With Jimmy Garoppolo sadly going down with a season ending foot injury against the Dolphins on Sunday, improbably, backup quarterback Brock Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Mr. Irrelevant himself, has become the starting quarterback for the hottest team in football. Yeah. It's a scary thought for most, with most fans declaring the season over without Garoppolo. Even NFL.com published an article which said that the 49ers' Superbowl Hopes were over in wake of the injury.
However, there are homers like me who still believe that Purdy can keep the dream alive and still take the 49ers far into the playoffs. Here are three reasons why I think he can...and three reasons why he might not be able to do so.
Reasons why I believe
1. He looked good on Sunday.
This is always a good start. Purdy made some impressive off the script plays when there was pressure in his face, like that 3rd down pass to Kittle or that lob to Deebo. He missed some throws, but overall, his game looked like a typical 2021 Jimmy Garoppolo game, and we all know how well that 2021 season went with Garoppolo. Now it'll be up to Purdy to keep it up when he's the starter and the focus is solely on him.
2. He has the best talent in the NFL.
Deebo Samuel. Christian McCaffery. Brandon Aiyuk. George Kittle. These guys are all among the best in the NFL at their positions. They've also had to carry offenses by themselves, even with bad quarterbacks. McCaffery had never played with a good QB until he joined the 49ers, yet carried an awful Panthers team for years, even when struggling with injuries. Aiyuk was a WR1 in 2020 when we had nobody, even with Nick Mullens playing QB. Kittle set the recieving yards record by a TE in a year where a majority of the games were started by Mullens and CJ Beathard, and with no outside WR threats to take away the focus of the defense. Deebo carried our offense early in 2021, and even though it was a small sample size, destroyed the Rams with Mullens in 2020. We also have Trent Williams to block for Purdy to (hopefully) give him some more time. These guys can carry Purdy by giving him easy throws that they can turn into huge gains.
That's just on the offense. Our defense has shown us this season that they can win when the offense isn't producing, a talent that's going to be needed down the stretch, starting as soon as next week against a stingy Tampa Bay defense. Our defense is built to win 13-10, taking the pressure off of Purdy as he likely won't be in many shootouts. And, again, an advantage of this defense, as Fred Warner has already stated, is that Purdy has been practicing against the best of the best for the last year. He is ready to take on lesser defenses with superior talent and ride that talent as far as it can take him.
3. He has Kyle Shanahan (and Brian Griese)
Remember all of that talk about how Mike McDaniels made Kyle Shanahan? Yeah...no. Shanahan won with his third string QB on Sunday and dominated the Dolphins except for two huge plays, the 75 yarder to Sherfield and the 45 yarder to Hill. Shanahan now has a full week to tailor the offense to Purdy's strengths and weaknesses, giving him easy completions that, again, our superior talent can turn into big plays. We have the best playcaller in the NFL drawing up plays for him. He made Nick Mullens look decent with George Kittle and nobody else, he made CJ Beathard look decent in 2020, and before that, he had Brian Hoyer 3-0 with the 2014 Browns and turned Matt Schaub into a pro-bowl QB. Furthermore, Purdy will be coached by Brian Griese, who had Jimmy Garoppolo playing the best football of his life until his injury (we don't exactly know Griese's impact, but we can assume he played a role in Garoppolo's resurgence). Purdy is in good hands. He just has to excecute and let everyone else bring him along.
Three reasons why I don't
1. Defensive Coordinators now have film, and can focus directly on him
Nobody expected Purdy to play against Miami, let alone start or win. Now that Purdy has done that, and taken over as the starter, however, defensive coordinators can focus all of their attention on him to ensure that Purdy doesn't win again. Make no mistake, Purdy is easily the weakest link on this 49ers team, which is a scary thought considering Purdy plays the most important position. Miami already blitzed him heavily, though there was a time where they tried to back off because Purdy was shredding the blitz, but it's pretty safe to assume that, now having time to study Purdy's strengths and weaknesses and then create schemes to limit those strengths and attack those weaknesses, defensive coordinators will be able to shut Purdy down. If that happens, it'll again come down to the defense to win us games. While I think that's a safe enough strategy in the regular season, where we don't play any more powerhouses like Kansas City, Buffalo, Cincinnati, or Philadelphia, when we do play those offenses, we could be in for trouble if Purdy can't move the ball.
2. Purdy is still a 7th round rookie
Purdy shined when the lights were on him on Sunday, but perhaps he won't be able to do so when he has a week to stress about those lights. On Sunday, he was able to go out and just play; now, he will be exposed to a week of NFL media speculation as well as tons and tons of people calling him trash and calling for Baker Mayfield to be signed as the new starter (or any other free agent QB, like Cam Newton). Will he be able to shine as brightly when he can feel the pressure from the fans? Will he be able to play when Tom Brady's on the other sideline? Most importantly, can he get it done when the lights are brightest - like on Thursday Night in Seattle or in the playoffs? We'll have to see, but the 49ers season will likely ride or die based on the answer to these questions.
3. The offensive line hasn't been good as of late
Purdy was pressured far too much against Miami. On the play where Jimmy got injured, Miami sent four guys and two of them got pressure in under 3 seconds. Brunskill and Brendel were blocking nobody, McGlinchey got beat instantly, and Jerome Baker was untouched on the edge. Purdy's 3rd down pass to Kittle was also a play where he was pressured instantly. Even going back to last week against the Saints, where Jimmy was pressured and banged up, this line has allowed some pressure. They will need to clean that up to give Purdy time to make good decisions and keep him upright for the rest of the season.
Overall, I'm mixed about this season. I'm gutted for Garoppolo, who was writing his Cinderella story before the football gods took away his pen. Garoppolo has been the ultimate team player for the last five years, and it showed; Garoppolo's potential final play as a 49er ended with Garoppolo getting injured dragging two guys 7 yards on his back to keep the 49ers in field goal range. Garoppolo's exceptional play of late, however, shouldn't be the expectation for Purdy; I think if Purdy can emulate Garoppolo's 2017 or 2021 seasons, we will be fine. Obviously that's a high bar, but Garoppolo's TD:INT ratio in those years was 7:5 (with one TD coming in the Seattle game, before his five starts) and 20:12. I have hope that Purdy can pull that off. Go 49ers! The Quest for Six is not over for 2022!
This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.