If you’re a fan of college football, then you’re familiar with the name Brock Purdy. He went to high school in my neck of the woods in Phoenix, Arizona, where Purdy, despite being a 3-star recruit, put up monster numbers and had offers to go to prominent schools such as Alabama.
Purdy committed to Iowa State and won the starting job as a true freshman over the two incumbent quarterbacks. Purdy became a household name in college football after his sophomore campaign, where Purdy threw for 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions while adding eight rushing touchdowns.
Some projections, at that point, viewed Purdy in the same class as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Kyle Trask. Then, 2020 happened.
Turnovers and volatile play became Purdy’s story. Instead of seeing another jump in his play, Purdy went from trending toward a first-round prospect to a Day 3 prospect. Instead of joining the quarterbacks mentioned above in the 2021 NFL Draft, Purdy returned to school as a senior.
Purdy could never recapture his sophomore magic, and his lack of physical gifts paired with struggling to read the field ended up being the reason Purdy lasted until the seventh round.
So, what do the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan see in Purdy? When Purdy has to hit wide receivers underneath or even at the intermediate portion of the field, his accuracy is “good enough.” Per Sports Info Solutions, no quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft threw more catchable passes than Purdy, who was also second in on-target percentage.
Purdy ran a 4.84 40-yard dash, but he has more than enough mobility and a good sense of when the play is breaking down, and it’s time to bail in the pocket. I can picture the offensive staff watching Purdy scramble and seeing him dive for extra yardage or putting his body on the line and falling in love with Purdy’s mentality as a runner.
Shanahan said he saw some similar traits in Purdy that he saw in Mullens:
“He knows how to play the position well. He’s got a ton of reps. You’re not looking on what you can develop him into, you’re looking at, this guy knows how to play the position, let’s see how he can do it at this level. I think there’s some traits that were very similar to [Las Vegas Raiders QB] Nick Mullens. He was a four-year starter, who played at a very high level in college and people want to know how he can do it at this level and that’s probably why we got him where we did, but this is a very hard position to play and he does it extremely consistent. I love how balanced he is in the pocket, I love that he’ll hang in there, doesn’t need good protection to get rid of the ball and usually if someone’s open he gets the ball to the right spot.”
If you cringed when you saw the Mullens comp, remember that we were never supposed to see Mullens in extended action. He proved to be a valuable backup. That’s what the 49ers are hoping they get from Purdy.
Purdy’s experience and leadership could rub off on Trey Lance. Eventually, he could be an extra set of eyes for Lance to lean on in between series. Then, if worst comes to worst, a spot starter if Lance misses time.