Brock Purdy

49ers QB Brock Purdy's arm strength, deep passes prove doubters wrong

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Anyone still talking about Brock Purdy’s perceived lack of arm strength still is clinging to the pre-draft reports of a year-and-a-half ago.

Either that . . . or they simply are not watching.

There was a time when the 49ers believed there was a ceiling on what Purdy could achieve, too. Then, they saw him on the practice field for the first time.

His size and arm strength were the biggest reasons cited for why Purdy lasted until the No. 262 pick in the draft after his standout four-year career at Iowa State.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers were pleasantly surprised with Purdy’s arm strength when he first arrived in Santa Clara as a member of the team.

“I think it’s definitely stronger than what we thought it was when we drafted him,” Shanahan said on Monday. “But we saw that the first day out at rookie minicamp.”

Many in the football world still have not caught on.

After all, Purdy has been the most accurate and effective deep passer in the NFL this season, according to PFF.

He has completed 22 of 33 (66.7 percent) attempts 20 or more yards down the field for 684 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert generally are regarded as being among those with the strongest arms in the NFL. However, each is completing deep passes at less than 40 percent.

Combined, Mahomes, Allen and Herbert have thrown nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions on pass attempts of 20-plus yards down the field.

Shanahan suggested opposing defenses have never bought into the notion Purdy is unable to throw the deep ball. He said teams have used a variety of different approaches to slow him down, and Purdy continues to adjust his game, too.

And he is doing it while executing every throw in the 49ers’ playbook at a high level.

“I think when people talk about arm strength it’s, yeah, can he sit there and take three hitches and make the wrong decision and just wait and throw it 70 yards down the field? Probably not,” Shanahan said. “But when do you ever want a guy to do that? On a Hail Mary, maybe.

“You want guys who can make all the throws in the timing of the play, which is usually going by the right decisions: When to throw it deep; when to throw it short; when to check it down; when to go over the middle. And Brock has always had the arm strength to make all those throws.”

Purdy achieved the highest-attainable passer rating on Sunday in the 49ers’ 27-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Purdy leads the NFL with a passer rating of 115.1.

The NFL’s passer rating formula takes into account completion percentage, as well as yards, touchdowns and interceptions per pass attempt.

On Sunday, Purdy’s perfect rating came when he completed 21 of 25 passes for 333 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

He and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk teamed up for the longest touchdown pass in the NFL this season. Purdy’s perfect throw traveled 45 yards in the air and hit Aiyuk in stride en route to a 76-yard scoring play.

After watching the video of the game and evaluating the performance of his young quarterback, Shanahan gave Purdy high marks across the board.

“He played at a real high level, made real good decisions, was very smart with the ball and he played like his numbers looked,” Shanahan said. “It was very impressive.”

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