The path for Brock Purdy to find himself where he is today is a winding one. Myriad things had to go right (and wrong) for the 49ers to discover Purdy, be in a position where they could select him and then have him turn into the savior of their season.
General Manager John Lynch joined Murph and Mac on Thursday morning and detailed the process that led the 49ers to him.
At the time, in the offseason, the 49ers didn’t expect to retain Jimmy Garoppolo. Lynch said Kyle Shanahan wanted the team to add at “another young quarterback, just to add into the mix,” preferably later in the draft.
Back then, Nate Sudfeld was expected to be the backup quarterback behind Trey Lance. San Francisco guaranteed him $2 million, a strong indicator he was the likely No. 2.
Lynch credited one man in particular for stumping for Purdy: Steve Slowik, the brother of Bobby Slowik, the team’s passing game coordinator. Lynch also recalled playing for their father, Bob Slowik, a member of Mike Shanahan’s coaching staff in Denver.
Steve Slowik is currently a pro scout, assessing other teams in the league, but was previously an area scout responsible for the area including Purdy’s school, Iowa State.
“Steve Slowik always was a big Brock Purdy fan and when you talk to him, he said you can’t not be,” Lynch said. “Because you talk to the head coach Matt Campbell and everybody at that school and that program really ascended out of nowhere and a lot of people credited Matt Campbell. If you asked Matt Campbell, as much as anyone, he would credit Brock Purdy.”
What’s interesting is that many people expected Purdy to go pro after his junior year. At that point, Lynch said the 49ers had a higher grade on him in their system than they did following his senior year. That may have allowed the 49ers to get him.
“He came back his senior year and maybe dipped, so when you’re kind of identifying the back of the draft quarterbacks, we always hand them over to the assistant coaches,” Lynch said. “Our assistant coaches get in the process a little bit later. And so Brian Griese, who was new, and Klay Kubiak, they probably took a bucket of eight, nine guys and they came out very convicted that Brock Purdy was a guy they wanted to work with whether it be drafting late or as a priority free agent.”
At that point, it’s a matter of figuring out whether you can afford to draft a quarterback. It wasn’t a glaring need for the 49ers, who had other positions to deal with, and believed they had a capable No. 2 in Sudfeld
But when it got to the end of the draft — the point when teams start reaching out to and recruiting priority free agents — Lynch said it made too much sense to draft him:
“We’d kind of gone through our checklist of things we really wanted on our roster, needed on our roster. And so we got there to the Mr. Irrelevant and I think we all just kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Why chance it? We really like Brock.’
By this time, Brian Griese, Klay Kubiak had done a lot of work with them via zooms. And just like Steve Slowik had become convicted via the talks with Matt Campbell, we got a little insight as to who the kid was and they were just very, very convicted that he was a guy we wanted to add.
So we kind of said, ‘Alright, let’s let’s not leave it to chance. I know Mr. Irrelevant is cute and all that but let’s make him part of us.’ And so we did. Man, I’m sure glad we did.
The fact that Purdy beat out Sudfeld at all was a surprise, and probably should have been an indication to take him a bit more seriously.
But with Lance and Garoppolo ahead of him in the pecking order, no one expected him to helm the team or play any significant minutes, let alone at all.
Yet here we are on January 12, with Purdy, having led six-straight wins, two days away from his first career playoff start and looking, potentially, like the future of the franchise.
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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