Why Purdy views time at Iowa State as ‘blessing in disguise'


Brock Purdy spent his college career as Iowa State's starting quarterback, where he experienced the glory of victory and agony of defeat plenty of times across a four-year span.

After helping the 49ers advance to the NFC Championship Game with a divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the rookie reflected on how his college days shaped him into the player he is today.

"[Playing at Iowa State] taught me how to be real about myself," Purdy told NBC Sports' Peter King. "I learned so much just with winning and being successful and then also losing some big games. I learned how to overcome some things, believe in myself, but also not be too high when things are great, or just because you’ve lost a couple games doesn’t mean you’re horrible."

Purdy, picked last by San Francisco in the 2022 NFL Draft, has yet to lose a game as the 49ers' starter since taking over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins.

He saw similar success during his junior year at Iowa State, leading the Cyclones to one of their best seasons in school history with a 9-3 record, Fiesta Bowl victory and No. 9 ranking in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll.

His senior season didn't go quite as well at 7-6, but Purdy believes that might have been for the better, given what his future held.

"Honestly it was a blessing in disguise because when I came here for the NFL, I was already used to the sport being hard, and being coached hard, and it was always, ‘How can I get better?’ I think it’s allowed me to have some success," Purdy told King.

Purdy's teammate and favorite target, George Kittle, recently shared a similar outlook on Purdy's college career with NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. The tight end believes Purdy's ability to bounce back after mistakes stems from his time as a Cyclone.

"If you’re the reason you lost, being able to bounce back from that and maintain your confidence, that’s an acquired skill set,” Kittle told Maiocco on the "49ers Talk" podcast. “Not everybody has that. If you’ve won your entire life, you might not know how to bounce back, especially when the pressure is at its highest.”

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell told King that the team's success often depended on Purdy and Purdy alone. He has more support now that he's throwing to the 49ers' offense, but those days in Iowa taught him how to deal with pressure early on.

“Not only did Brock have to have the maturity to come here, but then he has success right away and they put him on a pedestal,” Campbell told King. “They crown him king right away. You [got to] deal with the pressure, no different than an NFL quarterback. They’re expecting him to play elite all the time when we don’t have elite players always around him. We had some really good players around him but not like what he’s got right now.

"Learning how to fail was huge. It’s something we talked about a lot, quite honestly, in our program ...There was no [Christian] McCaffrey here, no Deebo [Samuel], no [Brandon} Aiyuk, no elite defense. In our program, he was trusted, he was an elite competitor, and he was tough. When you have those three qualities, there’s not many in our society that have all three of them. I think you’re seeing all of them come to fruition right now at the highest level.”

RELATED: Why Eagles' Sirianni followed 'winner' Purdy closely in college

Purdy since has used that adversity to show the world Mr. Irrelevant is nothing but a name.

He'll face his biggest challenge yet against the Eagles on Sunday in Philadelphia, but the rookie already has shown he can handle any situation -- win or lose -- with poise.

“When I first got in against Miami,” Purdy told King, “it was like, ‘Man, I’m playing in the NFL. I’m showing the guys I can play.’ But that goes away. You have to do the job. At this point, it’s playoff football and all I can think about is what I have to do for my team. I don’t make it more than what it is. But yeah, to say that we’re going to the NFC Championship Game, obviously, I’m very thankful and blessed to even be in this position.”

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