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Brock Purdy's development aided by 49ers coach Brian Griese, study habits

How 49ers’ Griese has impacted development of studious Purdy originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Brock Purdy‘s rookie season wasn’t supposed to unfold like it has.

Purdy, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, impressed during 49ers training camp enough to beat out veteran Nate Sudfeld for the No. 3 quarterback spot on the depth chart behind Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. Like most seventh-round picks, Purdy planned to use his rookie season learning the San Francisco playbook from the veteran Garoppolo and watching the exciting 22-year-old Lance make a leap as the starting quarterback.

Obviously, that’s not how the unpredictable NFL season unraveled. Lance and Garoppolo both suffered season-ending injuries, leaving the keys to the talented 49ers’ offense to “Mr. Irrelevant.” But the rookie was ready for the moment, thanks to his lifelong obsession of studying the playbook and the tutelage from 49ers quarterbacks coach Brian Griese.

“Yeah, just like the baby steps, like the first level, of it and having Griese and [assistant quarterbacks coach] Klay Kubiak explain the playbook to me, I was like, man, this is so different from college, but I just kept chipping away at it,” Purdy said Thursday regarding his first impression of coach Kyle Shanahan’s playbook. “But I remember I was so excited back then to know it, get to that point, but there’s definitely levels to it. You don’t just learn it over a week or anything. It’s been a whole process and still, I’m not a 100 percent grounded in it yet. I definitely have a foundation, but there’s still more that I can learn and grasp.

“From where I’m at now to where I was Day 1, it’s crazy, but once you know the system, man, it’s awesome playing in it.”

Griese, who played 11 NFL seasons from 1998-2008, was hired in March to replace Rich Scangarello as the 49ers quarterbacks coach. Griese had spent the previous 13 years as an NFL analyst for ESPN and had never previously held a coaching job.

“Griese just does a good job of keeping it real,” Purdy said. “He doesn’t try to tell us one thing just to make you feel good or anything. He wants to win, and he tells us the truth and he is hard on us, especially in the meeting rooms and everything. … He does a great job of having the balance of being the discipline coach but also showing love and building you up, so he’s done a great job with it.

“It’s his first year, but I feel like he’s been coaching for 20, so it’s awesome.”

Of course, a teacher’s guidance is only effective if the student is willing to learn. Purdy always has been an obsessive learner, dating back to high school and his college days when he took the reins of the Iowa State offense as a wide-eyed freshman.

RELATED: Lance has second ankle surgery, expected back for 49ers OTAs

“I think he’s a guy who’s probably always been counted out and he is always trying every day to prove people wrong, and so I think his urgency, I bet, has always been there,” Shanahan said Friday. “I bet you that’s why he has been a starter as freshman and one of the leaders of his team even as a young college player, and I think he came here with that exact attitude [to win a Super Bowl].

“But I bet it was the first time he felt it from everybody. You don’t get that much in college, and I think you get that a lot in the NFL.”

Purdy’s attitude, confidence and eagerness to learn, combined with a former NFL quarterback showing him the ropes, has been the perfect recipe to allow an experienced 49ers roster to believe in the rookie and keep their Super Bowl plans intact.

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