49ers Mailbag: The differences between Brock Purdy and Jimmy Garoppolo

A ten-game win streak to finish the regular season is outstanding. Getting six of those wins with your third string quarterback is nearly unheard of.

The unbelievable performance of Brock Purdy, the final player taken in the draft has been one of the more amazing stories in the NFL this season. In fact, it’s been so good that I have limited this week’s mailbag to just one question.

Ryan Hensley, @ryanghensley– “Brock Purdy’s passing numbers are surprisingly similar to Jimmy Garoppolo’s, but the offense has been able to score more. What’s the difference?”

This is a fantastic question which doesn’t have one simple answer

The addition of Christian McCaffrey jumpstarted the offense. In ten starts with the 49ers McCaffrey has averaged just under 114 yards and one touchdown per game.

With Garoppolo at quarterback and McCaffrey in the lineup the 49ers offense averaged 26 points per game. Meanwhile, Brock Purdy has led San Francisco to an average of 33.6.

Purdy has given the 49ers a more explosive passing game. The rookie quarterback has completed five of 12 pass attempts over 20 yards downfield, four of those going for touchdowns. That is much more efficient than Garoppolo who hit only eight of 28 deep throws with one touchdown.

The efficiency Purdy provides extends to the redzone. In this area of the field Purdy has completed 13 of 17 attempts, thrown six touchdown passes and ran for a score. That’s a touchdown on roughly 35 percent of Purdy’s attempts. Garoppolo was 26 of 43 with 12 touchdown throws and a pair of rushing scores, a touchdown percentage of 28.

San Francisco’s offensive explosion has also been aided by the defense and special teams. Of the 49ers 112 points scored over the last three weeks, 43 have come on drives of less than 35 yards following big plays by these two units.

The 49ers scored 20 points in the second half against Washington. On those four scoring drives the 49ers offense went 34, 6, 8 and 33 yards. The first touchdown came after the defense forced a turnover on downs. An interception and strip sack led to a pair of field goals before Washington’s onside kick attempt went sideways to give San Francisco possession at the Commanders 33.

Against Las Vegas two weeks ago San Francisco’s offense went up and down the field for most of the game. Still, the deciding factor in the 49ers come from behind win was a pair of interceptions. The first resulted in a game tying field goal. The second led to Robbie Gould’s game winner.

Against Arizona on Sunday the 49ers defense set the offense up inside the Cardinals 35 three times. Tashaun Gipson’s first interception put the ball at the Arizona 18. Elijah Mitchell scored his first touchdown of the game a few plays later. Gipson struck for his second interception to end Arizona’s first possession after halftime. His 23-yard return set the 49ers offense up at the Cardinals 28. Robbie Gould hit a field goal a few pays later. Arizona’s next possession ended when Jordan Willis sacked Cardinals quarterback David Blough, leading to a fumble recovery for Michael Dwumfour at the Arizona 28. Brock Purdy finished the possession off by hitting George Kittle for the touchdown and the rout was on.

As you can see, the 49ers success in recent weeks has been a testament to complementary football.

This article has 55 Comments

  1. Geno has been shaky lately. He’s going to gift wrap at least 14 points for the 49ers offense.

    1. Seattle is a solid team and did better than many expected. We need to be on our toes for this game. Seattle may still be a thorn in our side.
      Yes, KS has, for nearly day one, been more confident in Purdy. He was never so complimentary of Trey or Jimmy G.
      Still Purdy \ needs to keep improving and if he does, he will start next year. He appears determined to learn and improve. Let us hope Jimmy G can back him up in the playoffs!

  2. Jack
    I would add one more difference between BP and JG! KS trusts BP more, and IMO it shows in the plays he selects, especially KS trusts BP’s decision making, better mobility and his ability to pass effectively (no int’s). I also believe that trust has resulted in KS opining the offense up and has contributed to the 9ers 10 game winning streak.

    1. I agree 100%. Kyle absolutely trusts Purdy more. He’s more willing to dial up pass plays on the goaline and more willing to dial up shot plays. How many times has our offense gotten the ball with 1-2 minutes left in the first half with Jimmy, just to run the clock out on ourselves with runs and milking the clock? That says everything you need to know. With Jimmy, Kyle wants to not F things up. With Purdy, he’s aggressive. Which is crazy, considering Purdy is a rookie and Jimmy is a veteran.

    2. agree. Purdy in many ways was identified and chosen by KS as early as camp. It cost the Niners $2 million to keep Purdy so KS really lobbied for him. You may recall that I lobbied for Purdy from early in camp myself. I just had an intuition.

      1. She did. Okay maybe she had no say in the organization, but she did tout Purdy from the start, back when it was ludicrous to think that Purdy should be starting. She took a ton of heat but you have to hand it to her. She stood by her comments and now we’re seeing just how well he’s playing: in fact he’s performing better than Trey and Jimmy.

        Remains to be see if he can continue to impress through next year, but his accuracy and decision making alone makes me think that defenses are going to have a hard time stopping the guy. If he works on arm strength and bulking up a bit (without losing mobility) to be able to absorb some hits, watch out!

  3. I am curious how many times per game Jimmy G was sacked Vs. how many times per game B. Purdy was sacked? Also how many holding penalties while JG was the QB Vs. how many holding penalties while Purdy was at QB?

    1. I also wonder how often pressure effected Jimmy’s effectiveness at getting a pass off; either to the right receiver or accurately….and compare that to Purdy.

      1. allforfunnplay
        Good question….I can’t quantify it, but it’s obvious when BP moves in the picket while keeping his eyes downfield on his receivers, then delivers a strike for a first down, with a defender in his face.
        Opposed to JG, who would backpedal, throw a duck off the wrong foot for an int. And unfortunately that critical mistake would determine the outcome of the game.

        1. Purdy, has shown the ability to time an on-rushing defender and make a quick stop & go move to avoid being tackled. Purdy, also seems to have an innate ability to quickly process when to throw the ball away when the need arises.
          These are a couple of important advantages that Jimmy does not have. I only have one more box to check on Brock, and that is can he win a playoff game?
          I have confidence that he can, but we won’t really know until it happens.

          But, before I get caught up in the Purdy hype, I also know, that Shanahan has put him in a great position to succeed. All BP has to do is get the ball to Kittle, Deebo, Aiyuk, Jennings, CMC and now Eli Mitchell. It would almost be a sin if a QB couldn’t succeed with all these weapons.

          1. AES
            I believe that you’d agree that QB coach Brian Griese has also contributed to Purdy’s great success
            in adjusting to, and playing at a high level, in the NFL?

            1. GEEP,
              You are right. Griese has been a great QB coach and mentor. He deserves high praise.
              I mentioned Shanahan and should also include Lynch because they have put this team together “brick by brick” to what is arguably one of the best offensive teams in the NFL. That being said, I happen to believe that almost any QB could find success in this offense.

    2. The big unnoticed question is will Purdy bail out the GM and KS from the disastrous three-round picks trade for trey? Clearly, we know now that it was although several of us thought it was a bad trade at the time. But if Purdy is our franchise QB, we got him on a fluke and paid nothing to get him. One huge success can cover a terrible error.

      1. allie
        Lance is only a disaster if he’s a bust! That decision is a year (maybe 2) from being made.
        * Lance and Purdy will compete for the starting job next year. IMO, Purdy will be the starter, but since both are on rookie contracts, (cheap), the 9ers will keep both.
        * Lance will be given a chance to develop, if for no other reason than the investment the 9ers have made in him, and the 9ers will make every effort to train him to recoup their investment.
        * Once Lance is capable of being an NFL starting QB, (IMO, that will take a year, maybe 2), he will then compete with Purdy to be the 9er starting QB. If Lance still can’t beat out Purdy, he will then be traded for draft picks.

  4. Sounds like Jimmy G hater Grant Cohen write this… Difference between JG and Purdy? Purdy hasn’t got hit, hasn’t won a playoff game… Farewell to JG, we’re waiting for him in NY with open arms, you keep your freshman!

    1. Jimmy G. has never won a playoff game either, at least by his play on the field. He has always just been a passenger that Shanahan was desperate to hide, hoping the other team doesn’t notice him. Whenever Jimmy was called upon to actually “win” a playoff game he would be incapable of even completing a pass as has been seen in the 4th quarter of the the Super Bowl and last years Championship Game. Hopefully Brock Purdy can do better, hard to be worse than playoff Jimmy.

      P.S. – You are welcome to him in NY. I look forward to seeing him perform elsewhere.

  5. Another difference is Psychology. Jimmy plays scare. He is under media scrutiny for always getting hurt and making mistake. Purdy plays worried-free, and takes chances.
    Anyways, The D should expect the Seahawks to bomb deep passes on first series like the Dolphins and Cardinals did. Teams have used Hufanga’s aggressiveness against him. Practice of this week should be on long passes and avoiding PIs. Another area is Seattle’s trick plays on special team. Metcalf will be a handful if the pass rush does not get there in time. Lockett is dangerous and Geno S. can also scramble. Go Niners!!!!

    1. RednGold
      * After Ryans openly criticized Hufanga for displaying poor eye discipline in recent weeks, after he conceded several big plays on coverage busts, there were no such problems for Hufanga in the regular-season finale! * Lenoir however, continued losing the battle for the ball at the catch point on A.J. Green’s opening touchdown.
      While Lenoir’s overall play has improved, he is IMO the 9ers weak link of their DB’s. (9ers miss e-man!

    2. Sure, there are psychological aspects to JG’s play. But, let’s be fair in saying that he has done a great job in overcoming them.
      1. There’s the knee injury that put him on the shelf for the season 4 years ago.
      2. There’s the overthrown pass in the endzone to Sanders that could have changed the momentum of the game during the SB.
      3. There’s the intentional work-stoppage by the 49ers in Jimmy’s TC practice and activities.

      In all the these cases Jimmy would always rise to the occasion and help the team win much more often than not.
      Jimmy likely won’t be back next season, but he deserves high praise for showing great character and the ability to shake off the misfortunes that he has encountered while on the 49ers.

      Let’s see if Purdy can show the same human resiliency after he’s had to miss extended time with a major injury. Or, after he’s been shut down in TC even though he’s been cleared to practice.
      Psychology does play a large part in sports. Let’s hope that Purdy can show the same courage in overcoming the tough times as well as Jimmy has.

      I believe in giving credit where it’s due and Garoppolo is definitely due to receive his.

  6. Good coaching! KS should be in the running for COY. BP is talented, cocky, and coachable. The Niners coaching staff did an excellent job with Purdy, and got rewarded big time. Such an amazing story! The players will follow Purdy to hell and back, and that’s saying a lot for a rookie.

  7. Brock is very impressive for a rookie but statistically he is almost identical to Jimmy which is a hell of an accomplishment. Results are also close, even though there is a 5 point advantage for Purdy but some of that is attributed to the improved defense. While I look at the results as similar, Brock probably has upside since he’s only played in 6 games. I’m Looking forward to the playoffs and how the Niners and Brock fare.

  8. Idk why anyone in SF is talking about Jimmy anyway, we all know he’ll be somewhere else, and I wish him well. He came in and won a bunch of games, got us routinely in the playoffs, no need to discredit him, he’s a fast release accurate QB (I’d say back to NE makes sense). The question should be;

    “Who’s better for the 49ers, Purdy or Lance?”

  9. I agree with Carl – no need to piss on Jimmy G. Brock is now a proven top NFL QB but so is Jimmy. At least until events show otherwise. Trey has yet to show this. I would suggest try working with Jimmy G to see if he will reduce his salary again and re-sign for a 2-3 year contract with bonuses structured similar to this year. No presumption of starting to anyone. Trade Trey for a future draft pick and secure a better third-string QB. Trey is not needed now and Trey has this potential to be a future star for a team willing to part with a pick and take up his salary. Jimmy G and Brock can compete for the starting job next year.

    1. I don’t believe Jimmy would resign with the Niners. I pretty sure he’s going to get a start8ng job with another team. I also don’t believe Trey is going anywhere. He still has the same potential upside.

    2. Good points. But I don’t see JG taking another pay cut to stay with the 49ers. Remember that Garoppolo was working on perhaps his best season before his injury.
      That should be attractive to a team in need of QB with a proven winning track record.
      There will be much bigger money for Jimmy with the possibility of starting elsewhere.

  10. The biggest concern for the 49ers this off season is the cap. There is no way they can sign Jimmy G in fact if Purdy looks good in the playoffs I think they should trade Lance. More teams are in dire need of a QB this off season then I have ever seen before. I think the 9ers could get a late first and possibly a second for Lance and save approx. 10 mill on the cap. By not resigning JG and Ekuban and trading Lance cutting or trading Kinlaw they can save around 35 mill on the cap. It is estimated that the cap will go up 20 to 25 mill. That gives the 9ers 55 to 60 mill to play with. Restructuring Armstead and Kittle could save another 5 to 8 mill. With all of those savings the 9ers could pretty much resign all of their FA’s with a little room to sign a couple middle of the road FAs off of other teams. We also would have a 1st, 2nd and three 3rds in the upcoming draft. For those worried about a #2 QB T. Bridgewater, D. Jones, A. Dalton and Jarret Stidham will all be available this off season

    1. I think Dalton was impressive against us a few weeks ago. Good backup.
      I like Trey’s character but worry he has not been accurate in his throws when he has been in there. I realize he has been injured but….

    2. They aren’t getting rid of Trey or Kinlaw. They still believe in both those guys. That makes no sense. They already have a plan on signing those they want to keep.

    3. If Lance looks very good in TC, I don’t see the 49ers trading him. He is still under a rookie contract which won’t cause a financial burden. Signing a vet QB may likely cost more.

      I would really like to see what a healthy Lance can do with this hybrid offense before any trade takes place.

  11. I don’t think they want to get rid of Lance or Kinlaw but since the advent of the salary cap that is just the way football works. As to them having a plan, I hope they do and who knows maybe part of that plan is trading Lance and Cutting or trading Kinlaw. Keeping Lance I understand that would be mostly a money move. Why do you think they need to keep Kinlaw at 10 mill a year? They have Armstead, Hyder, Ridgeway, Givens, McGill and a possible star in Davis sounds like a pretty good group to me.

    1. I think your suggestions make a lot of sense, Old Coach. Btw, how old are you really? I’m 76. Can you beat that?

      Re Lance, I think Purdy has proven himself able to supercharge the offense and, presumably, has taught Shanahan he doesn’t need a dual threat qb, especially with checkdowns like CMC and Samuel. So if Lance can get us a first and whatever, in my mind it would make sense to take it. The fact we’ve invested all those picks in him is immaterial.

      Also, sorry to state the obvious but Kinlaw is a withering asset and in a year or two might have to retire anyway. Doubt they “believe in him” anymore.

      1. George,
        You have me beat at 76. I am 68. I started on the blog in 2009 so I was 55 not really old. There was a group of coaches and teachers who used to hang out, I was the youngest when we would be arguing usually politics instead of it getting out of hand one of us would say ” then again what the hell do I know i’m just an old coach” I used it as my screen name and slowly grew into it. Started going to 9er games in about 1959. My dad and his extended family ( 4 brothers 10 sisters) had season tickets starting in 1946. My Dad was at the first game at Kezar, he and I were at the last game at Kezar, the first game at Candlestick, the last game at the stick and the first game at Levis When did you start going to 9er games?

    2. Of course they still want these 2 guys. They paid big for Trey and he’d be the starter if not for the foot injury. Physically he’s better than Purdy. He just lacks reps and he could turn out to be a better QB than Purdy and he’s on a rookie contract. Of course they keep him. They went into the season with Trey and Purdy and there is no reason they won’t want to do the same this coming year. As for Kinlaw, he was drafted to replace Buchner. When healthy, he is a load in the middle. He has just had this one injury that hadn’t completely healed until possibly now. They had Armstead and Buchner and now they have Armstead and Kinlaw. Of course if that injury keeps flaring up then that will change things.

  12. Jack
    While we all know that CMC was a great addition to the 9ers offense and a top contributor to the 9ers closing out the season by winning 10 game, I have to admit his numbers are shockingly better than I realized.

    Christian McCaffrey becomes most productive midseason addition in NFL history…….
    * With 79 scrimmage yards in Sunday’s 38-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals, McCaffrey now has 1,210 since joining San Francisco in Week 7 — The most by a midseason addition in NFL history! The dual-threat back recorded 670 scrimmage yards in Weeks 1 through 6 with the Panthers.

    * In the 2022 NFL regular-season finale Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, McCaffrey tallied 45 yards rushing on 10 carries in addition to 34 yards receiving and a touchdown on three receptions. Against the Las Vegas Raiders the previous week, he tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Erik Dickerson for the most games with 100 or more scrimmage yards by a midseason addition at six.

    * Coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged last month that McCaffrey has exceeded the 49ers’ expectations, seamlessly fitting into the offensive scheme and helping catapult the team into the NFL playoffs.

    And to think, some 9er fans were complaining the FO gave up too much to trade for him!

    1. Geep,
      It kind of makes pro bowl selections look a little ridiculous. I have to admit I was one of those criticizing how much we gave up. I still think it could be too much if we don’t reach the SB although that may have to do more with how Purdy handles playoff pressures. I also believe that they need to make some moves to recover some picks in the 2023 draft. Draft picks are how teams handle the cap.

  13. any one hear what the weather is supposed to be like Saturday in Santa Clara? Could be the wildcard during wildcard weekend

  14. Idk about Dalton as a BU but agree Jimmy is moving on, and yea I think Carl has a point he did good stuff here, I wish him well. Trading Lance is an option but what if he goes on to develop into a huge success? Purdy can’t scramble like Lance, next season coaches will have a sh*tload of film on him too. Maybe keep Lancel next season?

  15. My 2 cents:
    1) Regarding the quarterback postion: The 49ers are in the cat bird seat. Right now, there are teams in the league that would give anything to have one decent, serviceable QB. When healthy, the 49ers have 3. If one assumes that Purdy has a leg up on being the starter next season, the 49ers should liquidate whichever of the other two that return the most draft capital then take another quality QB prospect later in the draft.

    2) Based on his body of work so far – Should the 49ers get bounced from the playoffs, I doubt that it will solely be because of the play of Brock Purdy…

    1. I think the 49ers are in the cat bird seat if Jimmy G is amenable to an acceptable extension. He’s out injured again, so the question for him is whether he’ll get one of those offers for a starting position. I think really not. But if he’s amenable to an extension, and I think he’s earned the right to be approached for it, then you don’t need Purdy as a second backup. Purdy competes with one other QB to start. If Jimmy G comes back, then it is Trey who becomes expendable and he has value for a second or third round pick. There are just too many assumptions that Trey is going to work out. I think he’s really already a slow starter, pardon the pun, with potential to be a big bust. By the way I’m from Chicago (and from where Jimmy G grew up) and would love to see Jimmy G starting with another team. That quick release is so stunning and elegant and would benefit so many offenses. But I think he can be the best NFL backup QB and he’d be comfortable in that role.

  16. Btw, for those of you who don’t live in California, for this Saturday the weather service predicts a 90% chance of rain. Remember our loss to Chicago. Seattle has a very good rb and a scrambling qb. So forget the spread. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  17. George,
    I hope its not a monsoon like Chi. Extreme weather can level the playing field between a potentially great team and an Avg. team. In a heavy rain storm the best team doesn’t always win.

  18. What happens if Purdy has the dreded 2nd year regression?Like so many other qbs before him.

  19. With regards to a 3rd string QB, I think Stetson Bennett would be a good late round pick, if available. I think he could fluorish in KS’ system, but maybe not others.

    1. Cubus,
      Three late round QBs that I like are Hendon Hooker Tenn. he tore his ACL in Nov. that could cause him to slip in the draft. I would draft him and stash him on the injury list giving him a year to learn KS’s system. He could be our #2 by the start of 2024. Next Dorian Thompson-Robinson UCLA a four year starter like Purdy. Lastly Clayton Tune Hous

  20. The key difference seems to be Purdy’s efficiency. He has given the 49ers a more explosive passing game, completing five of 12 deep throws for touchdowns. In the red zone, Purdy has been even more impressive, with a touchdown percentage of 35%.

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