Ex-Purdy college rivals now on Eagles share how to beat 49ers QB


During his magical seven-game stretch as a starter, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy has thrown just two interceptions and hasn’t thrown a single pick in his last three games.

It’s part of what has been really impressive about him.

But one Eagles defensive back knows exactly what it feels like to pick off Purdy.

“He threw it, one of our D-linemen batted it up in the air and instead of him just batting it down, he tipped it in the air,” practice squad cornerback Mario Goodrich said this week. “S--t, I just went to go get it for real. And then I just saw daylight.”

Goodrich picked off Purdy and took it the other way for an 18-yard pick six in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl as Clemson topped Iowa State 20-13.

That was the last college game for Goodrich and Purdy. Goodrich went undrafted and landed on the Eagles’ practice squad, while Purdy was the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft and, because of a couple injuries, eventually became the 49ers’ starting quarterback for this stretch run.

With Purdy standing in the Eagles’ path to Super Bowl LVII, NBC Sports Philadelphia spoke with three young Eagles defensive players who have faced him before to get a scouting report.

“He was very fundamental last year, I’d say,” Goodrich said. “He was trying to make all the right plays. This year, I feel it’s the same way. They put him in all the right plays for him to be successful.”

Rookie SAM linebacker Kyron Johnson knows more about Purdy than most after seeing him four times in his college career. Johnson played for a struggling Kansas Jayhawks team, and Purdy’s Iowa State squad got the best of him. In their careers, Purdy’s Cyclones were 4-0 against Johnson’s Jayhawks, and Purdy threw 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions in those four games.

“He’s a pretty good athlete,” Johnson said. “He’s one of those dudes if he sees an opportunity, he takes it. But he’s smart. He knows how to take over when he needs to. But he’s calm. He’s not too cocky, he don’t act cocky. He’s calm in the face of adversity. He’s one of those dudes that knows how to handle tough situations.”

But in their final college meeting, Johnson did get a strip sack on Purdy. Trying to get some hits on Purdy come Sunday will be key for the Eagles’ deep defensive line.

The Eagles’ defensive line rotation with Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, Milton Williams, Brandon Graham and more is as good as any unit in the NFL.

“I remember him being one of those quarterbacks, he can move in the pocket,” Johnson said. “But he’s young, too. You can get after him. And he’s also one of those young QB who ain’t had no licks on him yet. He ain’t been really hit like that yet.

“To just go back and think about how we used to scout him, he was a scramble QB if he couldn’t find anywhere to go. And he’s like a play-by-the-book dude. He does everything by the book.”

Second-year cornerback and special teams ace Zech McPhearson, who faced Purdy in 2019, really liked that description.

“By the book. That’s a great way to put it,” McPhearson said. “He’s a young quarterback. This is a big game for him. Coming in here, he better be by the book or it’s going to be tough for him. He’s just got to do his thing, whatever they tell him to do. But we’re going to put the pressure on him. We’re going to handle the receivers on the outside and go from there.”

Like Johnson, McPhearson’s Texas Tech team lost to Iowa State 34-24 in 2019. Purdy threw for 378 yards with 3 touchdowns and one interception in that game.

McPhearson knew that Goodrich once picked Purdy off and said he came close in his game against Purdy in 2019. McPhearson nearly had one but dropped it.

The Eagles can’t afford to drop picks on Sunday.

“Just from playing him in college, he needs to see a clear picture,” McPhearson said. “Every quarterback wants to see a clear picture, but he’s a synchronized quarterback. He just needs to see a clear picture. That’s all I remember from my coaches in college, playing against him. He’s talented for sure. He’s got a strong arm, he’s smart, he can run if it’s necessary. But just from going against him in college, that’s all I remember. Challenge the receivers, slow a release. That changes up his vision, his progression.”

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There’s no question that Purdy has been impressive during this stretch for the 49ers, but it seems like these young defensive players know what the Eagles have to do.

Hit Purdy, change his picture and try to force him into mistakes.

If and when he makes those mistakes, they need to capitalize.

“If we shut things down in the secondary and take away quick passes for him, just show him different things to get him rattled,” Goodrich said. “If we do that, I feel like we’ll come out victorious.”

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