There was a time, back in 2013 as he was leaving the Green Bay Packers, that Charles Woodson nearly became a 49er. Woodson was 36 at the time and had moved from stifling cornerback to veteran safety, but he met with the team before eventually signing to return to the Raiders to finish out his Hall of Fame career.
Since then, he’s kept an eye on the 49ers, and when asked on the “What the Football?” podcast this week about what surprised him most in Week 1, Woodson turned his attention to the team he didn’t sign with 10 years ago—specifically, their quarterback and his “poise.”
Despite coming off surgery for an elbow injury he suffered against Philadelphia in last year’s playoffs, Purdy ran his regular-season record to 6-0 with the Niners’ impressive 30-7 drubbing of the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the season opener.
“I think the 49ers and Brock Purdy, what they did going on the road—they basically dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Woodson said. “We already know that defense is as good as any defense out there. And they just smothered the Pittsburgh Steelers. But I think the story really is Brock Purdy. The guy hasn’t lost a game, he had the surgery coming off last year, the elbow surgery. But he came back in that first game and it just felt like he really didn’t miss a beat.”
‘Poised as Any Young QB’
Purdy totaled 220 yards on 19-for-29 passing, throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions in a decidedly clean game against the Steelers. He had a quarterback rating of 111.3, third in the NFL in Week 1.
The showing by Purdy reinforced concerns many had about him coming into the season, after what was a magical 2022 run when injuries forced him to take over with both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance out. Now, Garoppolo is gone to the Raiders, and Lance was traded to Dallas. Purdy showed that last season’s performance was not a fluke.
“He’s as poised as any young quarterback you’re gonna find in the league, and as poised as any older quarterback you’re gonna find in the league,” Woodson said. “He just did an excellent job of putting the ball where it needed to be, getting it to his open receivers—McCaffrey played lights-out as well. This team is definitely stacked.”
Purdy Still Just 23 Years Old
Purdy’s poise can be deceptive—it’s easy to forget just how young (23) and inexperienced he is. The 49ers will face a divisional foe, the Rams, this week and it will be the first time Purdy has gone against them in his career. L.A. allowed just 95 net passing yards to Seattle last week, putting on a second-half show of force on the defensive side for a 24-13 win.
Purdy has game-planned for the Rams in the past. But never taken the field against them.
“This is my third time doing it,” Purdy said after practice this week. “So it feels like I have played against them, but I haven’t. So, I’m excited to.”
As always, Purdy said his goal is to avoid overcomplicating the attack.
“Obviously, you got (defensive lineman) Aaron Donald, you got the scheme that they’ve been doing for a while on defense,” Purdy said. “So, we’re taking things we’ve done in the past and whatnot, and building off those kinds of things. And really, for me, it’s just going to be about going out there and seeing the defense, making sure we’re in the right play, formation, all that kind of stuff. And keep it simple and play ball — play our ball.”
Sean Deveney is a veteran sports reporter covering the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com. He has written for Heavy since 2019 and has more than two decades of experience covering the NBA, including 17 years as the lead NBA reporter for the Sporting News. Deveney is the author of 7 nonfiction books, including “Fun City,” “Before Wrigley became Wrigley,” and “Facing Michael Jordan.” More about Sean Deveney