Among the big chatter during the week of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine: Finding the next potential Brock Purdy.
It was one year ago when Purdy took part in throwing drills at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis — which was the first official timeframe he got on the San Francisco 49ers draft board. He eventually avoided being an undrafted free agent…and witnessed the NFC title game right away.
Jake Haener of Fresno State has now been the recipient of Purdy comparisons off having a near similar build (Haener was measured around 6-feet) and playing with an identical moxie the 49ers’ rookie showed. Even former college football quarterback turned CFB/NFL analyst Kirk Herbstreit anointed Haener the Purdy of the 2023 class.
But does Haener mind the comparison to “Mr. Irrelevant?” He broke his silence in a rare column he wrote to Vic Tafur of The Athletic released on Tuesday evening, March 7.
“I do get tired of the Brock Purdy comparisons,” Haener admitted. “Everyone is so unique to who they are and you can make as many comparisons to any short quarterback that you can find, but we’re all different and bring different things to the table, so it all depends on what they feel mentally and what system they get put into.”
Haener Boosted Stock in Indy, Shared if he Spoke With 49ers
Haener never took part in the running drills in Indy. But preferred to show the arm strength that’s helping turn him into a fast riser for the 2023 draft class.
The Bulldogs standout threw with eye-catching velocity on sideline throws while also proving he can air it out past 45 yards on go route drills. But Haener impressed in another area: The interview process when detailing his toughness to reporters.
“No matter who I’m playing, who’s in front of me, I’m going to be right there…ready to make a throw when I have to for my team. And at the end of the day, people can get caught up in size, measurables and all those great things that all these studs have. But can you win games? And that’s what quarterbacks do and that’s what I do,” Haener said (h/t Cory Kinnan of Browns Wire on USA Today). “I’m a winner and I’ve always been a winner.”
When Haener started for Fresno State, he ended up with a career record of 23-9 — but he ended his collegiate career by winning his last seven games including earning the Most Valuable Player award at the L.A. Bowl. He delivered 9,120 yards, 68 touchdowns and just 18 interceptions. But is he on the 49ers’ draft board?
“I have not actually at all,” Haener said via Steph Sanchez of SB Nation. But he adds he has spoken to some NFL scouts here and there while at the Senior Bowl, where Haener earned another MVP honor.
Haener Reveals QB He’s Always Wanted to be Like
So Haener isn’t sold on the Purdy comparisons. However, he did share to Tafur the one QB he’s always admired.
“I always wanted to be like Drew Brees. He was my role model growing up, the way he handled himself and the type of leader he was and the way he played with timing, anticipation and accuracy,” Purdy said. “I hoped and dreamed I could play like him. We’re very similar in stature, wear the same number, and I feel like we have similar traits.”
Time will tell if the 49ers will send a scout or coach to Fresno State’s Pro Day set for March 30. However, Haener revealed to Tafur that the Las Vegas Raiders have had a few meetings with him and that Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi is heading to the Bulldogs’ Pro Day.