They started the season with Trey Lance as QB1 and then moved onto, or back to, Jimmy Garoppolo. After Lance’s season came to an end in week 2 due to a broken ankle, Garoppolo would take over the reins for the next eleven weeks before injuring his foot against the Miami Dolphins.
With their starting quarterback and backup on the sidelines, the San Francisco 49ers would turn the ball over to a man once labeled “Mr. Irrelevant”.
Selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the final pick in the 2022 draft, former Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy would become the team’s starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.
Before we launch into how Purdy has faired since taking over the role of QB1, we must first talk about his road to the National Football League, a path that would ironically be very similar.
As a three-star recruit, Purdy joined the Cyclones as the team’s third-string quarterback behind Kyle Kempt and Zeb Noland. An injury to Kempt and Noland’s inability to step up would open the door of opportunity for Purdy to start eight games and prove his worth to coach Matt Campbell.
Purdy would remain the starting pivot for the Cyclones over his final three years with the team setting several records with the program, including the most touchdowns in team history (35).
After being a celebrated 4 year starter at Iowa State, THIS was Brock Purdy’s final bizarre and heartbreaking play…for me, it makes this run he’s on with the Niners even more special! #49ers #iowastate #cyclones pic.twitter.com/iu4BG5rqR7
— BALLCAP Sports (@JimRileyLive) January 15, 2023
Joining The NFL
When Jimmy G went down with an ankle injury during the 49ers’ week 11 game against the Dolphins, coach Kyle Shanahan turned to his third-string rookie quarterback. Seemingly unphased by the moment, Purdy completed the 49ers’ 33-17 victory, throwing 25-37 for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
This would be the first time in NFL history that a “Mr. Irrelevant” would successfully complete a touchdown pass during a regular season game.
Purdy would quickly shed his negative nickname as he compiled victory after victory, finishing the regular season with a 5-0 record in games he started, completing 114-170 passes for 1,374 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Including the game against the Dolphins, Purdy would lead the 49ers to victories over Tampa Bay, Seattle, Washington, Las Vegas, and Arizona.
Brock Purdy is officially the first Mr. Irrelevant to ever throw a touchdown pass in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/bxEyRGPjO9
— The Volume (@TheVolumeSports) December 4, 2022
Incredible Under Pressure
Where once thought to be on the verge of a lost season without an experienced ball slinger, the 49ers now find themselves ready to take on the Dallas Cowboys for the right to move onto the NFC Championship game.
Whereas most rookies may have a couple of impressive moments, but ultimately crumble under the pressure of the spotlight, Purdy appears to be more confident and poised.
When Purdy took to the field at Levi’s Stadium last week against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game, he would lead the 49ers to an early 10-0 lead before entering the half trailing by just a single point.
Finishing the game 18-30 with 332 yards, three touchdowns, no fumbles, and no turnovers, Purdy guided the 49ers to a dominating 25-6 second-half comeback, sealing a 41-23 victory. With the opportunity to target players like Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk, and Brandon Ayiuk, Purdy has one of the most dangerous offenses in the league.
While Lance and Garoppolo were capable of running coach Shanahan’s offense at a basic level, Purdy has thrown a little extra flavor and pizazz to the excitement of his teammates and fans. Had Purdy played enough games, his 65.3 QBR would have placed him fifth among the league’s best quarterbacks.
Drawing comparisons to former Minnesota Vikings star Fran Tarkenton (by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll), current Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (NFL Total Access analysts Thomas Davis and Michael Robinson), and even arguably the quarterback G.O.A.T Tom Brady (by New England Patriots radio analyst Scott Zolak), Purdy finds his name in company spanning multiple generations.
In just a short time, Purdy has now joined the conversation surrounding the best young quarterbacks in the league, including Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, Justin Herbert, and Trevor Lawrence.
Brock Purdy’s first playoff start:
🏈 18/30 Comp/Att
🏈 332 Pass Yards
🏈 4 Total TDs
MR. IRRELEVANT NO MORE 😤 pic.twitter.com/gA4hpYDZDf
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 15, 2023
Quarterback Conundrum For The 49ers
Regardless of what happens against the Cowboys, the 49ers are now in a bit of a quarterback conundrum.
Does Purdy, who has proven his worth enter next season as the primary quarterback with Lance on the sideline? Or would the team be better off trading Lance and keeping Jimmy G as a veteran backup who can still help mentor their potential young star?
From a player that nobody really wanted to a player who can practically decide the fate of the 49ers’ playoff run, Purdy is clearly one of the most relevant players in the NFL’s run to the Super Bowl.
#49ers Jimmie Ward had a good laugh when Brock Purdy hit the high-step 😅
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) January 18, 2023