Brock Purdy admits increased arm strength as 49ers offense expands downfield

Nov 22, 2023, 12:00 PM | Updated: 1:22 pm

Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccan...

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After a full year of 49ers football under second-year sensation Brock Purdy, fans and pundits alike are all in agreement: Mr. Irrelevant is cooking.

The San Francisco 49ers gunslinger has amassed more than 4,000 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions in 17 games as a starter entering Week 11. Purdy only added to his total in that performance, becoming the first Red & Gold QB since 1989 to have a perfect passer rating Sunday.

But while his success on the field is nothing new, the incorporation of the deep ball has gotten the 49ers Faithful talking. And for good reason.

Brock Purdy had another long touchdown pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hitting wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk on the money for a 76-yard TD at the start of the third quarter. The week before, the QB stood tall in the pocket to fire a 66-yard strike to tight end George Kittle at the beginning of the second half. Both scores were Purdy’s longest TD throws of his NFL career, which is surprising, considering he had surgery to repair a torn UCL in March.

However, it’s not shocking to the QB, going through an intense rehab process with his throwing arm over the summer. Working each week on doing a little more, Purdy felt back to 100% by the start of training camp, able to sling the football downfield consistently.

“I’d probably say a couple weeks before camp started. There were times where I was ripping it around 50 yards to where I wanted it to be. To do it consistently, I feel like that was during camp,” Brock Purdy said Tuesday. “I was still trying to get to that point, build up that arm strength and everything and sort of work out the fatigue kind of thing. It’s been a work in progress starting back to camp, but I feel like once the season hit I was able to do it.”

There’s something different about his arm throughout his season: It looks stronger if you can believe it.

His teammates have noticed that as well, making light-hearted jokes that the 23-year-old kid has been in the weight room more often than before.

All jokes aside, the gunslinger does feel like his throwing arm has improved post-surgery. Purdy has worked with both personal coaches and the 49ers coaches to get his arm back to full speed. The difference in Year 2 though, is the demand the NFL lifestyle has a starting QB. For Purdy, that’s what has contributed to an increase in arm strength.

“Yeah. I do feel like just my pre and post routine of throwing has allowed my arm to get stronger just in general. Obviously, after the surgery it was recovered, but just my habits and stuff of what I’ve done in the NFL compared to college, it’s a night and day difference and I feel like it has helped my arm get stronger,” he said.

But like all QBs, sometimes you need a break from throwing to recharge the arm. Luckily, that came at the right time for Purdy, with the 49ers Week 9 bye coinciding with a three-game losing streak.

Between August and the end of October, the Arizona native had thrown a football almost every single day, causing fatigue to set in. Purdy has been open about this in the past, working with doctors and trainers alike to put his surgically repaired arm in the best position possible.

Part of that regiment from taking a week off on the bye, staying away from football almost entirely. That helped Purdy reset, both mentally and physically, to bounce back better than ever.

“Then obviously with the Bye Week too, that was huge, just to let my arm rest up and feel fresh again. So, all of those components added in, I feel like my arm has gotten stronger,” he added.

The numbers also support that claim as well.

Through 10 games, Brock Purdy is No.1 in completion percentage on throws of 20-plus yards (66.7%), third in yards (684) and second in passer rating (136.7). He also has a Pro Football Focus grade of 97.2, second in the NFL.

The point is: The 49ers offense has expanded thanks to Purdy’s newly-developed arm strength in 2023.

“I think it’s just another component the defense has to be aware about and respect in a sense,” Purdy explained. “You can obviously open up a lot of other things when there’s a threat of going deep. And that’s just what it is. We have a personnel where we can go deep and we have some speed.

“There’s opportunities when the defense gives the right look for us, and when we have the right play on, let’s let it rip and let’s take a shot, let’s take an opportunity. Even if it’s not a completion, it’s showing them we can stretch the ball down field.”

It also helps that the QB has such a great rapport with his weapons, especially Aiyuk.

The Purdy-BA connection showed signs of prominence early in training camp. On one particular day, Both Purdy and former 49ers QB Trey Lance connected with Aiyuk for a TD on four-straight dropbacks.

That connection between Aiyuk and Purdy has only continued into the regular season, so much so that it’s become the 49ers most-targeted combo of the year. Additionally, Aiyuk has four receiving scores in 2023, only behind running back Christian McCaffrey and Kittle (both have five).

While the latter players are already established Pro Bowl talents, Aiyuk is just bursting onto the scene of the elites in the NFL. Already at 871 receiving yards this season, the Rocklin native is on pace for close to 1500, a stat line that wouldn’t surprise anyone on the 49ers.

“Yeah, I have all the confidence in the world in B.A. You watch the film, the separation that he creates, you get the ball in his hands, obviously the second gear that he has to pull away from DBs or whoever’s on the field. He does it all. And I think he’s just one of the most underrated receivers I think in the NFL,” Brock Purdy said.

“We have so many playmakers, like Kittle, McCaffrey, [WR] Deebo [Samuel], but B.A. and what he’s done in his production as a receiver, he’s got it. And so, I have all the confidence in the world in him and he’s always where he needs to be and as a quarterback that’s all you could ask for.”

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Thursday, Nov. 23rd @ Seattle Seahawks – 5:20 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 3rd @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1:25 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 10th vs. Seattle Seahawks – 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 17th @ Arizona Cardinals – 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Monday, Dec. 25th vs. Baltimore Ravens – 5:15 p.m. PST

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