How Purdy balances throwing ball away given 49ers’ playmakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Between his youth football days growing up, to lining up with the 49ers’ embarrassment of offensive riches, Brock Purdy still is learning that there are some plays that he needs to cut bait on.
Purdy, with just seven regular-season NFL games and two-plus playoff contests under his belt, was asked Thursday about the concept of throwing a ball away when there’s nothing to gain on a certain play even though he has electric playmakers at his disposal.
“We all know that if I can get the ball to Christian [McCaffrey], Deebo [Samuel], B.A. [Brandon Aiyuk], George [Kittle] on a 2-yard pass, and then they can make something crazy happen,” Purdy told reporters after 49ers practice. “So, I feel like it’s definitely always in the back of my mind, but at the same time, it’s like we’re all human. They can get tackled or something crazy can happen if I do try to force it, so just throw it away. So yeah, it’s something I’m continuing to learn.”
Purdy completed 19 of his 29 attempts while throwing two touchdown passes in the 49ers’ 30-7 Week 1 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.
Purdy was sacked three times by Steelers star T.J. Watt, but the second-year pro didn’t make many other noteworthy mistakes in his first regular-season game since sustaining a torn UCL in his throwing elbow during the NFC Championship Game in January.
But 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was seen during the game imparting decision-making wisdom on his young quarterback.
“I feel like growing up, playing football, all that stuff, it’s always been like, ‘Man, I can always have a chance in a play, even if it’s not there,’ ” Purdy said. “And so sometimes to be able to just surrender for a play, yeah, it’s sort of tough. Like, ‘Man, I got to throw the ball away and lose second down to play third down now.’ So, sometimes there’s certain situations where it’s like, ‘Man, I feel like I could do more,’ but that’s what we preach and that’s what they believe, and I’m all for it.
“Like, it’s about playing smart with the ball, and if we have to punt and give it back to our defense, I’m all for it. We got a great defense. So, it’s picking and choosing your battles with that.”
More than possessing talent, NFL quarterbacks must have the ability to play smart and make the quick — right — decisions for the betterment his team.
Purdy isn’t a physical specimen and there certainly are more gifted athletes in the NFL, but Shanahan and the 49ers saw something in him, enough to warrant using the No. 262 and final 2022 draft pick on him.
The 24-year-old was asked this week if his success might actually force NFL teams to adjust how they evaluate college quarterbacks entering the draft.
“Man, that’s a loaded question in a sense,” Purdy told reporters. “I think it comes down to obviously decision making, being able to make decisions quick, the right decision. And then obviously just being smart with the ball. I feel like if you can just do those things and do what the play-caller is asking of you and not doing too much, then I think you can help put the team in a successful position.
“And so that’s something that I’ve just tried to remind myself of and not trying to do too much, not trying to be a superhero and do everything but make the right decision every single play and do it consistently. And so, I don’t necessarily know if that’s something that people now are asking themselves if they’re going to go draft a quarterback in late rounds and what not. But that’s sort of how I do it, and I guess it works.”
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Purdy so far is doing all the right things and has earned Shanahan’s trust. The 49ers moved on from Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance in favor of the Iowa State product, which is a real vote of confidence.
Every week is a learning process for Purdy. He might still make mistakes early in his NFL career, but it’s clear he’s working to improve his quick-twitch decision-making.
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