San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws a pass...

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws a pass during NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Credit: AP/Jeff Chiu

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Brock Purdy's brief time in the NFL has been a bit of a whirlwind with him going from “Mr. Irrelevant” to fill-in starter for a contender as a rookie to a MVP finalist and Super Bowl quarterback last season.

After spending the 2022 offseason preparing for the draft and learning an NFL offense and last offseason rehabilitating from major elbow surgery, Purdy finally has gotten the chance this spring to study his past play on film and then go out on the field to work on improvements.

"Last year he had to do it and then it would just be frustrating for him because he couldn’t really go work on it," coach Kyle Shanahan said.

"He had to just visualize and think about it and had to wait for that opportunity in training camp. This year right away it’s been awesome for him to lead us through the whole offseason, just drill wise and everything.”

A year ago at this time, Purdy had just started throwing again after undergoing surgery a few months earlier. He didn't get back into practice until the start of training camp in late July and then geared up for what proved to be a successful season.

Now with the ability to spend his time working on his craft and practicing instead of constant rehabilitation, Purdy feels he's far ahead of where he was a year ago in terms of knowing every aspect of the offense.

“At quarterback, you can obviously continue to work on your arm strength and all that kind of stuff, but I think just the way you process, the way you go through reads, you can’t get enough reps,” he said.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, left, throws a pass...

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, left, throws a pass in front of assistant quarterbacks coach Klay Kubiak during NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Credit: AP/Jeff Chiu

“That’s where I’m at. Watching the game tape, coming into practice and running those plays right now during OTAs for me is huge. Getting better with different concepts and getting more comfortable and familiar more and more with the verbiage.”

Purdy was outstanding last season when he set a franchise record for yards passing (4,280), became the first Niners QB in more than two decades to throw at least 30 TD passes (31), and led the league in both passer rating (113) and yards per attempt (9.6).

He finished fourth in MVP voting and led three go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter and overtime of the Super Bowl that the 49ers eventually lost to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

But Purdy and his coaches still see plenty of areas where he can work to improve.

“I think we can continue to get better at our progressions, foot work, how we manage games, situational awareness, things that all quarterbacks have to continue to get better at,” quarterbacks coach Brian Griese said.

“It’s a confidence thing. When you first come here it’s a lot. You’re swimming mentally, and it’s hard to be assertive and demonstrative and be a leader when you’re thinking a whole lot about your job. Definitely I’ve seen Brock grow in those areas.”

Purdy's play on the field has elevated his fame off it as he has gone from a seventh-round pick who could walk around town without being recognized to a full-fledged star.

He recently threw out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game, was up on stage with country music star Luke Combs during a concert at Levi's Stadium and has become a pitch man for several products.

But Purdy doesn't want the new-found fame to change him in any way.

“I just try to keep it simple in terms of who I am as a person, as a human," he said. "There are people that come up and want pictures. I was that kid growing up and I always wanted whoever I was looking up to or whatever to give time and just be a human and talk and take a picture, sign some stuff. I always remember that. Throughout all this, the offseason stuff and doing different things, I try to give back to people as best as I can, and not be on a pedestal or anything like that.”

One change, Purdy's coaches and teammates have seen is an increasing willingness to speak up and become more of a leader around the team as he has grown from a late-round rookie to a respected veteran on a team full of them.

That was one of the areas that Griese wanted to see growth.

"I know it’s no small feat to be the face of a franchise and the leader of an organization,” Griese said. “That takes time to get the confidence and be comfortable in that position and understand all the little things that you do during the course of the day, a week or a month that blend into that. ... Brock is growing in that area. That’s really cool.”

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