Brock Purdy took the league by storm and surprised everybody when he took over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13. The 49ers offense went to a level we hadn’t seen under Kyle Shanahan, with Purdy under center.
Long-time NFL Films producer Greg Cosell joined Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan on 49ers Talk, where Cosell shared his thoughts about Purdy:
“There are some quarterbacks that are going to cause people to think a little bit differently about their evaluations, which is a good thing, including myself. Josh Allen was one of those guys. While he was big and strong and could throw it around, he was scattershot.
And when the Bills traded up to get him, there were a lot of people that thought, ‘Josh Allen isn’t going to be any good.’ I can tell you for a fact that there are teams in this league that didn’t even have Brock Purdy as a priority free agent.
If you say something that doesn’t make it sound like Brock Purdy’s great, then people think you don’t like Brock Purdy. But Brock Purdy has a certain skill set and a coach in Kyle Shanahan that really understands how to get quarterbacks highly efficient. And Brock Purdy is ultimately that kind of player. He’s not a big armed kid or physically imposing.
But there are two things he couldn’t do that Jimmy Garoppolo couldn’t do. One was he has much lighter and quicker feet. So you saw more play-action/boot. Jimmy G could not really do that well.
And the second thing is Purdy has second reaction movement. He could make improvisational plays. We know that Jimmy G really was not that guy. So it expanded what the 49ers could do.”
Purdy’s mobility and foot quickness allowed Shanahan to use the entire field. The type of play-action plays the 49ers ran were different, and that’s reflected in the numbers.
Garoppolo had 72 drop backs that were play-action this past season, which were 22 percent of his drop backs. Jimmy averaged eight yards per attempt, threw for 24 first downs, but also had a 5.1 turnover worthy throw percentage.
Purdy, on the other hand, had 69 drop backs, which accounted for 26.6 percent of his throws. But he only put the ball in harm’s way 2.6 percent of the time, with a 10.1 yards per attempt, threw three more touchdowns, four more first downs, and had a passer rating that was 26 points higher.
Cosell was asked about Purdy’s talents after not having him rated highly coming out of college, and addressed a couple of areas that Purdy needs to clean up moving forward:
“There were two things he started to do toward the last two or three weeks of the season. When he felt pressure, he started to retreat backwards. You can’t retreat backwards in the NFL.
Another thing is when he felt pressure, he’d automatically run to his left. Teams would start to force him to do that. You see how guys play over time. You get a book on him. There’s no question that Purdy played better than Nick Mullens.
One of the great things about Purdy is that he did not make bad throws. Could he have thrown more picks? Obviously, [Quandre] Diggs dropped an interception in the first half of Seattle.
But he also started to miss a few things toward the last few weeks where they were designed, fine read throws, and for whatever reason he didn’t turn it loose. I’m not saying that he didn’t have a good year, and the story is phenomenal.
But six, seven games is not enough to decide whether a guy is bad, in some cases, or great. Six or seven games is not enough to evaluate any player in any way, good or bad.”
Tough to disagree with Cosell’s assessment, who looks at football from a process standpoint and isn’t as concerned with the results.
Purdy fell back on what worked for him in college when he was under pressure, which was a backyard football mentality where he had some Johnny Manziel in him. Purdy is a good enough decision maker to throw the ball out of bounds and not put the ball in harms way, but there’s no doubt he began to bail from clean pockets.
With more NFL experience, the hope is that Brock learns to stand in the pocket and is comfortable with what he’s seeing. We’ll share Cosell’s thoughts about Trey Lance later today.