Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

49ers explain decision to draft Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who is happy to be ‘Mr. Irrelevant’

Apr 30, 2022 at 5:42 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers raised a few eyebrows at the end of the 2022 NFL Draft with their decision to select Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who was the team's choice to be this year's "Mr. Irrelevant" at the final spot (262 overall) in the seventh round. With Trey Lance, Nate Sudfeld, and (for the time being anyway) Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster, what made the 49ers decide to spend a pick on Purdy?

And what does Purdy think about being a 49er?

Both Purdy and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke on the issue during their post-draft press conferences, with Shanahan offering plenty of reasons why they decided to add Purdy to the roster. Shanahan told reporters the team had their eye on Purdy as their top undrafted free agent possibility but decided instead to use their final draft pick on him instead of letting him hit the open market.

"He was a guy we labeled early as our number one free agent we were going to go after," Shanahan said. "When you get to there and they haven't been drafted and we got that last pick, we thought it was perfect. The guy's played a lot of football, plays the game the right way, is extremely tough, gets the ball to the right spots and plays very well in the pocket. He's a guy who can come in here and help us fill out this roster and give himself a chance to make the team."

Purdy (6-1, 220) had a prolific career at Iowa State, throwing for 12,170 yards and 81 touchdowns over four seasons with 33 interceptions while also rushing for 1,177 yards and 19 touchdowns on 365 carries. He was two-time first-team All-Big XII performer at Iowa State and was a player that both Shanahan and the team's quarterback coaches singled out as a possible late addition if the chance came about.

"I didn't have any interaction with him going through this whole draft," Shanahan said of Purdy. "I spent a lot of my time on all the positions knowing that we might have the luxury to take a quarterback. That's stuff that our scouts get ahead on. I had Brian (quarterbacks coach Brian Griese) and Klay (assistant QBs coach Klay Kubiak) get on it after the last couple of months and they gave me a list of the guys they liked to try to narrow it down where the possibilities were we would take one. There aren't a lot when you get to those parts of the draft."

Shanahan compared Purdy to former 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens in one respect, with both of them being experienced quarterbacks who were surrounded by questions over whether or not they could play in the pros. Those questions may have helped the 49ers land him at the spot they did.

"I think there's some traits that were very similar to Nick Mullens, who 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," Shanahan said. "That's why we probably 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."

Purdy isn't exactly going to remind anyone of the dual threat capabilities of Trey Lance, which is something Shanahan said he would have liked to obtain if it was available at that point in the draft. But the 49ers felt Purdy was the best player on the board regardless of style, so they made their decision to bring him aboard.

"I'd love to draw up the perfect balance to everybody, but you're going to try to take the guys you think are the best when you have the opportunity to take them," Shanahan said. "We felt pretty strongly that Brock was at that point."

Purdy is happy the 49ers made that decision, even though many players would prefer at that point to reach free agency in order to choose the situation they think gives them the best chance to make a roster. Purdy is looking forward to competing for a spot in San Francisco and doesn't even seem to mind having the title of "Mr. Irrelevant," which is given each year to the final player chosen in the draft.

"I think it's a funny thing. If you're a fan, or even my family and friends, it's funny to laugh about it and joke around a bit," Purdy told reporters after the draft. "For me, I'm looking at as an opportunity. I got my foot in the door. A team believed in me, and now I get my opportunity to go and play football. That's what I want my career to be. That's what I want my job to be—to be an NFL quarterback. Now I have the opportunity to do so.

"That's how I'm looking at it. From the outside looking in, yeah, I guess it's a funny thing. And I'll embrace the role and have some fun with it, for sure. But at the end of the day, I'm trying to go help a team win a Super Bowl, so that's where my mindset is at with it."

Purdy will have his work cut out for him if he wants to make the roster and seems more likely to be a practice squad candidate down the road, especially if the 49ers hang on to Garoppolo. But the 49ers are excited about what he brings to the table and are looking forward to seeing him compete once he arrives in the Bay Area.

"He knows how to play the position well," Shanahan said of Purdy. "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."

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