Is Purdy to Lance what Cousins was to Griffin III?

Since San Francisco used the final pick of the 2022 draft on Purdy, some among the fan base have been vocal about the former Iowa State product supplanting Lance as the 49ers starting quarterback.

Is there any validity to this belief?

Shanahan was in his third season working underneath his father Mike as the offensive coordinator in Washington when the team used three first-round picks and a second-round pick to trade up for the second pick in the 2012 draft. Washington used the selection on Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

To the surprise of many, Washington decided to draft another quarterback with its third pick in the 2012 draft, Kirk Cousins from Michigan State.

The transition to Griffin forced Shanahan and the rest of Washington’s offensive coaching staff to revamp their approach to the game.

Griffin was different from any quarterbacks they’d coached in the NFL. Washington took a crash course in learning how to implement the zone read into its running game to take advantage of the quarterback’s running ability.

At the time, there were few teams across the NFL running this style of offense, San Francisco was doing it with Colin Kaepernick, and Washington could take advantage of unprepared defenses.

Griffin took the NFL by storm, earning NFL Rookie of the Year honors while leading Washington to a 9-6 record and playoff berth. The future was bright for Griffin in Washington, and then came the playoffs.

Facing Seattle in the NFC Wild Card round, Griffin would slip while dropping back to pass and tear the ACL and LCL in his right knee.

Griffin had initially injured the knee against Baltimore in week 14 when he was hit by Haloti Ngata while scrambling.

After the injury, Griffin could never regain the form he’d shown his rookie season, and Kyle Shanahan left Washington for Cleveland.

Cousins started four games in Washington over his first two seasons, winning only once.

Flash forward to 2021. Now the head coach in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan, used three first-round picks and a third-round pick to trade up for the third pick in the draft, and the 49ers used the selection to grab North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.

Shanahan chose a different plan with Lance than he did with Griffin. Lance made only two starts as a rookie, losing a close game against Arizona in week five and leading San Francisco to a critical win in week 17 to keep the 49ers playoff hopes alive.

All signs now point to Lance, who turned 22 on Monday, becoming the 49ers starting quarterback this season.

Does Purdy have a chance to supplant the 2021 first-round pick?

There’s no way this happens.

Shanahan is known to have liked Cousins in the 2012 draft, and he was a much better quarterback coming out of college than Purdy.

Kyle Shanahan has been open about passing up Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft because the plan was to go after Cousins in free agency.

At the time, Cousins was coming off a season that saw him throw for over 4900 yards and earn Pro Bowl honors.

Ultimately, Shanahan could not turn down an option to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. Acquiring Garoppolo was a sure thing, whereas being able to acquire Cousins was an unknown. Cousins eventually chose to sign with the Minnesota Vikings.

While Cousins always showed the ability to make all the throws, that’s not the case with Purdy.

Purdy is much closer to Nick Mullens than he ever will be to Kirk Cousins.

If Kyle Shanahan and new quarterback coach Brian Griese can develop Purdy into a backup quarterback, it should be considered a win for the organization.

This team belongs to Trey Lance.

This article has 19 Comments

  1. I think he is an option Jack…not just for backup..

    Which brings a lil more validity that Kyle really did want Mac Jones…and wasnt so high on Trey..

    I saw the pick…im like a Qb???…
    So u pay Nate Sudfield $2million….

    Won’t let Jimmy G go!

    Did everything u possibly could not to play Trey last year..and when u did…
    Set him up for failure..

    I immediately flashed back to Kirk and RGIII a decade ago..

    Idk Jack but…2+2= 4

    Shanahan doesnt want Trey…

    Its becoming more clearer..

    Someone vetoed his choice of Mac..

    1. Im a Shanahan fan…but him and his Dad’s path to success…included Established Qbs…Steve Young,John Elway,Jake Plummer,Matt Ryan,…

      They want fast food…
      Dont wanna have to worry about cooking…and preparing the meal

      Just bring the recipe and ingredients…yknow?

    2. I think you are way off base. Nobody in the organization is going to override Shanahan’s pick for QB. The last pick in the draft isn’t someone who you are counting on making the team let alone backup to the most important position on the team.

  2. Well, wasn’t it Walsh who always advocated that a new/fresh QB be brought into camp every year (not just a camp arm). Or was it Al Davis… Can’t recall at the moment. As we know, all kinds of things could play out–injuries, unanticipated trades, over-the-top performances, incarceration, etc., etc.

  3. Spot on Jack. The idea Mr Irrelevant was drafted with any idea of competing with Lance is laughable.

    The team still intends to trade JG and will need a 3rd QB. Purdy will be competing for a spot on the PS.

    Why some fans still want to believe Shanahan wasn’t given the QB he wanted is beyond me. Especially after the comments from Scangarello – it should now be obvious now that Mac Jones was the choice of a few of the coaches, but Lance was Shanahan’s choice, and he was not subtle as to his disdain for Shanahan’s process in deciding on Lance. A good reason he is a former 49ers employee.

  4. Sadly, the Niners overpaid a temporary backup with proved few NFL skills. They could have had Purdy for far less and perhaps have had a young man with talent to develop. We all hope Trey comes through but the horror we dare not face is that we overpaid for a mediocre, minor league talent.

    1. I wonder why no one else thought highly enough of Purdy to draft him? 31 teams had approximately 7 chances each and not one of them pulled the trigger. How curious.

      1. Curious, but typical. This question has persisted over the many decades of the modern NFL draft–why were players not taken until very, very, very late…

      2. Pro Comparison: C.J. Beathard

        Small-statured, super-experienced QB with surprised athletic twitch. Will elude some defenders with his change-of-direction ability but isn’t an improvisational master and is relatively slow for the position today. Shows good pocket movement skills but occasionally retreats/spins out of the way of pressure, thereby severely limiting the chances he completes a pass. Anticipatory throwing skill masks some of his arm-strength deficiencies. Needs to be in a particular, low-risk offense to be maximized at the next level.

        Weaker arm. Doesn’t throw with the pinpoint type accuracy a lesser-arm QB needs to be able to survive in the NFL. Doesn’t read the field as well as expected given how many games he’s started. Very conservative passer who barely takes risks, and it can be ugly when he attempts to stretch the field. Footwork is not sound, especially when moved off his base.

    2. Purdy was more expensive if he was undrafted

      I am rooting for Purdy – cuz I was him to always stay irrelevant

  5. Jack: “Kyle Shanahan has been open about passing up Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft because the plan was to go after Cousins in free agency.”
    PROBABLY THE BIGGEST MISTAKE KS HAS MADE! If he had drafted either Patrick Mahomes, or Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft, KS and the 9ers would have likely won a couple more SB. Think about it…..What could have been!

  6. I was actually shocked the 49ers drafted Purdy. In college, Purdy was wildly inconsistent. Poor athleticism and weak arm do not an NFL QB make. Forget Nick Mullens. Brock Purdy is a poor man’s C.J. Beathard.

    1. Purdy wasn’t that bad. Of course, he wasn’t a consensus All American either. Who would you rather have at camp, Josh Rosen or Purdy?

      1. I would have rather signed Rosen as a FA camp arm and use that draft pick on a developmental O-lineman or a college LBer who had a chance to contribute on special teams.

        1. Of course, much will change/evolve over the next few months. One could argue that developmental LBs and offensive linemen were picked up as undrafted free agents. Purdy was the very last pick–not like he was selected in the 5th round. For me (and only me) there is so much in the wind regarding the quality/effectiveness of new additions that it’s a bit early to rail about it. Again, only speaking for me.

  7. Yeah, I know–highlights are always slanted (aren’t most of them?). While not Steve Young in his prime, neither is Purdy rancid chopped liver…

    Get him into camp and put him to work. We can call for Lynch’s head–and Shanahan’s too–as the preseason draws to a close. Get those banners ready to fly over Levi’s, yes?

  8. some among the fan base have been vocal about the former Iowa State product supplanting Lance as the 49ers starting quarterback.

    Seriously? Does the silly season ever end? Hopefully this was just one or two fans among the base and not an indication of some sort of mass base meltdown.

  9. There are way too many people who never manage to learn how far the tip of their nose is from their upper lip.

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