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San Francisco, Meet Brock Purdy

While losing your starting quarterback just a month before the playoffs, and while in the race for a division title, isn’t ideal, there does seem to be some positives to take away from this situation.

It feels like the 49ers can’t catch a break when it comes to the quarterback position. Since Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017, five different quarterbacks have started at least two games. That number will grow to six this Sunday when rookie seventh-round pick Brock Purdy will lead the offense against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in light of Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a broken foot.

While losing your starting quarterback just a month before the playoffs, and while in the race for a division title, isn’t ideal, there does seem to be some positives to take away from this situation. For starters, Purdy played well against the Dolphins in relief of Garoppolo, all things considered. He went 25-of-37 for 210 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception as the 49ers defeated the Dolphins 33-17. In terms of Garoppolo’s status, tests showed that he doesn’t need surgery and could return in the playoffs. However, the earliest that Garoppolo could return would be the Divisional round, which means this is Purdy’s team for the foreseeable future. So in the meantime, fasten your seatbelts, 49ers fans, and let me introduce you to your new quarterback, Brock Purdy.

Brock Purdy’s College Career

Purdy had a successful four-year career at Iowa State. His 12,170 passing yards are the most in Cyclones history, and more than 2,500 yards greater than second-place Bret Meyer. Iowa State went to a bowl game in each of Purdy’s four seasons, including an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl in 2020. His 81 touchdown passes are 13th all time in the Big 12, and his 151.8 career passer rating ranks 18th in the conference’s history. In total, Purdy owns 31 Iowa State records, which led to him being selected by the 49ers with the final pick in the draft this past April.

Expert Opinions

Going into the 2022 NFL Draft, several college football experts had varying opinions on Purdy. Thor Nystrom of BettingPros (formerly of NBC Sports EDGE) ranked the former Cyclone as his QB16, and No. 302 overall on his NFL Draft Big Board, giving him the comp of former Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning.

Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network noted that Purdy is an “above-average athlete with a decent arm,” but also included that Purdy’s “Non-elite traits limit his ceiling.” Cummings also added that Purdy’s accuracy gets worse when he goes deep, and that he can be skittish when facing pressure. In totality, Cummings concluded that Purdy is a “capable distributor with good accuracy in the short range” who has “competitive toughness, and enough athleticism to work off-script when needed… a lot of things you want in a backup/spot-starter.”

When speaking to Crissy Froyd on what he brings to the table, Purdy said he prides himself on being decisive.

“I know where I want to go with the ball and I’m accurate when I do it,” Purdy told Froyd ahead of the NFL Draft.

The conversation led to Purdy discussing his critics when it comes to his deep ball.

“(The deep ball) is not on tape as much,” Purdy told Froyd. “Coaches want to see 11-on-11, pressure in your face, you’re not in rhythm- if you’re moved off your spot, can you still make that deep ball throw? I think that’s what it’s going to come down to when I’m on a team, at practice, at camp, whatever it is.”

Froyd herself added that Purdy’s lower-body mechanics were some of the most sound in his draft class. Froyd also added that Purdy “has a quick processing ability, goes through his progressions well and has enough mobility to extend plays and occasionally make some of his own, even when that calls for putting his body on the line to move the chains.”

The best case scenario for the 49ers is that Brock Purdy ends up being similar to Taylor Heinicke in Washington- a scrappy guy who can make some plays, will lay everything on the line for his team, and the 49ers rally around him and ride him into the playoffs while he keeps Garoppolo’s seat warm. The worst case scenario is that Purdy is Christian Hackenberg and the 49ers bottom out and miss the playoffs. Based off what we’ve seen, albeit a brief sample, he seems much closer to the former rather than the latter. Regardless, this is the 49ers reality- depending on a third-string quarterback to carry the baton in the relay for an NFC playoff berth.