Kyle Shanahan called Brock Purdy “the most poised rookie [he’s] ever had” after the 49ers’ 21-13 victory over the Seahawks on December 15. That was Brock Purdy’s second NFL start. He threw for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns as San Francisco won it’s seventh straight and took control of the NFC West.
Fast forward a month, and Brock Purdy just beat the Seahawks again. This time 41-23, and this time in his first career playoff start. Purdy looked shaky for the first few minutes of the game. But to Shanahan’s statement a month earlier, Purdy remained poised. When the dust settled, Purdy had thrown for 332 yards and three touchdowns and ran in a fourth touchdown.
Purdy and the 49ers are two wins from reaching the Super Bowl and look like a machine right now. Whether or not the 49ers reach the Super Bowl, or better yet, win the Super Bowl, we’ve seen what we needed to see from Brock Purdy.
The Year of Trey?
This was supposed to be the year of Trey Lance in The Bay. It was not supposed to be Brock Purdy leading the 49ers into a divisional round battle with the Cowboys.
After the 49ers shipped a bevy of draft picks to the Miami Dolphins in the 2021 NFL Draft to move up and select Trey Lance, he was QB1 of the future in San Francisco. So much so that even after helping lead the 49ers to an NFC Championship game (and a Super Bowl two years prior), the team pulled the plug on Jimmy Garoppolo to make way for the future.
Two NFC title games, a Super Bowl appearance, and a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension that San Francisco gave Garoppolo in 2018 — didn’t matter. As I said, this was Trey Lance’s time to shine. But life has a cruel way of working out sometimes. Trey’s time as QB 1 lasted just over a game.
Lance suffered a broken ankle in the first quarter of the 49ers’ Week 2 contest against the Seahawks, and San Francisco’s insurance policy kicked in.
It was again Jimmy Garoppolo’s team, at least for this season. John Lynch smartly re-worked Garoppolo’s contract to ensure the veteran quarterback could stick around for one more season. It was a win-win for both parties. Lynch got a veteran backup for his second-year quarterback, and Garoppolo got to rehab and test the free agent market the following offseason.
Under Garoppolo, and with the addition of Christian McCaffrey, the 49ers entered a big early December matchup with the Miami Dolphins at 7-4, winners of four straight.
After taking a sack on the game’s opening drive against the Dolphins, Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a broken foot.
Enter Brock Purdy, the last pick in last year’s draft. Yep, Mr. Irrelevant. Purdy was picked with the 262nd and final pick in the draft, now the 49ers’ season rested on his shoulders.
Purdy answered the call by completing 25/37 (67.6%) passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. The 49ers beat the Dolphins 33-17 to move to 8-4.
Life is funny sometimes. Sometimes things just work out. Brock Purdy’s dad Shawn Purdy called a Bay Area radio station to share the irony of a conversation he had with his son sometime in November. Shawn shared that Brock was a big Dan Marino fan growing up and wore No. 13 because of Marino. While trying to figure out a home game to attend, Brock told his father that the Dolphins were one of the upcoming games.
“So not long ago I say, ‘Hey, how many home games you guys got left?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, I think five,’ ” Shawn said. “And I ask, ‘Who do we play at home?’ and he says, ‘We’ve got the Saints, the Dolphins …’ I was like, ‘Oh dude, you know you’re going in for that game.’
“I go, ‘That’s just the way life works.’ Just joking. ‘If you’re going in, it’ll probably be the Dolphins, ‘ and then sure enough that’s how it unfolded. Dan Marino was at the stadium, and you just pinch yourself.”
The real kicker is, Marino was there to witness his one-time fan don his No. 13 and beat his Dolphins.
Mr. Irrelevant to QB1
Since that fateful twist or irony in early December, Purdy hasn’t looked back. 5-0 as a starter, 6-0 since he took over for Jimmy G. 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 107.3 passer rating. Oh, and he helped the 49ers win the NFC West.
Sprinkle in his performance in their Wild Card game against the Seahawks, and the 49ers have an excellent problem. I’m sure that no one in San Francisco will admit this, but the starting quarterback job belongs to Brock Purdy.
The fact is, Purdy earned it. Starting 2023 with a former third overall pick as the backup quarterback might not be the most popular move, but it’s the right move. And as we’ve seen, John Lynch and his front office usually make the right move.
Even if the 49ers’ playoff run doesn’t end in Phoenix, Purdy has done more than Lance has to be QB1. He’s also going to cost much less than Lance. Being a seventh-round pick has some perks (for the 49ers). Purdy will make $870,000 next season, $985,000 in 2024, and $1.1 million in 2025. And the 49ers can’t negotiate an extension with him until after 2024.
Saving millions upon millions of dollars on the most premium position in the sport is a heck of a reason to move on from the investment made in Trey Lance. Purdy’s performance makes it a no-brainer.