Nick Sirianni has a curious connection with Brock Purdy, the improbable 49ers quarterback who will try to end the Eagles’ season Sunday.
Sirianni played college football at NCAA Division III Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, where one of his teammates was Matt Campbell, Purdy’s coach at Iowa State.
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So that means Sirianni will be calling Campbell this week to get some inside info on the 23-year-old rookie?
“Matt and I may be good friends, and we are good friends, but every game that Brock Purdy plays well in, I think that's good for recruiting at Iowa State,” Sirianni said with a laugh. “So I'm not asking him because I'm not sure I'm going to get great info from him because if the Eagles play well, how does that help Iowa State? It doesn't. But if Purdy plays well, it's going to help him.”
There’s also an Eagles connection to how Purdy even made the 49ers’ 53-man roster this past summer as a late-round rookie.
It was former Eagle Nate Sudfeld that Purdy beat out for a job.
“When he first started out, he got such few reps because of how many reps we were giving to Trey [Lance] and Nate, but every time he got his one or two reps in practice, just how decisive he was and got the ball to the right spot and did it aggressively,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.
“Never seemed unsure of anything and so he kept earning more reps, and the more reps we gave him the more he continued to look the same and didn't take any steps back, and then he carried it over to some of the preseason games.
“So by the end of that, it was pretty easy to see how Brock was coming and we knew we wanted to keep him on the roster and not risk him going to practice squad, so it was a decision we had to make.”
Purdy made the team, Trey Lance got hurt, Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt, and now Purdy is 7-0 as a starter, including playoff wins over the Seahawks and Cowboys.
On Sunday he’ll come to Philly to try and become the first rookie quarterback to reach a Super Bowl.
The 49ers and Eagles meet at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Linc in the NFC Championship Game. The winner faces Sunday's Chiefs-Bengals winner in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 12.
“He's a winner,” Sirianni said of Purdy. “Obviously, I always follow Iowa State and their program because I have so many college teammates and roommates that coach there. Since Matt became the head coach at Iowa State, I've always followed them, and obviously stay in touch with Matt.
“But you saw what he did for that program. Matt is obviously a great head coach, but he got a great quarterback in Brock Purdy, and you saw what he did for that program. And all the things he did for them. I (would) check the score, Purdy had an awesome game, and they won again. That's what I notice with him, that he's a winner.”
Purdy went 30-17 in four years at Iowa State, broke 32 school records and finished with 81 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
With the 49ers, he fashioned a 119.0 passer rating in the regular season, highest ever by a rookie in his first five starts, and he’s at 109.9 in the postseason.
Sirianni followed Iowa State closely this past fall because of his friendship with Campbell and had many conversations with him about his QB.
“Obviously, when you're close with other coaches like that, you have conversations back and forth … like, ‘Hey, what are you guys doing on the tape right here? This looked good,’ this and that.
“The common theme always from them is, ‘Hey, we've got a quarterback that can lead the way and find the right place to go with the football consistently, who's just a playmaker.’”
The last rookie to come into the Linc and beat the Eagles was Jameis Winston in 2015. Since 1990, the Eagles are 16-5-1 at home against rookies.
The Eagles have never faced a rookie quarterback in the postseason. The youngest quarterback to beat them in a playoff game in Philadelphia was 24-year-old Scott Brunner of the Giants in 1981. He completed nine passes.
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