49ers OTAs

Griese lays out areas where Purdy can improve this season

Griese and Purdy both are entering their second season with the 49ers.

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Brock Purdy took the NFL by storm last season, and 49ers fans and pundits expect more of the same in 2023.

But it's never that simple. While Purdy excelled as a rookie thrust into the starting quarterback role because of season-ending injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers QBs coach Brian Griese is well aware the second-year pro can improve in several areas.

"Every part of his game," Griese told reporters Thursday after organized team activities in Santa Clara. "I think that when you're thrown into the fire, there's a lot that you learn on the fly, and there's a lot of things that we all saw that he does really well. His composure, his accuracy, his escape-ability.

"I'd love to see him continue to grow in every aspect of playing quarterback, and that's timing, it's rhythm, it's accuracy, it's reading defenses, it's playing from the pocket, limiting turnovers, giving our team the best chance to win."

Purdy is recovering from surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and has begun a throwing program. While the 49ers aren't certain if he'll be ready for the 2023 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10, they're confident he has enough time to prove he's healthy and ready to go for Week 1.

Despite being the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft and spending the beginning of the season as the third-string quarterback, once Purdy was forced to take over, he showed a level of maturity not often seen from rookie quarterbacks.

Purdy stepped in early in the 49ers' Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins after Garoppolo sustained his injury and guided San Francisco to a 33-17 win. Purdy then started the final five regular-season games and won all of them.

Purdy led the 49ers to NFL playoff wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys before he sustained a right elbow injury that derailed San Francisco's chances of beating the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.

Griese, in his second season as the 49ers' quarterbacks coach, is impressed by what Purdy has shown him.

"I think that Brock has ... an even demeanor and he's played a lot of football, so he's been in some of those situations," Griese told reporters. "He's had to deal with some of those peaks and valleys, and I think he ... had an emotional maturity about him. I think that he has a lot of experiences that he hasn't had, and he had a lot of them last year and some that he dealt with unbelievably, well, pressure situations, playoffs."

Griese, who was a third-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos in 1998 and played 11 NFL seasons with four different teams, compared his experience as a rookie to that of Purdy's.

"I mean, I remember my position as a rookie, I didn't know where the restroom was," Griese said with a laugh. "And then to step into a huddle with guys like George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey and Trent Williams and to be able to handle that emotionally, to be able to handle the offense mentally in a high-pressure situation, in a playoff situation, was not normal for a quarterback his age. And so he's got an unbelievable start to his career."

While Purdy played last season and gained 49ers coaches and players' confidence, he still must improve.

And no one has been in Purdy's ear more than Griese.

"Now, there's a lot of things that Brock can and needs to get better at, for this team to go where we want to go," Griese said. "And Brock and I, we've had that conversation, and he knows, he's the first one to tell you, and that's normal, too, for a young player. So I'm excited to get him back, get him healthy and see how good he can be."

While the 49ers hope Purdy will be available for Week 1, there's still a long way to go to reach that point. But if the 23-year-old is ready to go and makes the necessary adjustments, San Francisco likely will find itself competing for a chance to win the conference and likely a Super Bowl title.

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