 49ers defense leads the NFL with 11 interceptions, their 12 takeaways are tied for fifth, and they have yet to give up 24 points. The Bengals' eight interceptions are tied for third and their 10 turnovers are tied for sixth.

It also probably comes down to if the Bengals can keep edger Nick Bosa and his NFL-leading 17 quarterback knockdowns away from Burrow. Burrow is looking to jack his career regular-season road record to 13-12-1, his record against the NFC to 10-5-1, and against the NFC West to 4-1 with the lone loss against these 49ers. The track record is there. He's got a 102.2 passer rating against the NFC, helped by the 151 he put up against the 49ers in the fourth quarter of that 26-23 overtime loss in 2021.

It is Burrow's first meeting against Purdy, but he knows 49ers great Joe Montana through a mutual business venture. One of the great villains in Bengals history with two Super Bowl wins over Cincy, Montana hugged Burrow during pregame and chatted. Coincidence? The 49ers made sure the sideline was stocked with Super Bowl alums in a pregame ceremony.

INACTIVES: The bye week came at a great time for Burrow's strained calf and the back issue being fought by cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie, 363 days removed from his torn ACL, suffered a back injury in practice three weeks ago and missed the Oct. 8 Arizona win before being able to go only 14 snaps in the Oct. 15 win over Seattle.

But Sunday's inactive list seemed to indicate Awuzie is feeling better because rookie cornerback D.J. Ivey was back to deactive.

With running back Chase Brown (hamstring), who got hurt during Thursday's practice, on four-game injured reserve, Ivery was one of only four inactives on a list that included offensive linemen Jackson Carman and Trey Hill, as well as backup linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither (knee) for the fourth straight game.

With Brown on injured reserve, the stage is set for wide receiver Charlie Jones (thumb) to come off injured reserve for next week's game against the Bills. Jones no longer has enough attempts to qualify as the NFL punt return leader. But at 18.8 yards per, his average is longer than current leader Rashid Shaheed's 18.3 in New Orleans.

Two of the biggest stars on the 49ers offense, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and left tackle Trent Williams, were inactive. If the Bengals are looking at Bosa on the edge, the 49ers are staring at the Bengals' Trey Hendrickson and his seven sacks.

GAME CAPTAINS: Bengals head coach Zac Taylor gave a nod to his Bay Area products and sent them out as game captains, anchored by running back Joe Mixon. He was joined by Awuzie, Alex Cappa, Jonah Williams, Trenton Irwin and Jake Browning.

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