The San Francisco 49ers have been cooking in ways Russell Wilson hasn’t experienced in years. Since starting the season 3-4, the Niners have reeled off nine wins in a row and have already clinched another NFC West title. Much of that winning streak has come with Brock Purdy leading the way under center. Not only are the 49ers getting it done with a rookie quarterback, but they’re doing it with a guy who was never supposed to be relevant in the NFL.
Purdy joined an exclusive group in the Niners’ victory over the Raiders in Week 17 when he became only the fifth QB in league history to win his first four starts as a rookie. He’s now in a club with names like Ben Roethlisberger (2004), Mike Kruczek (Steelers, 1968), Virgil Carter (Bears, 1968), and Phil Simms (Giants, 1979).
No other 49ers QB had ever won their first three starts, and Purdy is at four and counting. We’re talking about a franchise that had Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Y.A. Tittle. For Purdy to do what he’s done from the Mr. Irrelevant position in the draft is remarkable. He’s no longer irrelevant and can already make an argument as the best Brock in the NFL. Brock Osweiler was a bust, and Brock Lesnar didn’t make it past the preseason with Minnesota in 2004. Former Pro Bowl defensive back Brock Marion might be the only Brock challenging Purdy for the crown.
What Purdy is doing should not be taken lightly, as he’s been more than just another game manager. He’s also making plays when necessary and already has head coach Kyle Shanahan’s trust on the field. Thus far, Purdy’s been allowed to take just as many, if not more, chances passing the ball than even Jimmy Garoppolo.
We’ve seen plenty of guys come in and play well in relief time or even get a few starts and play well, then fall back down to earth. Or the long-term starter comes back, and the no-name player shuffles back into obscurity. Purdy could be a different case based on the Niners’ QB situation that’s existed all year.
Trey Lance is supposed to be the future in San Francisco, but with his learning curve and bad season-ending injury, that could be in jeopardy if Purdy continues to play at this level. The team was doing fine under Jimmy G, but he also suffered a season-ending injury and was likely on his way out of SF anyway this offseason.
This could be Purdy’s team moving forward, depending on how Lance looks by next summer’s training camp. And Lance recently had a second surgery on the ankle that sidelined him early in the season. Four of the Niners’ nine consecutive wins have come with Purdy at the helm. If he can help guide this team to another deep playoff run, coupled with the status of Lance and Garoppolo, Purdy could be back as QB1 in his second NFL campaign.