Purdy knows ‘the truth’ about outsiders’ game-manager label

SANTA CLARA — 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy did a 360-degree spin to avoid pressure from a collapsing pocket.

He rolled to his right while keeping his eyes downfield and motioned for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to move into an opening in the end zone.

Purdy set his feet and delivered the pass for a 17-yard touchdown that helped the 49ers pull away from the Washington Commanders to clinch the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed.

During the course of his time as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, Purdy routinely has made plays out of structure or found open receivers who were not even in the progression.

Yet, some still attempt to diminish Purdy’s accomplishments by referring to him as a “system quarterback.”

“Everyone can have their opinion on that,” Purdy told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive interview on “49ers Talk.” “But for myself, for my teammates, I guess we sort of know the truth because literally we’re playing and we’re making plays and doing it really every Sunday. And so we know the truth.”

Purdy routinely executes coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense precisely as designed.

But when protection breaks down or other elements of a play do not go as planned, Purdy also has shown a remarkable ability to improvise.

It is clear that anyone who labels him as a system quarterback is not paying particularly close attention.

“It’s not something I look at and get mad about or angry,” Purdy said. “People can think what they think. If you’re really watching the games, it shows up from time to time.

“And the other part of that is, I sort of take it as a compliment. Being a game manager and a system quarterback, I feel like if you can do that well, and be consistent in that, you’re going to win games by doing that.”

Purdy has won a lot of games since taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 of the 2022 season. The 49ers are 18-4 in the regular season with him at quarterback.

He set single-season franchise records this season with 4,280 passing yards and a 113.0 passer rating. He was chosen as the NFC’s Pro Bowl starter.

Yet, Purdy — one of the great stories for his rise from the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft — still is the subject of some skeptics. Former MVP quarterback Cam Newton has used the term “game manager” in a less-than-flattering way.

Purdy, 24, has a mature, pragmatic approach. He understands that criticism comes with playing the most high-profile position in sports.

“There are going to be things you end up hearing, that you’ll see on some TVs as you’re walking by. It happens,” Purdy said. “But, yeah, it’s something over the years from college all the way up to this point, you sort of get used to it.”

“There are a lot of people who say all these different things, but is that really reality? Is that true? Those are things you learn as you go.”

Purdy attempts to insulate himself from the chatter. But he says at times he will learn of things being said by teammates or others. Then, he tries to move on with his business without giving it much thought.

“I don’t take that and throw it on to fuel my fire or anything like that,” he said. “For me, it’s like, man, I know who I am and what I’m trying to do for this team. I have to execute consistently every week. I have to prove it to myself every week and my team more than anything every week.

“I hear some things, but I don’t get wrapped up in it and live for it. That’s just the truth.”

The truth is all the talk is just talk.

How much credit does Purdy deserve for the 49ers winning enough games to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC entering the final week of the season?

The mere fact that the question is being asked reflects well on Purdy. After all, it means the 49ers are winning.

Beyond that, he said nothing else really matters, especially the labels, such as “game manager,” intended as criticism.

“If you’re in the NFL playing quarterback, there is little room for error,” Purdy said. “So if you’re getting criticized for making the right decisions and not making a lot of flashy plays but winning, I don’t know, I feel like you have to start looking at your judgment and stuff.

“You look at the greats, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, there were so many games where they played and made consistent plays and decisions. It may not be flashy but at the end of the day they protect the ball, they allow their defense to play and they win games. It’s a team sport for a reason, and that’s part of (playing) our position.”

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