Brock Purdy

Darnold blown away by Purdy's ‘next level' play as 49ers QB

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SANTA CLARA — Quarterback Brock Purdy had a lot to process in a short period of time from 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s play call to quickly identifying the Seattle defense.

But before he made his decision where to throw the football, he noticed the feet of Seahawks safety Jamal Adams.

Adams was stuck between covering wide receiver Jauan Jennings in front of him and Deebo Samuel who was gliding diagonally across the field behind him.

“He was sort of flat-footed,” Purdy said of Adams, “and I was like, ‘All right, with Deebo moving, we can get over the top here.’”

So instead of throwing to Jennings, who was open as the No. 1 target in the progression, Purdy decided to take the deep shot.

Samuel admitted he was not running hard because he did not think the ball was coming his way. He kicked it into another gear when he saw the ball flying his way.

The result was a 54-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that gave the 49ers a 14-10 lead in the Week 14 game at Levi’s Stadium.

“For Brock to be able to see that, it’s definitely next level and it’s really good quarterback play,” 49ers backup quarterback Sam Darnold told NBC Sports Bay Area. “But it’s also how we’re coached.

“How it’s talked about in the quarterback meeting has an effect on Brock and what he looks at. Brock’s eyes were in the right spot, and he saw the right thing.”

That long touchdown is only one example of how Purdy has been able to raise his game to the top level.

It is not a coincidence Purdy leads the NFL in many of the most important statistical categories, including passer rating (116.9), completion percentage (70.2) and yards per pass attempt (9.9). Purdy has played his way into the league MVP conversation with four games remaining in the regular season.

His best quality might be that he makes the incredibly complex look so easy.

“That's stuff that he does very naturally,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I think that's the talent in Brock that you can't always judge.

“It's a big deal how your eyes see things. I think Brock recognizes stuff and the speed of things, and he knows the hole and the defenders and what they should defend.”

Darnold, in his sixth NFL season after entering the NFL as the No. 3 overall pick of the New York Jets, said there were times earlier in the game when Seahawks safeties Adams and Quandre Diggs played the underneath routes on similar concepts.

“So when we saw that earlier, Brock is really good at that — he’s really good at understanding how players are playing in games and when those things come up, being able to take advantage of certain looks,” Darnold said.

“There are certain plays and coverages where it puts guys (defensive players) in binds,” Darnold said. “Brock is a fast processor that way. He can understand what the defense is doing, obviously, tied to our concepts.

"He’s really good at being able to read defenses and going through his progression really quickly.”

Darnold also pointed to Purdy’s preparation and being able to carry over the talking points from Shanahan and quarterback coach Brian Griese from the quarterback room into game situations. Darnold said the discussion includes how defenses might try to disguise coverages. A team can try to trick Purdy into believing they’re playing one defense, then rotating into something else at the snap of the ball.

Purdy has an ability to recognize those changes and react accordingly.

Darnold said he knew Purdy was a very good player when he opted to sign with the 49ers as a free agent. Darnold said he was impressed watching Purdy play late last season after opening the season as the 49ers’ No. 3 quarterback.

And this season he said he has seen a young player who continues to improve in every area.

“I think the thing with Brock is he’s continuing to get better throughout the season,” Darnold said. “That’s what matters: Continuing to get better and hitting your stride at the right time. As long as he can do that, we’ll be in good shape.”

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