SANTA CLARA — Coach Kyle Shanahan told 49ers general manager John Lynch something in private that he expected would remain there for a while.
It was early in training camp before the 2022 NFL season, and the 49ers expected to enter the campaign with Trey Lance as the starting quarterback and veteran Nate Sudfeld as the backup.
But, then, Shanahan saw enough in Brock Purdy, the final pick of that year’s draft, to make him reconsider the arrangement on the team's depth chart.
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Shanahan believed Purdy was on his way toward becoming the best quarterback on the 49ers’ roster.
CEO Jed York relayed the story on Thursday about when Shanahan shocked him with his opinion that the little-known Purdy would end up as the 49ers’ top quarterback.
“I was there when he told Jed that,” Lynch said on Friday. “My jaw hit the floor.
“He told me that, but . . . Kyle often runs things by me to see if they’re crazy.”
San Francisco 49ers
The quick update from coach to top management came at a time when veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was going through physical therapy following offseason shoulder surgery. The 49ers were intent on trading Garoppolo before the start of the regular season.
Purdy beat out Sudfeld for a roster spot, and the 49ers retained Garoppolo on a greatly reduced contract. Garoppolo opened the season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Lance, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Most expected Purdy had a chance to remain with the 49ers on the practice squad. But based on Shanahan’s early observations, there was no chance the 49ers would take the chance of allowing Purdy to get away.
“Kyle and I had been talking,” Lynch said. “We liked Brock early. But it was in a really limited fashion that we’d seen him. So I think we had a hunch that we had a chance to have something special, and Kyle is about as direct a person. He’s really easy to work with because there’s no gray area.”
Purdy got his chance after injuries to Lance and Garoppolo. And Purdy's performance after entering the lineup was more than enough for him to earn the starting job permanently.
Less than two years later, Purdy is firmly planted as the 49ers’ starter and leads the organization into Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.
Purdy was voted as the NFC Pro Bowl starter and a finalist for NFL MVP honors after leading the league with a passer rating of 113.0.