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No, Brock Purdy and Jimmy Garoppolo weren't the same guy

In the 49ers news desert between minicamp and training camp, weird things pop up. This is one of those things.


While I was recovering from an emergency appendectomy, this video appeared on YouTube and posed an interesting question: Are Brock Purdy and Jimmy Garoppolo the same quarterback?


TLDR version: They aren't, but you have to look beyond the box score to see that.


First, I'll lay out some of the case made in the video by Alex Rollins. Or rather, I'll let Alex himself lay it out.

Yes, on the surface, the numbers appear similar. As Vish Kumaran explained in today's Under Review podcast, however, there's a reason for that.

"The number one thing is that they operated the same offense that was intending to do the same exact things with them at quarterback. I think it's less about them being the same exact guy. I'm not saying their skillsets are necessarily dissimilar, but I do think there are subtle differences that make each player unique. I think it's that the offense is the same. The point is that there's a lot of different quarterbacks that can look like this guy in this offense. That's the greater point rather than Brock Purdy is a clone of Jimmy Garoppolo."

Because Brock and Jimmy have similar skills when it comes to throwing the ball, the offense on paper doesn't look drastically different regardless of who is under center. But as the saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat. (Weirdest saying ever, BTW. What the heck were people doing to cats back in the day?)


Just because two people completed a pass that went for an eight yard gain doesn't mean they did it the exact same way. The difference is in the details. The most common complaints about Jimmy Garoppolo (when he isn't injured) are his lack of mobility, and his inability to connect on deep passes - either due to inaccuracy or reluctance to throw to that part of the field. Even without scrambling and gaining yards on the ground, Brock consistently showed the ability to extend plays and make something from nothing when things around him weren't perfect.


What that graphic (and the YouTube video itself) doesn't show is all the plays left on the field. Very simply, Brock usually hit the open guy, and Jimmy Garoppolo sometimes hit the open guy. Case in point, last season. The offense under Jimmy G. had 1.06 passing plays of 30+ yards per game. In Brock Purdy's five starts in the regular season, the offense had 1.8 pass plays of 30+ yards per game. Despite being a rookie QB who got almost no reps with the first team starters before being thrust into a starting role, Purdy still averaged about one more pass play of 30+ yards per game than his predecessor. Did Kyle Shanahan suddenly remember how to coach once Brock got under center? Of course not. The difference was that Brock took advantage of what was drawn up more than Jimmy Garoppolo.


Regardless of who plays quarterback, there are some things about Kyle Shanahan's system that will always look familiar. There will always be quick passes in traffic over the middle. There will always be a helluva lot of play-action passes. But just because two quarterbacks put up similar statistics doesn't mean they play the same way.


You can watch the entire show from Monday below. Topics discussed include (in order):

  • Why Rob has been out lately (:56)

  • Are Jimmy and Brock the same guy? (3:24)

  • Will Brock Purdy revert to his self-destructive ways in college? (16:37)

  • 49ers fans needs to talk about the quarterbacks separately (20:22)

  • The 49ers offense led the NFL in 30+ yard plays (22:39)

  • The comeback to the "Brock peaked" argument (32:55)

  • Do the missing first round picks for Trey Lance still haunt the 49ers? (36:55)

  • Vish's theory that no 49ers QB is in a good spot (42:34)

  • The NFLPA predicts Brock is going to blow up (54:45)




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