Brock Purdy

Young uses ‘Star Wars' intangible to describe Purdy's potential

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“Don’t underestimate the Force.”

Movie villain Darth Vader uttered that phrase in the 1977 classic “Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope.” It’s also what 49ers legend Steve Young uses to describe the potential of second-year quarterback Brock Purdy.

“There’s a processing. I call it ‘the Force’ -- a Star Wars analogy,” Young recently said to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco at the American Century Classic at Edgewood Tahoe Resort. “Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s something you can’t describe. It’s just someone has the force.

“Quarterbacking is that way. When I see someone who has ‘the Force,’ I don’t know how to tell you all the intricacies at what makes that. You can just tell. Brock had it so thick. It’s like Luke Skywalker -- right away, he had it. He’s not the biggest guy. He’s not the fastest guy, he’s not the strongest arm. But he has the Force, and maybe as strong as anybody who’s played.”

Purdy is preparing to write the next chapter of his storybook rookie season when he made the dramatic climb from Mr. Irrelevant to improbably leading the 49ers to eight consecutive wins as the primary quarterback, including two postseason victories. His limited size and average arm strength were big reasons why he fell into the 49ers' lap at No. 262 overall, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.

But Purdy's leadership and poise on the field immediately stood out to coaches and teammates. Back in February, 49ers tight end George Kittle named three moments when he bought into Purdy's potential to be a legitimate NFL quarterback -- when he chirped back in OTAs, when he delivered a laser pass in a preseason game, and the first snap he took against the Miami Dolphins after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending injury.

"In the very first play, [Purdy] comes in, it's cover zero, and he delivers," Kittle said to "Pro Football Talk" during Super Bowl week. "If a guy can do that and he's OK with pressure and getting hit, doesn't flinch, you can win games.

"After that, we were confident."

The 49ers Faithful knows the rest of the story by heart. Purdy beat the Dolphins, took down Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following week and led San Francisco to finish the regular season at 13-4. Playoff wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys only added to Purdy's underdog story.

Now, the 23-year-old quarterback has to live up to what he did as a rookie. The 49ers are expecting to contend for a Super Bowl, and they plan to have Purdy starting under center if he recovers in time from offseason elbow surgery.

There are some questioning if Purdy can do it again. But Young offered a warning to the Mr. Irrelevant -- er, Mr. Relevant -- doubters.

"I don’t want to limit what Brock could be," Young told Maiocco. "It’s easy to say the last person [taken] in the draft -- his size, arm strength and everything else -- there’s limitations. Talking about Brock Purdy, I don’t think you should speak that way.

"Because I think he’s the kind of guy that is going to make you look like a dummy."

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