How Shanahan gave Lynch confidence Purdy would succeed

  • Programming Note: Watch Matt Maiocco's interview with John Lynch on "49ers Game Plan" at 10:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday on NBC Sports Bay Area.

The 49ers were not interested in selecting a quarterback high in the 2022 NFL Draft. Instead, general manager John Lynch was expecting to sign a quarterback prospect as an undrafted free agent.

Quarterbacks coach Brian Griese and assistant Klay Kubiak, along with scout Steve Slowik and director of college scouting Tariq Ahmad, all had high opinions of Iowa State’s Brock Purdy.

“We liked him a lot during the draft process, so much that we waited until the last pick,” Lynch, with a laugh, told NBC Sports Bay Area in the latest episode of "49ers Game Plan," which debuted Wednesday night.

“But we did really like him. We didn’t have him in here on a 30 visit just to throw people off because he was a guy that (we wanted) late in the draft or as a free agent.”

The 49ers recruited Purdy in the event he would be available to sign with any team once the 262-player draft came to a conclusion.

“But we liked him enough we didn’t want to make it an issue, so we took him with that last pick,” Lynch said.

At that stage in the offseason, the 49ers still expected their quarterback depth chart to consist of Trey Lance as the starter and veteran Nate Sudfeld as the backup.

Eventually, when the team was unable to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, he accepted a pay cut to remain with the team.

As the offseason progressed, Purdy steadily earned the confidence of coach Kyle Shanahan.

The 49ers did not want to take any chances losing Purdy off the waiver wire, so he was retained on the team’s 53-man roster as the No. 3 quarterback while Sudfeld was cut.

“I will say from Day 1, [Purdy] engendered confidence with the way he’s conducted himself and, most importantly, the way he’s played,” Lynch said. “Every step of the way, he’s checked the box.”

Purdy demonstrated he could process information quickly and learn the intricacies of the offense. He also impressed the 49ers’ decision-makers with his guile, his ability to show nuances of his play, such as using his eyes and body to manipulate linebackers.

When the 49ers selected Purdy, Shanahan compared him to former San Francisco backup Nick Mullens. However, it became apparent early on that Purdy possesses a stronger arm and more athleticism.

Purdy entered the starting lineup in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins following Garoppolo’s foot injury, which is likely to end his season. Then, Purdy made his first NFL start Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

RELATED: Purdy questionable, Deebo out for Week 15 clash vs. Seahawks

Purdy has done his part to contribute to the six-game win streak the 49ers take into Thursday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.

“Did we know it would go as well as it has? Absolutely not,” Lynch said.

“I will say, Kyle was incredibly calm about the prospect of Brock playing, and that gave me confidence. I said, ‘If the guy who’s with him all the time feels this good about it, I’m going to feel good.’ And Brock, every step of the way, has earned that.”

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