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How Purdy’s dad eerily predicted QB’s 49ers debut vs. Dolphins

  • Editor’s Note: “Mr. Relevant: Brock Purdy’s NFL Story,” a 49ers Talk original series, details the QB’s incredible journey from the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft to Bay Area superstar through his eyes and those closest to him, his mom and dad.

Brock Purdy’s father had a feeling last season that the 49ers’ Week 13 meeting with the Miami Dolphins would be special for his son.

Turns out Shawn Purdy was right.

Weeks before the game, Shawn asked Brock how many home games remained on the 49ers’ schedule so the family could decide one to attend. Brock went down the list, but when he mentioned the Dolphins, something triggered within his father.

“ ‘Aw, man, you know how life works out,’ ” Shawn recalls telling Brock. “ ‘That is going to be the game you go in.’

“We giggled about it. I was joking.”

That’s because Miami isn’t just any team in the Purdy household. It’s the team Shawn, a native Floridian who grew up a diehard Dolphins fan, clearly remembers watching on TV while waiting for Brock to be born on Dec. 27, 1999, at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Ariz. Brock and Shawn watched film of  Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino together, and the young quarterback tried to emulate the Dolphins legend, even now wearing his jersey No. 13 in tribute.

Despite that connection, the Purdy family instead opted to attend the following week’s game, when the 49ers would host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So, when the contest against the Dolphins kicked off, Shawn was at work, with the game playing on a communal TV screen.

Shawn Purdy noticed his son wearing his helmet, but he didn’t really think twice until he saw 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on a cart, headed for the locker room with a foot injury in the first quarter.

“I saw Jimmy drive by and I go, ‘Man,’ ” Shawn told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I said, ‘Dude, I think Brock is going in, and my hands got sweaty.’ I’ve got goosebumps on my legs right now.”

Meanwhile, at Levi’s Stadium, Brock was told to warm up. He’d seen Garoppolo hobble off the field, but no one knew at that time how serious the injury really was. Maybe it was just for a series or two.

“When I went out there, I was trying to do everything I had studied that week, what [49ers coach Kyle] Shanahan was calling,” Purdy said. “At the same time, I was like, I’ve been practicing against a really good defense. I’ve been doing well at practice. All I got to do is go out there and go through my progressions and make a throw.

“Just play football. I’ve been doing this my whole life.”

George Kittle remembers Purdy’s first huddle well. While the tight end had very few reps with the young quarterback during practice, he’d seen what he was capable of against the 49ers’ defensive starters. 

“I knew he was good because the way he was practicing with our defense,” Kittle told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’d have these highlight throws against our awesome defense. Worst-case scenario, he’s not going to be bad.

“He stepped in the huddle with confidence. He was assertive. No quake in his words or the way that he talked. He wasn’t shook. He wasn’t flustered. The very first third down, he comes in and, oh my gosh, it’s cover-zero. Steps up, delivers a nice strike.”

That first completion to Christian McCaffrey eventually set up a touchdown strike to Kyle Juszczyk. After the point-after attempt, which gave the 49ers a 10-7 lead, Purdy returned to the bench, where he asked about Garoppolo’s status. He figured the veteran probably would be ready to go out for the next series.

That wasn’t the case. Purdy was informed Garoppolo would be out for the remainder of the season with a broken foot.

“In that moment, I’m like, ‘Wow,’ ” Purdy said. “All right, well, I’m not going to get caught up on next week. I have to be, ‘Let’s win this game.’ ”

That the 49ers did, as Purdy completed 25 of 37 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in a 33-17 victory.

“Next thing you know, we’re up by three scores,” Kittle said. “When you have a quarterback that comes in the huddle and he’s confident, it raises the ability of everyone around him. That’s one of Brock’s best things.”

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