Who is San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy?

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — To grasp why no person in his orbit is stunned that Brock Purdy has shortly ascended from the ultimate decide within the 2022 NFL draft to the beginning quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, it’s important to know two tales: the one about mono, and the opposite concerning the saguaro cactus.

The tales are separate however linked in that they have been the largest obstacles in Purdy’s early soccer profession. He contracted mononucleosis coming into his junior yr of highschool in 2016 and was on the dropping finish of a hand struggle with a cactus enjoying paintball together with his teammates and coaches the next yr.

These occasions did not fully forestall schools from noticing Purdy, however they made it troublesome for him to get scholarship gives, regardless of a prolific highschool profession. That’s till the NCAA, for the primary time, instituted an early signing day in December. That created a frenetic late marketplace for Purdy earlier than the standard February signing interval, as coaches who did not signal a quarterback early flocked to him to stop being shut out on the place.

Purdy was arguably probably the most fascinating quarterback within the nation between December 2017 and February 2018, with gives from Boise State, Alabama, Illinois and Texas A&M earlier than selecting Iowa State. It was the primary time he had shortly jumped from one thing of an afterthought to middle stage.

It additionally set him on a path to the place he’s now, making ready to begin Sunday for the 8-4 49ers towards the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and legendary quarterback Tom Brady (4:25 p.m. ET, Levi’s Stadium, Fox), turning into the primary Mr. Irrelevant (the ultimate decide within the NFL draft) to begin a regular-season recreation at quarterback.

“I think there’s always been an edge to myself,” mentioned Purdy, the ninth quarterback picked within the 2022 draft. “I’ve always believed that I don’t care what slot, what round, what pick that I get picked or if I was undrafted, my whole thing was I just want to go out and prove to myself that I can play at this level. And so that’s always been my mentality.”

Purdy’s rise to 49ers beginning quarterback has additionally been the results of unlucky circumstances, specifically accidents to quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. However his relentless work habits have led him to this second.

“He doesn’t have to change much,” coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned. “He had to prepare a ton. It’s real hard to do that week in and week out. … I couldn’t imagine studying all week for a test and then not being allowed to take the test. Do it a few weeks in a row and some guys eventually roll the dice and they’re like, ‘All right, it’s not happening’ and then the first quarter it happens and then they can’t handle it.

“Brock was prepared.”

AS THE HEAD varsity football coach at Perry (Arizona) High School, Preston Jones was aware of Purdy from his exploits on the freshman team before working in a quarterback timeshare as a sophomore. He was also the backup punt returner, and when Jones would have Purdy practice fielding punts, his job was to throw it back.

Jones would stand 35 to 40 yards away, with a hand near his ear or next to his hip, and ask Purdy to hit either target. According to Jones, nearly every throw would hit within six inches of Jones’ hand.

Purdy was the unquestioned starter entering his junior year until he contracted mono about two weeks before the season. He lost 20 pounds and had zero physical activity for six weeks. Passes that used to hum out of his hand floated and wobbled.

When Purdy returned 4 weeks into the season, Jones deliberate to ease him in as a part of a rotation. Purdy, nowhere close to again to full power, went in on the second collection towards O’Connor Excessive and by no means exited, going 25-of-28 for 361 yards and 5 landing passes whereas working for 45 yards on 10 carries.

“He was throwing these rainbow bloopers because he had nothing in the tank,” Jones mentioned. “He had no strength, but he was the most accurate guy I’ve ever seen.”

Purdy continued to pile up numbers, elevating Perry from perennial playoff participant to legit state championship contender, however his recruitment did not take off due to the floating, wobbly passes.

Throughout the spring soccer interval previous to his senior season, Purdy joined his fellow seniors and coaches on a retreat to play paintball. In a battle of seniors versus coaches, Purdy discovered what gave the impression to be a great hiding spot behind a cactus.

Upon taking evasive maneuvers, Purdy put his left hand up and a cactus backbone went instantly into it. He ended up within the emergency room and needed to have the backbone surgically eliminated. The harm price him treasured time on the spring ball circuit that would have helped with recruiting.

By the point his senior season rolled round, Purdy was lastly again to full power. His throws have been as much as regular velocity, and he regained the burden he’d misplaced with mono.

Purdy averaged 314.6 passing yards and 72.6 dashing yards per recreation to go along with 67 whole passing and dashing touchdowns, main Perry to inside eight factors of a state title.

“He was kind of like an old man in a kid’s body,” Jones mentioned. “He kind of took it like he was playing in the NFL. He was extremely serious in his preparation.”

FOR IOWA STATE coach Matt Campbell, the traditional opening recruiting name lasts roughly 10 minutes. When Campbell talked to Purdy for the primary time, the 2 chatted for about an hour.

When he ended the decision, Campbell could not consider Purdy, who was within the throes of a instantly intense recruiting battle, was so humble and mature. Pairing that with highschool tape that reminded Campbell of Baker Mayfield solely made Purdy extra interesting.

Iowa State did not have the glitz of a few of the different faculties recruiting him, however that was a part of its enchantment to Purdy, who seen it as a spot the place he may construct one thing.

Any doubt that Purdy may take the Cyclones to new heights was erased in his first prolonged enjoying time at Oklahoma State as a real freshman in 2018, when Purdy changed starter Zeb Noland within the first quarter. After throwing an earlier landing go, Purdy pulled the ball on a zone learn and raced 29 yards for a rating, ending with a mini excessive step as he crossed the purpose line.

“At that moment, I’m like, ‘Oh, buddy, everybody better get ready,'” Campbell mentioned. “This guy’s got a chance to be really special. And from that point forward, he was as big of a transformational figure in the history of Iowa State football as anybody that’s ever played here.”

And very similar to after his first post-mono highschool efficiency, Purdy by no means once more relinquished the job at Iowa State. He began 46 video games and broke or tied 32 faculty data whereas profitable extra video games than another Cyclones quarterback ever. He led Iowa State to its first-ever Large 12 championship recreation as a junior in 2020, a season during which it completed 9-3 and defeated Oregon within the Fiesta Bowl.

“I think his greatest toughness is his mental toughness,” Campbell mentioned. “This was a program that really had never had consistent success. … From Day 1, I feel like this community and the people around this community put Brock on the pedestal. … And I think how he handled himself through the journey of those highs and lows [was] really powerful.”

LEADING UP TO the NFL draft in April, Purdy believed he might be picked as early because the fourth spherical or probably go undrafted. He had all of the intangibles, however there have been questions on his dimension (6-foot-1, 220 kilos) and arm power.

These questions pushed Purdy to the final decide within the draft, a variety that comes with the “Mr. Irrelevant” title. The Niners liked Purdy’s intensive school expertise and have been inundated with endorsements about his work ethic and moxie. They made the decide, with common supervisor John Lynch instantly noting Purdy was “relevant to us.”

Annually, Mr. Irrelevant is welcomed to Newport Seaside, California, for per week of actions he helps select. Purdy wasn’t too accustomed to all of the title entailed however, after some preliminary reticence, embraced the chance.

His week included a banquet — the place he was awarded the “Lowsman Trophy” as an alternative of the Heisman — browsing and crusing classes, a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm and comfort-food meals like fried hen. The custom, began by founder Paul Salata, a former NFL receiver, is supposed to be celebratory and enjoyable. However Purdy was as soon as once more a fast examine, getting up on his surfboard and using a wave and profitable a race in his first crusing try.

Greater than something, he earned a bunch of recent followers in Melanie Fitch — Salata’s daughter and the CEO of Irrelevant Week — and the various volunteers who make the week occur. There have been different Mr. Irrelevants, similar to Bucs kicker Ryan Succop and New York Giants linebacker Tae Crowder, who’ve gone on to profitable careers.

However there’s by no means been a Mr. Irrelevant who instantly grew to become extraordinarily related like Purdy.

“This is the story now,” Fitch mentioned. “He’s the last guy drafted in the draft and he’s playing, he’s going to start. That’s a long journey in the NFL because there’s a lot of really good players that never do start or never really get to get in the game. We just want him to stay healthy, play well, stay poised and, well, be relevant.”

AFTER THE 49ERS acquired working again Christian McCaffrey on Oct. 20, McCaffrey went by a crash course on the offense. Amongst his tutors have been assistant coaches like Anthony Lynn and Bobby Turner. Maybe probably the most unlikely useful resource, nonetheless, was Purdy.

Coming from the Carolina Panthers, McCaffrey knew little about Purdy, nevertheless it was the rookie quarterback who stepped as much as assist McCaffrey be taught the offense. On Saturday nights earlier than McCaffrey’s first couple of video games, the pair would sit down and recite the play sheet. It gave McCaffrey an opportunity to commit them to reminiscence and helped Purdy follow verbalizing the performs like he would in a huddle.

They even went out to the sector one Friday and did a walkthrough collectively.

“The first couple days I figured out a lot about him and his mentality and his work ethic and wanting to be great and wanting to help out,” McCaffrey mentioned. “He jumped at the opportunity and I really appreciative for it.”

Comparable tales popped up in San Francisco’s locker room this week. Left sort out Trent Williams and tight finish George Kittle in contrast Purdy to a 15-year veteran, noting his willingness to take management of a huddle and inform an unnamed teammate to be quiet when he is making an attempt to name a play.

Linebacker Fred Warner and different defenders have raved about Purdy’s willingness to take probabilities towards their protection when working the scout staff, with Warner citing the identical “competitive excellence” Campbell noticed in Purdy’s highschool tape.

Do not anticipate Purdy to place up the massive numbers he did in highschool and school. The 49ers will not ask him to. He has loads of assist, which means his job is to care for the ball and get it to the playmakers.

And Purdy hasn’t deviated from what obtained him right here. On highway journeys and different choose nights, the Niners offensive linemen and tight ends get collectively for low-stakes poker video games, buy-ins by no means exceeding $100 an individual. When Purdy performs, he would not let being comparatively new to poker cease him from being aggressive. Guard Daniel Brunskill additionally is aware of higher than to get his hopes up about Purdy becoming a member of when he extends the invite.

“He prepares all the time,” Brunskill mentioned. “Brock says ‘No, I gotta go study.'”

In any case, in staking their Tremendous Bowl hopes on Purdy, the 49ers are inserting the largest wager of all.