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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

How John Lynch, 49ers were convinced to draft Brock Purdy

Dec 9, 2022 at 9:31 AM--

Everyone was pleased with how rookie quarterback Brock Purdy stepped in against the Miami Dolphins this past weekend and led the San Francisco 49ers to a 33-17 win—helped, of course, by a dominant defense. Still, Purdy didn't look or play like he was seeing the first extended action of his NFL career. Instead, the 22-year-old quarterback was calm and collected, barking commands toward his teammates and acting like a seasoned veteran.

"Brock stepped in, and really, when you're a rookie quarterback, you're going to see pressure," general manager John Lynch told KNBR's Paul McCaffrey and Markus Boucher on Friday morning, "and you're going to be under pressure, and he stood in the face of that and delivered for us. And we're hopeful that can continue."

Purdy will make his first NFL start on Sunday when the 49ers host Tom Brady and the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He could become the first-ever quarterback to beat a Brady-led team in his first NFL start. That's a tall order for any rookie, but Purdy just sees it as another game.

"I don't like to overthink things or anything like that," Purdy told reporters on Thursday. "I'm just trying to keep it simple, play football against a great defense, and try to get the ball to the playmakers. I'm not overthinking anything else."

The 49ers, both players and coaches, have a lot of faith in Purdy. That was evident by the 43 pass plays (37 pass attempts) that head coach Kyle Shanahan called after starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a broken foot. Even more evidence of the team's faith in Purdy came in late August when the roster had to be trimmed down to 53 players.

"I think the biggest testament to our belief in him is that we kept three quarterbacks (including Purdy)," Lynch said. "We don't do that much. Haven't done that much at all in our tenure. So I think the fact that we did spoke volumes of Brock. It's been a journey at the quarterback [position], starting with Trey [Lance], Jimmy."

Garoppolo was only starting because Trey Lance went down with an ankle injury in Week 2. Now, it will be Purdy moving forward. There is a slim chance that Garoppolo could return deep in the playoffs, but neither Lynch nor Shanahan are optimistic about that. However, the team won't be placing the veteran quarterback on its injured reserve list.

49ers pro scout Steve Slowik, then an area scout who had studied Purdy at Iowa State, along with quarterbacks coach Brian Griese, was high on the young quarterback leading into this year's draft. San Francisco had high grades on Purdy in 2021, but this year's marks were more inconsistent.

However, Purdy was part of a culture change inside the Iowa State football program, which spoke volumes to the 49ers' draft scouts.

"He took a team that was really down, along with his head coach, and all the players there, [head coach] Matt Campbell, and made them a perennial power," Lynch explained. "They talked about things like him being a clutch guy. When they needed three points on a two-minute drive, he'd get the three points. When they needed a touchdown, he'd get the touchdown. So there was consistent strong [play]."

Slowik and others inside the 49ers building remained confident that Purdy could contribute. San Francisco selected the Cyclones quarterback with pick No. 262, the last in the draft. But why not just wait to see if they could sign him as an undrafted free agent?

"We had some people in the building very convicted on him," Lynch shared. "So when it came to that final pick in the draft, it was kind of a no-brainer once he was there because we really wanted him as a free agent. We didn't want to take that chance, so we went ahead and drafted him."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.


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