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49ers Notebook: Kyle Shanahan recalls Brock Purdy becoming the team’s best QB; Purdy holds no grudges about being drafted last; Super Bowl Opening Night silliness

Feb 5, 2024 at 10:00 PM--

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This year's Super Bowl Opening Night featuring the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs was as big of a spectacle as the event has ever been, complete with mini-parades introducing each team, a barrage of questions about Taylor Swift, and the majority of the 23,000 fans in attendance serenading the Chiefs with boos when they attempted to answer questions from the event MC.

As always, Super Bowl Opening Night served as a light-hearted introduction to each team, with players addressing a number of not-so-serious questions from reporters in attendance at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Monday evening in addition to several questions about team-related topics. We'll have a mix of both in this version of 49ers Notebook, starting with head coach Kyle Shanahan commenting on team owner Jed York's story about how Brock Purdy emerged as the team's best quarterback in 2022 training camp and ending with a taste of Opening Night silliness from Purdy and George Kittle. Let's get into it...

Purdy's behind-the-scenes emergence

49ers owner Jed York caught some by surprise last week when he told reporters that Kyle Shanahan informed him before the 2022 season that the team's seventh-round draft pick, Brock Purdy, was already the team's best quarterback over returning starter Jimmy Garoppolo and the player they traded three first-round picks to acquire in 2021, Trey Lance. Shanahan was asked about York's story by the NFL Network during Super Bowl Opening Night and admitted it was a little embarrassing to tell the owner that the players the team had given up so much to acquire weren't as good as the player who was selected with the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

"It's funny to hear Jed say that because it wasn't the smartest moment I've ever had," Shanahan said. "When the owner comes in after training camp practices and says 'Hey, how's the quarterback?' What he means is the starter or the second, and you in irritation go 'I don't know, but our third guy's the best.' That's not what he wants to hear, so that's why he remembers it very strong."

Shanahan went on to recall what Purdy did to make him think he was already the best quarterback on the roster. Purdy wasn't getting the practice reps that the others did at first due to the fact he was behind them on the depth chart, but he made the few reps he received count. Purdy's performance never wavered as more reps came his way, and the way he performed in practice combined with the wins he strung together after taking over the starting job late in 2022 convinced Shanahan he'd found his man at quarterback.

"Brock was so good right away," Shanahan said. "With every rep he got, he was always the same. And he only got a couple of them, so it was easy for me to say because in his few reps, he was the best. If you know that for a fact, you do what you do right away. He was the best, but you ease that on. Every time he got a little more reps, it was the same as when he only got two. So when it was all said and done and he got a lot of playing time, it was like, 'Oh, this looks exactly like I told you when I was irritated and he only had three reps, and I said, 'No, he's the best.' That's what was so real about Brock. That's why after his seven games his rookie year and he got hurt, we knew what we had. He'd been that way in practice every day and it was the exact same way in the games."

Purdy now has the opportunity to lead the 49ers to the sixth championship in franchise history against the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII on February 11. Maybe it will prove to simply be the next step on a path towards becoming a 49ers legend.

"Brock has taken advantage of every opportunity he had," wide receiver Deebo Samuel said Monday. "The sky's the limit for him. He's just going to continue to get better and we're going to continue to get better around him. Hopefully he'll be one of the greats."

No grudges

There were eight quarterbacks picked ahead of Purdy in the 2022 NFL Draft: Kenny Pickett of the University of Pittsburgh (Round 1, Steelers); Desmond Ridder of the University of Cincinnati (Round 3, Falcons); Malik Willis of Liberty University (Round 3, Titans); Matt Corral of the University of Mississippi (Round 3, Panthers); Bailey Zappe of Western Kentucky (Round 4, Patriots), Sam Howell of the University of North Carolina (Round 5, Commanders); Chris Oladokun of South Dakota State (Round 7, Steelers); and Skylar Thompson of Kansas State (Round 7, Dolphins). None of those players have had quite the success of Purdy, who has gone from being 2022's of "Mr. Irrelevant" (the title given annually in jest to the final player selected in each NFL Draft) to being a Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl starter.

It would be understandable if Purdy carried a chip on his shoulder after being passed up 261 times in the 2022 NFL Draft before the 49ers selected him at pick 262. But when asked about it Monday, Purdy said he's not upset with any of the teams that passed on him and instead is happy to have landed where he did.

"Honestly I'm not that kind of guy," Purdy said. "I know a couple of the guys that got drafted before me but I've never held a grudge for it or anything. I'm a believer that God has a plan for everybody, and I fell last for a reason. I haven't held any grudges against other teams. It all happened how it needed to, and I'm blessed to be a part of the 49ers."

Not only is Purdy not upset about falling to the last overall pick, he still likes the nickname that was bestowed upon him as a result. Purdy was asked Monday if he should choose a different nickname after the success he's had, but he doesn't feel the need to make a switch at this point.

"Do I think it's time to pick a new nickname? I'm okay with Mr. Irrelevant," Purdy said. "It's all good."

Kittle's Tom Brady moment

Perhaps the most famous moment of Super Bowl Opening Night, formerly known as Super Bowl Media Day (other than Marshawn Lynch repeatedly declaring "I'm just here so I won't get fined"), is when Tom Brady teared up when discussing why his father was his biggest hero. 49ers tight end George Kittle was asked a similar question on Monday and gave a similar answer. Kittle didn't get visibly emotional about the subject like Brady did, but he went into loving detail as to why his father is one of his biggest inspirations, along with his wife.

"I think two people in my life that are the biggest inspirations to me are my wife and my father," Kittle said. "My dad is someone I've been playing football with since I was a little kid. He's the reason I love the game so much. It's a big reason (for) our relationship and our shared interests and all that stuff. The things he taught me about football that would go into your life are to attack everything with your attitude, your effort, and try to have fun doing it. I've done that and I've put that in every single part of my life for my entire life, and that is why you see who I am today. So I thank him so much for that. I'm inspired by him every single day with his love -- my mom too.

"My wife is someone who inspires me every single day. She's the biggest badass I've known. She's been with me since the start of this when I was a scrawny kid at the (University of) Iowa who didn't touch the field, and she's pushed me to be a better person every single day. She's challenged me every single day. She holds me accountable with everything, tells me to kick ass every single day. So those two people inspire me every single day."

Big offseason plans

The Super Bowl hasn't been the only thing on Purdy's mind this season. He's also been looking ahead to his wedding, which will happen in the months ahead.

Purdy and his fiancee Jenna Brandt got engaged in July of 2023, right before the start of 49ers training camp. Purdy has been focused primarily on football since then, but he's actually found some respite when the time has come to check in on where things stand with the wedding.

"Jenna's done a great job with the wedding plans," Purdy said. "We got engaged in the summer and then boom, the season hit, so for me it's been obviously football and trying to win every week. She's done such a tremendous job with when I come home, we just talk about the little things with the wedding. And honestly it's helped me with football -- to sort of get my mind off football, and we have our time to talk about the wedding and what our future looks like. So it's something that we've loved -- the whole process. She's done a great job with it."

Another 49ers player has a wedding on the horizon as well in running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey got engaged to model and actress Olivia Culpo in April of 2023, and it sounds like he and Purdy have enjoyed going through the same process at the same time.

"Talking to Christian about some things with the wedding -- the little things the girls care so much about -- the flowers, the details and stuff, and we're just like, 'Yeah, we love it, sure.' So we've shared some experiences and it's been fun," Purdy said.

Fun moments

Things will get serious for the 49ers in the days ahead as they enter into their practice schedule for Super Bowl LVIII, but on Monday they seemed to be soaking in the atmosphere of Opening Night and having a good time when some not-so-serious questions were thrown their way. Here are our picks for perhaps the two silliest moments of the evening:

First, it's Kittle separating his teammates into Harry Potter houses, which included McCaffrey getting sorted into Slytherin:

Next, it's Purdy being asked to give a Spongebob impression. His response was actually half-decent:

Guillermo from the Jimmy Kimmel Show was also spotted among the 49ers' players, so perhaps whatever he has in store will go down as the silliest moment of the event for the 49ers. But for now, we'll go with Harry Potter and Spongebob.

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