When Kendrick Bourne was on the 49ers, it was evident that Kyle Shanahan was head over heels for what Bourne brought to the locker room. At the time, I joked that he was Shanahan’s stepson or favorite child on the roster.
Since then, Jauan Jennings has taken over that title. But after Wednesday’s comments about Brock Purdy, the fourth-string quarterback in August turned starter in December might be the new leader in the clubhouse.
Shanahan’s demeanor was as straightforward as it gets Wednesday when discussing Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury as reporters pushed back on whether or not Jimmy would return.
The expressions didn’t change when the topic of quarterbacks did. Still, Shanahan indirectly told us that he’s a fan of Brock Purdy’s game. Listen to some of these quotes:
2 minutes of Shanahan telling us how he feels about Brock Purdy and what he wants in a QB.— KP (@KP_Show) December 7, 2022
"He's very aggressive in what he does."
“I like when a play is there and guys aren't scared to make it."
"You can tell he's been in it. And I think that's how he knows how to play fast" pic.twitter.com/R3bWwO0LYq
Some will take that as a slight to Jimmy or Trey Lance, but I don’t think Shanahan is looking at it through those lenses. All he did was highlight what he appreciated about Purdy’s game.
Here’s Shanahan on what the biggest change the team has to make with Purdy under center:
“We’re trying not to make it a drastic change. They have a similar skillset. We have a lot of confidence in Brock. We’ve seen him in practice. Our players have, we have, and that’s why we were confident in him, but he hasn’t played a ton of football, so there is some unknown out there. Still, we know he has the ability to do it, we know he has the mentality to do it, and I don’t like how we got to this point, but we’re definitely excited about the option that we have.”
Hearing some of the quotes postgame from the players and even what they’ve said since then, what Shanahan is saying isn’t lip service. The team loves Purdy, and that means something.
Shanahan used “aggressive” to describe Purdy on multiple occasions:
“He’s very aggressive in what he does. Sometimes that can keep both teams in the game, so that’s stuff that you have to work on as you play more, but that’s where you want to start with it. When a guy can make some plays like he does, he gives you a chance to win, but we have to figure out what’s the best way to win with him.
Yeah, I like when a play is there that guys aren’t scared to make it, they don’t hesitate, they don’t take a second look at it. They let it rip and they worry about it after. A lot of guys who just guess do that too, so you have to find out whether they’re being aggressive or just if they’re deciding then to do it or if they’re deciding on Wednesday and then that’s a big difference, but Brock has been very good with it. He can explain what he sees and that’s why we got a lot of confidence in him.”
There’s a fine line between being aggressive and reckless. Purdy pushing the ball down the field on his first series to Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk falls under aggressive. But Brock playing sandlot ball and running out of clean pockets instead of climbing in them is reckless. So, as Shanahan said, it’s on them to figure out how to reign Purdy in and win with him.
And finally, Purdy’s college experience:
“No, I just think when you’re a four-year starter in a pretty big conference, you’ve just been in some pressure, and you’ve done it a lot when you have to come in there as a freshman when you’re the youngest on the team. And to be able to do that four years in a row, you can tell when guys have done that. They’ve just been under center a bunch. They understand just how to play the game. They’ve been in it a lot, and they’ve been in many situations. Now he has to see there’s a huge difference in the league. You can talk about many things, but you can tell he has been in it, and I think that’s how he knows how to play fast.”
Shanahan is aware of Tampa Bay’s prowess in stopping the run, so don’t be surprised if Purdy has to drop back over 30 times again.