Jed York: Kyle Shanahan knew Brock Purdy was 49ers best QB in 2022

Feb 1, 2024, 3:30 PM | Updated: 3:56 pm

Trey Lance #5 and Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers on the field before the game against t...

Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Long before the lore of Brock Purdy aka Mr. Irrelevant started a game for the 49ers, Kyle Shanahan believed he would be the guy under center for San Francisco long-term. At least according to Jed York.

The 49ers owner spoke to the media Thursday ahead of Super Bowl LVIII week. In the midst of his impromptu presser, York was asked about his relationship with Shanahan and how the two have worked together over the years. The Red & Gold owner shared that the younger Shanahan coach is more direct than other organizational leaders in years past, giving an example with the story of Brock Purdy making the 53-man roster his rookie season.

Back in the summer of 2022, Purdy wasn’t a household name, entering his first season in the NFL with a chance to be the team’s practice squad quarterback.

Both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were ahead of Purdy on the depth chart. Even journeyman QB Nate Sudfeld was seen as the favorite over the rookie to make SF’s roster that year. It all changed in a matter of days, however, with Purdy lighting up training camp with the limited reps he got.

After the first week or so, Kyle Shanahan asked to speak with York about the current state of the QB room. And while the team wanted to give Trey Lance the keys to the kingdom, Shanahan shared a prediction that startled the owner initially.

“Last year in the preseason, I think week one of training camp. You have a quarterback that we’re paying I think $20 million to, you have a guy that you drafted, investing three first-round picks into. And he grabbed me after practice and said ‘Hey man, we got to talk’. And that’s generally not a good thing,” York shared Thursday. “‘Alright, what’s up’ and he’s like, ‘I think our third-string quarterback is our best quarterback'”.

Expectably, Jed York was alarmed at first by the revelation, especially given the circumstances.

At that point, Trey Lance had only played in six contests, set to take over as QB1 after a fractured wrist ended his rookie year. Additionally, the team’s former starting QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, was still on the roster recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Because of the hurdles ahead of Purdy, Shanahan told York that nothing would change with the depth chart at that time. Lance was still the guy, and Garoppolo was Plan B if the former got hurt again.

While York wasn’t thrilled with Shanahan’s omission, he commended his coach for how he handled the situation.

But honesty is Shanahan’s calling card, with the following statement being the takeaway.

“‘I think Brock will end up being our quarterback at some point,'” York continued to relay from his conversation with the 49ers coach. “And, he didn’t force it. But he had two injuries and that’s how Brock ended up playing. But he’s always honest, one thing that owners don’t love to hear when they’ve invested money and draft picks or both into people, that the last pick in the draft is the guy. That’s generally not great news.

“But he’s honest, and he let it play out the right way.”

While Shanahan may have known the talent Purdy possessed early on, for it to work out the way it did is astonishing in itself.

Purdy, 24, took over the starting job for the 49ers in Week 13 of the 2022 season against the Miami Dolphins. Garoppolo suffered a fractured foot in the second quarter of the contest, thrusting Mr. Irrelevant into the spotlight.

Purdy lived up to the moment, throwing for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 33-17 win. The following week, Purdy delivered in his first start, throwing for 185 yards and three total TDs against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Arizona native hasn’t looked back since, going 21-5 as a starter in the NFL.

Now set to start in his first Super Bowl, Purdy continues to prove Shanahan right that he was the man the 49ers had been looking for all along.

Fate has a funny way of working out sometimes.

Key dates for Brock Purdy, Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers

  • Sunday, Feb. 11th – Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas
  • Tuesday, Feb. 20th – Teams can begin franchising players until Tuesday, March 5th
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27 – NFL Combine begins

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