Kittle explains how Purdy's college failures aided 49ers' win


The NFL playoff spotlight often proves to be too bright for young quarterbacks still finding their footing in the league. 

Not for 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. The 23-year-old shook off a rough first half Saturday at Levi's Stadium and finished with 332 passing yards and four total touchdowns to lead the 49ers to 41 points -- the highest of any team during Super Wild Card Weekend -- and a wild-card victory over the rival Seattle Seahawks.

“I think Brock’s experience in college [at Iowa State] really helped him today,” 49ers tight end George Kittle told NBC Sports' Peter King on Saturday. "Everything didn’t go well in the first half, but he came out in the second half and was totally confident in the huddle. You could feel it. When he’s confident, we’re confident, and he just makes us play at a higher level."

Purdy arrived in Ames, Iowa, as a teenager third on Iowa State's depth chart at quarterback. Due to injuries and underperformance from the two quarterbacks above him, Purdy's number was called as a freshman. He went on to win eight of 10 games as a first-year starter.

Sound familiar?

Purdy went on to play 48 contests over four seasons for Iowa State coach Matt Campbell and wrapped up his career as the Cyclones' career leader in just about every passing category.

"He’s been in a little trouble at halftime before," Kittle told King. "A lot of times, probably. He’s played from behind before; he’s played from ahead before. He has all the repetitions. Failure is a big part of learning to play quarterback in the NFL, and he had success and failure in college, so nothing here is really new for him."

With a perfect 6-0 record as a starting quarterback (1-0 in the playoffs), Purdy hasn't faced much failure in the NFL. But he did while building his career at Iowa State, such as the 27-21 loss to Oklahoma in the 2020 Big 12 Championship that erased the Cyclones' national title hopes.

“Football humbles you a lot," Kittle said. "I think when you’ve been humbled in college, you kind of realize how hard football is and you realize what it takes to win. I think Brock has realized that -- and he realizes failing is good for you on the road to success."

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Purdy has won over the 49ers' locker room led by Kittle and a group of star-studded veterans.

“What’s crazy to me is where he was drafted,” safety Jimmie Ward said Saturday on KNBR. “Was it because he’s a little short? His hand size? You gotta draft people for being players. This guy’s a dog.”

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