Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Notebook: Brock Purdy’s draft surprise, Tariq Castro-Fields on his NFL readiness, and more

May 12, 2022 at 9:11 PM--

Rookie minicamp gets underway Friday for 49ers drafted players and undrafted free agents, but before those players take the field, they were hit with a number of questions from reporters during pre-camp media sessions on Thursday.

Among the players to speak with reporters on Thursday were wide receiver and third-round pick Danny Gray (SMU), offensive lineman and fourth-round pick Spencer Burford (UT-San Antonio), cornerback and sixth-round pick Tariq Castro-Fields (Penn State), quarterback and seventh-round pick Brock Purdy (Iowa State), and undrafted offensive linemen Jason Poe (Mercer) and Dohnovan West (Arizona State). 49ers WebZone already discussed what Gray said about working with Colin Kaepernick and what West said about why he might have gone undrafted, but there was quite a bit more to come from Thursday's interviews than that.

Here's a rundown of some of the other key quotes from Thursday's sessions, including what Purdy did on draft day to surprise his family and why Castro-Fields thinks his time at Penn State prepared him for what he's about to face in the NFL.

Purdy funny

Purdy was selected by the 49ers with the final overall pick in the NFL Draft, which came as a surprise to those who were watching along with him at home. A big reason for that surprise was Purdy's decision to keep his family and friends in the dark after the 49ers let him know earlier in the draft they were planning on selecting him with the last pick if he was still on the board. Purdy kept the 49ers' intentions a secret even after they called to verify they'd be selecting him.

And that's why Purdy's draft party reacted with shock when his name was announced as the final overall pick.

"The whole round it was a little suspenseful with if I'm going to be taken or not," Purdy said. "Then sure enough, when the 49ers were on deck, I got a call from San Francisco. I actually went into my parents' room, took the call and came out and told everyone it was another free agency call just in case I didn't get drafted. So that's why everyone erupted. I didn't tell them right away that I got drafted. I waited until my name came up on the screen. We had fun with it."

Being the final overall pick in the draft meant Purdy became the 2022 version of "Mr. Irrelevant," which is a title given each year to the last player to come off the board. Purdy will be taking part in a four-day celebration of that status in late June, but for now, he's been getting reminders from his family and friends that "Mr. Irrelevant" doesn't describe who he is, even if he is excited with the chance to wear that label.

"After the draft, the week that I had last week of family, friends coming over and just having fun with it or texting me -- 'You're relevant to us -- and all that kind of thing," Purdy said. "They were having fun with it, but for me, it's like, 'Man, I get an opportunity.' That's how I'm looking at it."

NFL tutor

Purdy has been getting some help from a familiar name in Sage Rosenfels, a fellow Iowa State product who played for over a decade in the NFL. Rosenfels has been briefing Purdy on what to expect from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.

"The guy that sort of helped me with the mental part of the NFL and getting ready for schemes and stuff was Sage Rosenfels, who went to Iowa State," Purdy said. "The things that he knew from playing and stuff was the West Coast and Shanahan-type offense. So when I got drafted by the 49ers, I was really excited."

Getting familiar

Purdy hasn't spoken with 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but he has had the chance to meet Trey Lance and Nate Sudfeld. The three of them have gotten off on the right foot and Purdy is looking forward to building that relationship in the months to come.

"They've just been welcoming me with open arms and have been great guys so far," Purdy said. "I know those are the kind of people that they are and teammates, is what I've heard. I'm excited to get in that room and learn from them and compete and just be a part of that room."

Iron sharpening iron

Tariq Castro-Fields has an advantage over the other rookie cornerbacks the 49ers added to the roster, thanks in large part to the competition he faced every day in practice at Penn State.

Castro-Fields matched up on a daily basis with wide receiver Jahan Dotson, who was a first-round selection of the Washington Commanders in the 2022 NFL Draft.

"I feel he was the best receiver in the country," Castro-Fields said.

That's some high praise considering Castro-Fields also faced off against Ohio State, who at one point boasted an entire receiving room full of first-round picks such as Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, and expected future first-rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

"So when I got to go against the O-State guys and people like that who are good at their craft as well, I knew I was ready just because I was going against Han every practice," Castro-Fields said.

Castro-Fields on his draft slip, and a possible future at safety

Some draft analysts projected Castro-Fields to go earlier on Day 3 than he was selected, but he's happy with where he landed despite having to wait until late in Round 6 to get the call.

"Life is not fair," Castro-Fields said. "You never really know. So I'm just going to use that as fuel and propel myself forward. I get a new opportunity with the 49ers -- a great organization. I'm blessed to be here. And I'm in Cali. Life is good."

Castro-Fields also addressed whether or not he could play safety in the NFL. He hasn't played safety since high school, but he's confident he could make the switch if called upon.

"I've been in the post before, but I haven't played safety in a long time," Castro-Fields said. "But I'm willing to do anything just to compete. I feel like with my skillset and what I bring to the table, I could do it all."

Burford on getting back to guard

Spencer Burford's future with the 49ers may be at guard, even though he lined up at tackle for the past two seasons. He spent some time at guard at the Senior Bowl in one-on-one drills over the final two days of practice, which set the tone for what he could be facing in the weeks ahead.

"It was just getting acclimated back inside because I played guard the first two years of my college career," Burford said. "It was fun getting back inside, being more aggressive. A lot of things happened a lot faster, a lot quicker."

Tough guy

Danny Gray is known for his blazing speed, but he doesn't shy away from contact either. Gray told reporters his toughness was taught to him at a very young age by his uncle and former coach, Kendrick Barron.

"One game I came out, I had a bloody nose," Gray said. "I hit my nose real hard. He just told me, 'Hey, blow it out. Get back out there. Go be tough. Go be you.' So it's kind of the mindset I have every time I touch the field."

Gray said he was seven or eight years old when that happened, but he's been carrying that same approach ever since.

Jason of all trades

Jason Poe expects to be an interior offensive lineman for the 49ers, but he also has the ability to play defense and has even spent time at fullback in his career. He was asked multiple times how he'd feel about lining up at various positions and gave the same answer every time -- he'll do what the coaches ask him to do.

"Wherever the coach wants me at," Poe said. "I'm willing to do anything, so I've been working on everything. Probably at guard, center, wherever he wants me on the line, I'll do it."

Poe added that he didn't play center in college but has been working on the position in recent weeks.

More versatility

West is expected to line up at center, but he too can help at guard if need be. West started games at both guard positions during his college days at Arizona State.

"If there was ever an injury or anything, I could be plugged into that spot -- next man up," West said. "I'm looking to come out here and do whatever I can to help make this team better. So I feel like having versatility in those positions, if something were to happen, I'd be ready to go."

West also ran into a former college teammate on Thursday -- 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

"I actually just saw Brandon earlier today when I first showed up," West said. "I was eating lunch before I went through all my physicals and stuff. He came and sat down, chopped it up, just welcomed me to the team and what not."

49ers rookie minicamp will last through the weekend and come to an end on May 15.
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