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Brock Purdy’s Willingness to Learn has Benefited the 49ers

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy has the poise of a grizzled veteran. This line, or one similar, has been thrown around about the rookie Iowa State product since he took over for Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins, and his legend has only continued to grow with each passing victory.

When asked about how Purdy has been able to navigate the complex minefield of when to lean into his gunslinging and when to throw the ball away to game manage another day during his Friday media session, Kyle Shanahan complemented his rookie signal caller’s willingness to learn from week to week.

“I think he’s done a real good job,” Shanahan said via 49ers WebZone. “He’s extended a number of plays. I think he’s made a few mistakes. There’s a fine line between all of that, but when there’s no play there, you always want guys to extend plays. I think guys get in trouble when they start relying on extending plays before making the play that’s there. I think that’s sometimes things you have to be careful of, especially when you have some playmaking ability like that. And I think that’s stuff that Brock has learned and he’s done a pretty good job of. There were a of couple times he extended the play last week where he almost got in trouble and he was able to survive it. And I thought one of the scariest ones was the one he threw to, I think it was [RB] Elijah Mitchell] or [RB] Christian [McCaffrey], I forget which one, because he did it to both of them there at the end, but made a great off schedule that ended up being one of his better plays, so he’s done a great job so far and hopefully that’ll continue.”

After being dubbed a bit of a gunslinger coming out of college, like in his NFL.com draft profile by Lance Zierlein, it’s clear Purdy has the pocket maturity of a performer many years his senior, a savvy he believes was well forged during his time in the Hawkeye State.

Iowa State Influenced the San Francisco 49ers QB’s Patience

Speaking to reports on Thursday, Purdy noted how, over his tenure at ISU, he learned firsthand how sometimes a play isn’t there, especially during his 2020 game against TCU, where he threw a pick-six so filthy that ESPN called it “one of the worst turnovers you’ll ever see

“Yeah, you could just tell I was pressing,” Purdy said via 49ers WebZone. “There are times where I’ve always felt like the play’s not dead and that I can always make something out of something. We had two guys come off the edge, I’m pretty sure and instead of either taking a sack or throwing it away early, I’m getting sacked and I go to throw it to a guy on the opposite side of the field and it gets picked, goes the other way and yeah, in that moment it’s like, man, you’re doing too much. You’ve put all this unnecessary pressure on yourself to make something happen when it’s not there. Yeah, that was the point in my career where I had definitely to take a step back and be like, ‘man, just do what, do what’s asked of you. Don’t try to do too much. You’re hurting the team when you make those kinds of mistakes,’ so you just have to learn from it and just not press.”

Fortunately for 49ers fans, Purdy has only thrown three interceptions during his time in San Francisco, and none were as woefully egregious as that play. Maybe that comes down to luck, but in Shanahan’s opinion, it may have more to do with Purdy’s extensive experience than his good fortune.

Kyle Shanahan Knew Brock Purdy was Special in Week 12

So when did Shanahan know Purdy wasn’t your typical Mr. Irrelevant, of which the 49ers have drafted four? It wasn’t during training camp, or when Purdy handed the ball off to the wrong side of Jordan Mason, but instead against the Miami Dolphins, where the rookie quarterback stepped into Garappolo’s shows without missing a beat on the way to a 33-17 victory.

“I felt that during the Miami game,” Shanahan said. “That was a game with a lot of high stakes. We were playing a real good team. He came in real early in the game and we were under a lot of duress, the way that their defense was playing, the way they were coming after us and he didn’t play at all like a rookie in that game. And I remember getting home that night and all of us being pretty down about losing Jimmy, that we did get in there with Brock and as I was going to bed and it kind of hit me that he definitely didn’t play like a third-stringer today. And we’ll see how it goes this week, but we felt pretty good then. And you have to see when you go to his first start, but he looked the same way in practice that whole week and had a hell of a first start. And I think we all quickly forgot that he’s a rookie.”

Will Purdy look like a rookie against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 20, a team with one of the top defenses in the NFL? Only time will tell, but after clearing every hurdle placed in his path thus far, it’s really hard to bet against Mr. Irrelevant proving his significance once more.

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