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Kyle Shanahan shares what makes Brock Purdy a ‘special player’

It won’t be a physical trait you can think name

Super Bowl LVIII - Team Arrivals Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Jed York spilled the beans last week when he told the media that San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan thought Brock Purdy was the best quarterback as a rookie during training camp.

Some feelings may get hurt reading that, but Shanahan was correct when you think about the success this team has had with Purdy under center and how quick and consistent it’s been.

Kyle told Peter King that the 49ers had a fourth-round grade on Purdy. That also led to some not-so-happy coaches on the staff.

Shanahan also told King that the team’s interest in Tom Brady last offseason was a compliment to Purdy. When describing Brock to King, Kyle spoke about Purdy’s foundation as a person:

“It comes from somewhere, I’m sure, his parents. I think it has a lot to do with his faith. He has a foundation in him of who he is as a human being. He is so confident in who he is as a person. He’s one of the most confident, humble people I’ve ever been around. Borderline cocky, which is such the wrong word because he’s so humble and such a good dude. He one thousand percent believes in himself. This doesn’t surprise him at all.

I remember his walk-through before his first start last year. He made all these mistakes. Missed a few audibles; ‘cans,’ we call them. Not a good day. He comes up to me right after and he’s like, ‘I hope that didn’t stress you out, Kyle. That’ll happen to me sometimes. Trust me. I won’t mess those up in the game. Don’t be scared.’ And of course he goes out and plays great.”

That first start against the Miami Dolphins resonated with Shanahan. When I asked Kyle about Purdy’s skill at avoiding sacks a week ago, he referenced examples in that game against Miami.

That’s one of Purdy’s best yet underrated traits. It’s the reason the 49ers are still playing and will likely be why they win it all. It’s something Shanahan’s getting used to:

“I mean, I’m getting my call ready for like second-and-20 because there’s no play there. Guy just makes plays when they’re not there. He does it more than any quarterback I’ve had. And he also is an assassin when it comes to what we’re trying to do.”

When Kyle uses the word “assassin,” I read that as Purdy is a player who doesn’t miss the “kill shot.” That could be a deep crossing route to Deebo Samuel or a 25+ yard throw to Brandon Aiyuk. Purdy has been ruthlessly efficient on both types of throws, and Shanahan acknowledges that.

But Brock’s ability to tune out the outside noise is Shanahan’s favorite characteristic about his quarterback:

“This is what I love about Brock. Last pick in the draft. Takes us to the conference championship game twice and this Super Bowl in two years. Getting talked about for MVP. And the dude, he doesn’t have to work at not listening to it or trying to stay humble or trying to not get caught up in how life is changing. You know why? He doesn’t care. He really has a true foundation and knows who he is and who he wants to be. That is rare for any human. He’s a special player. But this stuff he’s a special guy.”

That’s what makes the NFL Draft impossible. There’s no way for teams to know how a player responds to adversity — or, in this case, success — until you have them in the building. A coach or scout can only tell you so much about their work ethic and how they are with their teammates.

Judging by everything we’ve seen during the past two years, a fourth-round grade is probably still too low for Purdy.