Cosell: Purdy's sample size not enough to determine QB's skill

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Brock Purdy took the NFL world by storm when he became the 49ers' starting quarterback as a rookie, leading San Francisco all the way to the NFC Championship Game.

The 23-year-old took over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 4 and didn't lose until the conference title game, but NFL Films producer Greg Cosell believes those nine games, including the playoffs, weren't a large enough sample size to determine Purdy's capabilities as QB1.

"I'm not saying [Purdy] didn't have a good year, and the story is phenomenal," Cosell told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan for "49ers Talk" during Super Bowl Radio Row last week in Phoenix. "But six, seven games is not enough to decide that a guy is either bad, in some cases, or great."

Cosell noted things Purdy does well, like his mobility and ability to take care of the football, but also detailed little things he saw over the season's second half that he believes could be exposed by defenses over time.

In studying Purdy's starts, Cosell noticed the rookie either retreats backward or to his left when under pressure. And in the last two weeks of the season, Cosell saw Purdy missing reads.

"For whatever reason, he didn't turn it loose," Cosell said. "He just -- I don't know, maybe he didn't see it. I can't answer that. Only he could."

After Garoppolo broke his foot against the Dolphins, Purdy came in without missing a beat and helped deliver a 33-17 victory. On the "Ross Tucker Podcast" later that week, Cosell said the reason why Purdy was selected last overall by the 49ers in the 2022 NFL Draft was because of his arm strength and unimposing size.

But Cosell also noted he liked what he saw from Purdy in that game, though he believed both then and now it's impossible to evaluate Purdy one way or the other.

"All of a sudden on Twitter, people are saying, 'Well, you have to apologize to Brock Purdy.' The guy had played one game," Cosell said. "... Let's be realistic here: six or seven games is not enough, in any way, to evaluate a player, good or bad."

Some of Purdy's teammates feel differently, with both George Kittle and Nick Bosa heaping praise upon him and agreeing the starting job is Purdy's to lose.

He'll have an uphill battle to keep his job, however, as he's set to undergo surgery to repair his torn right UCL on Feb. 22, ahead of an anticipated camp battle with fellow signal-caller Trey Lance.

RELATED: Vernon Davis argues Lance, not Purdy, is 49ers' answer at QB

But Lance doesn't have much NFL service time under his belt, either, perhaps putting the pair on common ground.

And Cosell's view aside, coach Kyle Shanahan will have to determine who's good enough for the starting role regardless of how much either quarterback has played.

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