April 19, 2024
Things are going so well for Brock Purdy right now that even his bad throws are yielding positive results. 

SANTA CLARA — Things are going so well for Brock Purdy right now that even his bad throws are yielding positive results.

It was in the second quarter of the 49ers’ 35-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday that Purdy tossed up a deep ball that might’ve given instant heartburn to anyone rooting for the home team.

Brandon Aiyuk was in the middle of double coverage about 40 yards downfield. If there was any opening to fit a ball in there, it required a telescope to find it. But that didn’t stop Purdy from launching one, a ball that could’ve been described as underthrown, but a ball that Purdy described as an “opportunity ball.”

Aiyuk noticed it just in time, darted in front of two defenders and seized the opportunity with a fingertip catch that pushed the 49ers into scoring position.

“I was trying to lead him to the right but there was a backside corner who came into the picture,” Purdy said. Aiyuk “did a great job adjusting and making a great play.”

It was one of 21 passes that Purdy threw on the day. He completed 20 of them, missing only a single pass on a throwaway during a third-and-long when he was under pressure.

“They told me I had one incompletion at the end of the game,” he said. “I was like, ‘oh my gosh.’”

He started the game 13-for-13, extending his streak of consecutive completions to 21. It topped the 20-completion streak that Steve Young had in 1996 and is behind Joe Montana’s mark of 22 in a row from 1987, when Montana set a new NFL record, snapping Ken Anderson’s mark of 20 in a row from 1983.

The record has since been broken many times and currently stands at 25 consecutive completions. There are four quarterbacks who share it: Ryan Tannehill (2015), Marcus Mariota (2018), Philip Rivers (2018) and Nick Foles (2018).

Despite snapping his streak later in the game, Purdy’s overall efficiency this season has left him with a 72% completion rate that is third in the NFL behind only Josh Allen (74%) and Lamar Jackson (73%).

It’s no accident, according to his teammates.

“I think he’s been studying his butt off in the offseason, really knows the offense more than he did last season,” said 49ers center Jake Brendel. “Coming down to his audibles, his checks, the efficiency he has on the line of scrimmage and in the huddle has been greatly improved. He’s been getting better every single week.”

Purdy, who is only 23 and under a team-friendly contract that’ll pay him less than $4 million in combined salary from 2022 through 2026, has yet to throw an interception through four games this season. Including the postseason, he hasn’t thrown a pick in seven consecutive games spanning more than 200 passing attempts.

Akin to Tom Brady early in his career, Purdy is finding a lot of his success thanks to his accuracy and timing. He’s often hitting receivers before they even look his way.

“I just think everyone in our offense, once we get the ball in their hands and they do something crazy with it,” he said. “We trust everybody.”

And they have a good reason to trust him; Purdy is now 9-0 in his regular season starts with a chance to start his career a perfect 10-0 with a big game against the Dallas Cowboys coming up next Sunday night.

“You can go down the list of what makes a quarterback good and he checks every box,” said Christian McCaffrey, who scored four of the team’s five touchdowns. “And then he has all the intangibles. That’s why he’s phenomenal. Then he brings the swagger and energy every day that makes him fun to be around. He’s quiet but very confident. He expresses that in the way he plays.”

Head coach Kyle Shanahan called Purdy “almost perfect” on Sunday. He said because the Cardinals defense wasn’t giving him many big throws, Purdy had to slowly pick them apart.

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When the field finally opened up later in the game, he hit Aiyuk on a few deep balls.

“He does what Kyle asks him to do,” said offensive lineman Colton McKivitz. “He puts it in the hands of our guys. He’s got weapons everywhere. He’s able to dish it out and go 20-for-21, that’s all you can ask a guy to do.

“He’s able to escape when needed. He’s a baller. You see the excitement when he makes plays. That guy, and who he is in the locker room, we’re fortunate to have him.”