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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy’s leadership, confidence impressing 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Williams

Dec 8, 2022 at 7:15 AM--

When Brock Purdy steps into a huddle, the San Francisco 49ers offense knows he's in complete control. That's something commonplace with veteran quarterbacks who have been through the trials and tribulations of the NFL.

Except Purdy is a 22-year-old rookie who has yet to start an NFL game.

One of those things will change on Sunday when the 49ers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium. Purdy got his first extended playing time this past weekend against the Miami Dolphins, and this coming weekend, he will make his first NFL start.

Against the Dolphins, Purdy looked calm and collected. The situation, replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo after previously taking just 18 pro snaps and attempting nine passes, wasn't too big for the young inexperienced quarterback. Purdy finished the game 25-of-37 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Most important, his Niners got the win.

On Wednesday, Purdy took his first practice rep as QB1, and you would have thought he had been the starter all season. Of course, that's not a surprise to players like wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who know how hard Purdy prepares each week, even as a backup.

"Even today (Wednesday), today was pretty funny," Aiyuk shared with 95.7 The Game's Damon Bruce and Ray Ratto. "We were kind of joking around, having a little fun during the walkthrough, and he's like, 'You all tighten up, let's go. We're trying to get this situated.'

"Everybody's looking around, like, 'OK, OK.' We like that about him. We respect that about him. We love that he's able to, no matter what situation he's in, he demands everybody's attention when we're out there, and we definitely respect that."

Branded Mr. Irrelevant after being selected with the last overall draft pick, teammates are comparing the quarterback to other signal-callers who have made their mark in the league.

"You would think he's been in the league 15 years," left tackle Trent Williams said via NFL Media. "If you're talking, he'll say, 'Shut your a-- up.' He ain't no timid rookie feeling his way around. He will get on your a--. You would think he's like Peyton Manning or something. Wide receivers not running? You'll hear him cussing a wide receiver out."

Aiyuk is grateful that Purdy, once buried on the 49ers' depth chart behind Trey Lance and Garoppolo, is so dedicated to proving himself and ensuring everyone around him plays at their highest level.

"You want that from your quarterback," Aiyuk noted. "Like I said, no matter what his situation is, he understands the importance of his role right now, and that it is his role right now. We can all respect however way he feels fit to lead that role and to play that role."

Even Williams, who has been in the league since 2010, is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, a first-team All-Pro, and is arguably the best offensive lineman in football, can't believe the aura of confidence coming off the young six-foot-one passer.

"I like how confident he is, and [he's] such a small package," Williams said. "His seriousness. To me, it's so intriguing. [With] the offensive line, the confidence is the biggest thing because we're judged play by play. I look at it like, damn, when I was a rookie, I wish I had that confidence. I can appreciate it."

While it was heartbreaking to lose Garoppolo, perhaps for the remainder of the season (there is a slight chance he could return deep in the playoffs), seeing Purdy enter the huddle and the 49ers not skip a beat against a good Dolphins team has to give the team confidence that their Super Bowl hopes have not evaporated.

"I was super, super impressed, and also happy for him," Aiyuk said of Purdy's performance on Sunday. "I kind of look at it from a different state of mind, just because I had a first NFL game as well, and I know how that went. That went all types of different ways. Nothing how I expected it to go, and I wasn't playing the quarterback position. So I'll just leave it at that. I was very, very impressed by how he handled his business.

"It also showed that he handled his business when he didn't even expect to have to go out there. That begins back on Monday, in terms of his preparation for the new week, leading all the way up to Sunday, to give himself an opportunity to be able to go out there and perform the way that he did."

Each matchup moving forward will be a big test for the one-game-at-a-time Niners. This weekend's challenge? Knocking off future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. After that, it will be a matchup with a confident division rival in the rearview mirror—the Seattle Seahawks.

"If you come in and you don't seem confident, and you seem very hesitant, then everybody else starts to worry and play hesitant," Williams added. "When you come in, and you act like you know what you're doing, and you look like you know what you're doing, everybody is going to assume you know what you're doing."

Purdy looks like he knows what he's doing and appears ready for whatever the NFL throws at him.

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