The NFC crown was not destined for the 49ers this season, and it will be Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia Eagles squaring off with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for the title of “Super Bowl Champion.” Many NFL teams have had 2022 seasons for the storybooks, but possibly no story this year has been greater than that of Brock Purdy, “Mr. Irrelevant”, and his emergence.
From the 262nd pick in the draft to a third-string quarterbacking role, the odds of Purdy making a splash in the NFL seemed all but impossible at the start of the season. But just months later, the 23-year-old found himself captaining one of the league’s most storied franchises on a playoff run, making it all the way to the Conference Championship game.
Let’s take a closer look at Purdy’s emergence from “Mr. Irrelevant” to QB1.
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Where did Brock Purdy go to school?
Before Purdy was a Niner, he was first an Iowa State Cyclone.
In fact, Purdy rose to stardom in Ames much like he is now doing in San Francisco. Purdy entered the picture at Iowa State as the third-string quarterback, in line for field time behind quarterbacks Kyle Kempt and Zeb Nolan.
The season-opener, however, would shake things up. Kempt suffered an MCL injury against Iowa, bumping up Nolan to the role of signal-caller. Nolan, however, would see a rough three-game stretch, forcing ISU coach Matt Campbell to give the freshman Purdy an opportunity.
Purdy would take this opportunity and run with it. He first entered the scene mid-game against Oklahoma State, leading the Cyclones to a thrilling victory over the Cowboys as they edged them out, 48-42. Purdy was now the man for Iowa State.
In his four-year career, Purdy was simply a winner. He finished his time in Ames as Iowa State’s career leader in passing yards (12,170), total offense (13,347), touchdown passes (81), completions (993), passing efficiency (151.1) and completion percentage (67.7). The wide-eyed freshman with an opportunity developed into the winningest quarterback in Cyclones history (30-17).
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Interestingly enough, the NFC Championship was not the first time that Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy went head-to-head. The Cyclones faced off with the Oklahoma State Sooners in November of 2019.
While the senior Hurts and his offense diced up Iowa State’s defense early, Purdy would charge his team to a comeback from the 35-14 halftime deficit. Purdy led an epic resurgence coming out of the locker room, outscoring the Sooners 27-7. A savvy drive from the sophomore late in the fourth resulted in a 33-yard touchdown to Sean Shaw Jr., cutting the deficit to 42-35 with three minutes remaining.
On the ensuing drive, Hurts would make a disastrous mistake, throwing a pass into traffic that was picked off by Lawrence White. With the ball at the Oklahoma 35, Purdy could not be stopped, pulling off a few impressive plays before connecting with Charlie Kolar in the end zone.
The scoreboard now read 42-41, and the Cyclones wanted to end the game right then and there. Purdy dropped back for the two-point conversion, throwing a dart to La’Michael Pettway. The pass hit Pettway’s hands, but was then knocked away by Oklahoma defenders. While the epic comeback could not be completed, it was a game to be remembered.
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When was Brock Purdy drafted?
Brock Purdy found a home in San Francisco on Saturday, April 30 when he was selected by the 49ers as the 262nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. As Melanie Salata held up the “Mr. Irrelevant” jersey on the NFL Draft stage, no one knew that the name on the back of it would rise to relevance so quickly.
The seventh-round pick had been passed over by nearly every NFL team, except for one. Not even the 49ers knew that this selection would hold so much magnitude, as Purdy was merely expected to be a third-string rookie sitting behind starter Trey Lance and backup Nate Sudfeld.
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How has Brock Purdy fared as an NFL starter?
San Francisco’s blueprint at the beginning of the season would be thrown out the door very quickly. The 49ers made the decision in late August to retain veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and release Sudfeld, allowing Purdy to remain in his third-string role.
When Lance suffered a crushing injury against the Seahawks in just the second game of the season, it seemed clear that Garoppolo was destined to lead the team to its third playoff appearance in four years. Garoppolo would go 6-3 in his next nine starts, making Super Bowl aspirations once again very real for the team that lost the big game just three years prior.
In a critical battle against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12, however, that vision faded. Garoppolo suffered a broken foot on the final play of the team’s opening drive, and “Mr. Irrelevant” was now QB1.
Purdy’s first drive of the game ended in a 3-yard touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk to give San Francisco a 10-7 lead. As he did with his starting role in Iowa State, Purdy has yet to look back.
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He drove the team to a 33-17 victory over Miami, finishing the day 25 for 37 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His starting debut came the next week, against none other than the great Tom Brady.
The rookie tore through Tampa Bay, becoming the first quarterback to ever defeat Brady in his first start. The game ended with an emotional hug from his father, who had witnessed his son take down a quarterback who has been playing pro football longer than Brock has been alive.
Purdy has yet to lose a game in the NFL. Since taking over in Week 13, “Mr. Irrelevant” has gone 7-0, with an overtime victory and two playoff triumphs. While many thought the rookie would crumble under postseason pressure, he has yet to let his team down. In the 49ers wild card battle against their division foe Seattle Seahawks, Purdy became the first NFL rookie to score four touchdowns in a playoff game. While the divisional round success over Dallas wasn’t the prettiest victory, Purdy got the job done, advancing his team to the NFC Championship for the second consecutive year.
The Conference Championship game, however, was nothing short of a nightmare for the young QB. On the sixth offensive play from the 49ers, Purdy suffered a torn UCL ligament after his throwing arm was hit by Eagles DE Haason Reddick. While Purdy was forced to return to action late in the game due to an injury to fourth-string QB Josh Johnson, the 23-year-old was virtually unable to throw the ball. His Super Bowl dreams were spoiled, as the 49ers were overtaken 31-7.
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How to watch the Super Bowl 2023
- When: Sunday, February 12, 2023
- Kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT)
- Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
- TV Channel: FOX
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