Few analysts had former Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy coming off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft, but the San Francisco 49ers made him “Mr. Irrelevant” on the final day of the event at pick No. 262.
As with all late selections like this one, the team isn’t tied to the quarterback and it’s a no-risk pick for them. Purdy presents an appealing long-term backup option for the 49ers, which revealed more of its plan at quarterback this week. San Francisco General Manager John Lynch confirmed there were trade talks surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this offseason, though they were brought to a “screeching halt” after the signal-caller underwent shoulder surgery.
“I felt we were close in some discussions and then the decision was made to have surgery and it brought things to a screeching halt,” Lynch said Monday. “We either want to have Jimmy playing for us, which we’re alright with, or we want him to get the value.”
So, as things stand for the here and now, it doesn’t look like Garoppolo is going anywhere just yet and he’s got former FCS wonder Trey Lance, the most athletically gifted quarterback from last year’s class, competing with him. So, where does Purdy fit into all of this and what should we reasonably expect to see from him in the coming seasons?
Purdy should at least make the practice squad this year. While his chances of making the roster should not be totally out of question, he projects as a player who will be a solid backup that could manage if called upon as a spot starter when injuries arise.
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan compared Purdy to current Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Nick Mullens. Now, Mullens isn’t a quarterback that would be viewed as a long-term starter by any means, but he is one who has proven a viable backup.
“He knows how to play the position well,” said Shanahan. “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 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 [consistently]. 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.”
Purdy showed a great amount of improvement between 2020 and 2021 after his stock took a hit in the previous year. It was due to some decision-making issues and overall lack of pocket awareness, completing 71.7% of his passes for 3,188 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
He brings a lot of likable traits to the table in addition to sheer experience. Purdy maintained a good level of overall accuracy for the better part of the 2021 season, something that can be attributed to him having some of the best lower-body mechanics in the draft. He does not really get “heel clicky” or try to make a lot of things happen off-platform like some other quarterbacks do. He’s a tough runner with a strong mentality that can evade pressure and make things happen with his legs and may have a better deep ball than many have given him credit for, considering how tailored the Cyclones offense was to star running back Breece Hall.
Purdy showed he could have success on several passes of 20 yards or more during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day, something that didn’t show up on tape that much because it wasn’t frequently asked of him.
“(The deep ball) is not on the tape as much,” Purdy told me earlier this offseason. “Coaches want to see 11-on-11, pressure in your face, you’re not in rhythm – if you’re moved off your spot, can you still make that deep-ball throw? I think that’s what it’s going to come down to when I’m on a team, at practice, at camp, whatever it is. But I think it was good to showcase it like ‘oh hey, he can make that throw, let’s give him a shot in practice and let’s see if he can do it then, that’s what it’ll come down to but I did show it at the combine and at pro day.”
Purdy’s time to have “a shot in practice” is officially upon him and he’s in a good position to prove his doubters wrong.