SANTA CLARA — Brock Purdy does not look stressed. He is sitting in a folding chair at his locker, with Thursday’s practice script in one hand and his right foot propped up against the stall.
He smiles while reminiscing about recent trips to the Jacksonville area, from offseason throwing sessions near Ponte Vedra Beach to last summer’s lakeside engagement to his fiancé.
He takes the 49ers’ three-game losing streak quite seriously, mind you. But he also is taking a glass-half-full approach into Sunday’s game against the Jaguars, and he does so with a refreshed mind and body from last week’s bye.
Sure, the 49ers (5-3) as a team definitely needed the break to recharge and recalibrate, including left tackle Trent Williams and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, both of whom practiced Thursday and should return from two-game absences.
For Purdy, last week’s downtime offered something new, seeing how last season’s bye came a month before he relieved Jimmy Garoppolo and became entrenched in the team’s most pressure-packed job.
“To step away from the game, take a breather, understand where we’re at and what we have to do, it was huge for me,” Purdy said, “to clear my mind, and come back excited for the second half and this stretch of football, good football, we have to play.”
Purdy’s arm has felt great in practice this week, after he did not throw a football last week, the first extended break since he began throwing with his surgically repaired elbow in late May.
“With however many games we played in the first half of the season, your arm, you start feeling a little sore at practice and whatnot, but come game time, you’re ready to roll,” Purdy said. “Having a week off for the second stretch (of the season) was huge for me, with my arm.”
In the 49ers’ three straight losses, Purdy has thrown five interceptions after halftime, including two in a failed comeback attempt Oct. 29. After that 31-17 home loss to the Bengals, Purdy “spoke from the heart” and heaped accountability on himself in a postgame locker room address.
“I just wanted the team to know, and hear from my own mouth, face to face, like, I’ve got to be better. I own up to mistakes that I made,” Purdy said. “(At) certain points of the game I have to be smart with the ball.”
His teammates appreciated the message.
“It meant a lot,” running back Christian McCaffrey said. “He doesn’t have to explain himself to any of us. We know what kind of worker he is. We know his mentality and his mindset.”
“One thing about Brock, he always takes accountability for his mistakes, and he wants to be the best version of himself as possible,” Samuel said. “That’s one thing we like about Brock here.”
Purdy likes the prospect of getting back Samuel and Williams, not only for their talents but for the energy they bring to an offense. The 49ers have scored 17 points in losing each of their past three games — at Cleveland, at Minnesota and to Cincinnati.
Turnovers in those games prompted Purdy to “be real with myself,” so he will toe that fine line between being smart (see: check-down passes) and aggressive (see: anticipatory throws to receivers he trusts) when he plays Sunday for the first time in Jacksonville.
His scouting report on the Jaguars: They’re great at creating turnovers, essentially by showing space in their defense before windows close with deflected or intercepted passes.
It certainly will be a different view than what he had last week, when he drove a tractor and plowed a cornfield at his fiancé’s family farm in Iowa, a trip that also included a stop Saturday to watch his alma mater, Iowa State, lose to Kansas.
“We just need a win. We need to have that feeling again of winning and get on a streak and roll,” Purdy said. “The second half of the season is huge.”
It was last season, when the 49ers were 4-4 at the bye and enjoyed a 12-game win streak before losing in the NFC Championship Game at Philadelphia, where Purdy suffered an elbow injury.
“Whenever our backs are against the wall, we play good football. We’re a talented team,” Purdy added. “Once we’re hungry and set our goals and need it, we can do a lot.”
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