Home Sports Purdy, notable 49ers QBs offer Notre Dame’s Leonard sage advice

Purdy, notable 49ers QBs offer Notre Dame’s Leonard sage advice

0 comment
Purdy, notable 49ers QBs offer Notre Dame's Leonard sage advice

Purdy, notable 49ers quarterbacks offer sage advice to Notre Dame’s Leonard originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

For a rising college quarterback with professional aspirations, there’s no better panel to attend than one featuring four past and present NFL quarterbacks with resumes decorated with copious Super Bowl experiences, stories of perseverance and high praise. .

That was the reality for Notre Dame quarterback Riley Leonard on Thursday night, as he was lucky enough to snag a seat (or a chance to pick brains) at the annual meeting. Dwight Clark Legacy Series Event at the California Theater in San José. There, the 49ers’ notorious signal-callers Brock Purdy, Steve Young, Jeff Garcia and Alex Smith dispensed wisdom.

Leonard, 21, enters his first and presumably final season with the Fighting Irish after transferring from Duke after three seasons. There, he recorded 382 completions, 4,450 passing yards, 24 touchdown passes and healthy aspirations for the 2025 NFL Draft.

Every icon of San Francisco He had different offers for Leonard, eager to learn, collectively being great teachers. In order, here’s how Smith, Garcia, Young and Purdy empowered his fellow quarterback.

Alex Smith

Smith, a retired 16-year NFL veteran, spent eight seasons with San Francisco after being selected No. 1 overall in the 2005 draft.

He offered Leonard some great advice on how to enjoy the ups and downs of being an athlete.

“I think you have confidence in yourself, right? You’re good enough,” Smith said, backed by loud applause. “I think the best you can do is enough. I also think, and there are going to be a lot of clichés coming up at this point, but enjoy the process, right? I think we are so stuck in a destination and certainly it is important to set goals, but only your habits make the biggest difference… And again, all of us, whether you are the first or the last choice, the path is not easy”.

Smith knows all about overcoming adversity and adopting various paths and processes.

In his third season with the 49ers, Smith broke his throwing shoulder and missed the end of that season and what would have been his fourth. Then, after suffering a concussion in the second half of his eighth season with San Francisco, Smith lost his job to a promising Colin Kaepernick, ending his tenure with the 49ers.

Smith had more success in terms of records during four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he never got the ring he wanted. Instead, he ended up with Washington in 2018 and experienced one of the most gruesome injuries in sports history through a life-threatening compound fracture to his right tibia and fibula.

However, Smith returned to the field, capping one of the greatest comeback stories in NFL history, before hanging up his jersey for good during the 2021 offseason.

“There will be struggles,” Smith reiterated. “Embrace the struggle. You were meant to go through that and it would be better to have gone through it, right? I think so. Often adversity hits and I’ve been there: it’s too heavy, you don’t want it, it’s uncomfortable. But you know, you get to the other side and that’s where the growth happens. “That’s where improvement happens.”

Not many athletes have experienced a career-changing injury like Smith’s, nor have they returned to their sport at the highest level like he has.

Jeff Garcia

Garcia was a 49ers rookie at age 29; That’s all one needs to know about his drive and dedication to football.

The San Jose State product was overlooked as a draft prospect and played five seasons in the CFL, the first behind Doug Flutie, before backing up San Francisco legend Steve Young in the NFL.

Like Smith, Garcia advised Leonard to “embrace” not only the journey but also what he’s doing right now.

“First of all, seize the moment,” Garcia said. “You still have one more year of college football left. You have the opportunity to be the best you can be for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish… It’s a beautiful and special opportunity that you have in front of you.

“I mean, my kids, when they were 12, ‘So, Dad, what professional soccer team do you think I’m going to play on?’ And I said, ‘None. You don’t even play Pop Warner yet, be good here first, be good now.’ Be the best you can be right now. Everything else will take care of itself if you maximize your opportunities.

“There are only a few opportunities in life. Hell, I was a 29 year old rookie, not a 21 year old rookie. I mean, I had hair everywhere…not anymore. But that being said, you have opportunities in life, as we all know, they are precious and few.”

García finished his career as a four-time NFL Pro Bowl selection. However, at first he was an anonymous backup.

He made sure to highlight preparation when speaking with Leonard, describing meticulous preparation that can take years or seconds to demonstrate.

“Are you ready to take advantage of the opportunity? Have you done the necessary mental, physical (and) all-around work to be prepared when that moment comes to take advantage of it?” Garcia asked. “Do that right now. Think about that right now. Then you can ask those questions about, ‘Hey, what’s it like being a rookie quarterback?’

“Hey, there are very few who get to be in that position and you still have one more year to prove that you are worthy of it.”

Garcia played from the age of 29 for 33 seasons with the 49ers after signing a free agent contract with the team. He, like Smith, never won the grand prize, but left a fan favorite in San Francisco.

young steve

Young needs no introduction.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer and retired 15-year NFL veteran, who virtually holds every 49ers quarterback record and many at that position across the league, was direct in his advice to Leonard: consult Purdy.

“Brock, I want to ask you, because… you have a superpower (in) processing and the idea that when you were a young player, you took the field (against the) Miami Dolphins and you just started processing,” Young asked Purdy. “How would you tell him to prepare to do that?

Processing the game is everything for a quarterback and it’s something Purdy had to do quickly after moving from third to first on 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s depth chart as a rookie.

Young, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time Super Bowl champion and three-time AP All-Pro, read a lot on the field in his time. But he suggests Purdy can help Leonard more than most, since the San Francisco quarterback is only three years older and he was the four-year college player the Notre Dame quarterback pretends to be.

“To me, that’s the question,” Young added. “If you could take that quality in you (Purdy) and spread it to all the quarterbacks, we would be very blessed. And how would you describe how you were ready to process from the beginning?

Brock Purdy

Leonard and the audience were certainly blessed.

Purdy has done a lot for the 49ers in such a short time. However, he, like García, suggested to Leonard a relatively slower approach, where the perspective should be focused on the present.

“Yeah, I mean, it kind of gets to Jeff’s point just in terms of being where you are right now, playing right now (and) not trying to get to the conclusion of getting to the NFL that quickly,” Purdy described. “There is a process in life, and I feel like a lot of people today want to just skip the process. They want to go places because they see guys where they are and they don’t want to, you know, go through the good and the bad and all that kind of stuff.”

Purdy was an MVP finalist for his stellar 2023 NFL season. It implies that most players want to reach maximum status, or at least close to it, without spending the time necessary to get there.

Instead, the wise 24-year-old advises Leonard to stick with what has worked for him and take advantage of his upcoming four-year college career.

After all, it was in college that Purdy believes he was prepared for what the NFL had in store.

“But what I would say is I played four years at Iowa State, so all those reps of defenses and schemes, like all that stuff, added up,” Purdy concluded nonchalantly. “Just the preparation for the game, everything, man. Seeing different safety structures, blitzes, whatever, all those things added up when I came in against Miami, man, it was like, I feel like I’m back at Iowa State playing 11-on-11.

“So yeah. Hopefully that helps.”

The decorated 49ers quarterbacks did not disappoint in providing top-notch information and advice to Leonard.

The theme of embracing one’s journey reigned supreme in the quartet’s responses, but the real takeaway was everyone’s willingness to pass on their knowledge.

Leonard certainly has a lot to consider heading into his final year at Notre Dame.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk podcast

You may also like