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Brock Purdy adds resilience to his improbable 2022 portfolio

Brock Purdy and the 49ers gain valuable, playoff-worthy experience in comeback victory

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy had not trailed for a second in his three wins with the 49ers. He briefly trailed in his debut versus Dolphins when he took over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo but hasn’t looked back since.

Sunday was a different story for the seventh-round rookie from Iowa State. The 49ers’ other-worldly defense didn’t live up to its moniker, allowing quarterback Jarrett Stidham and the Raiders to throw for 365 yards and tally 34 points.

Purdy and the 49ers’ offense faced a 10-point deficit late in the second half, putting the rookie in unfamiliar territory. With the 49ers’ sights set on a deep playoff run, Purdy’s second-half response inspired a lot of confidence.

The 49ers fell behind 24-14 with 10:34 left in the third quarter after they had punted on their opening possession of the second half. Purdy led them on an efficient, 8-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Christian McCaffrey house call from 14 yards out.

Then, fast forward to late in the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 27-27. Purdy drove the 49ers down the field for the game-leading touchdown, a quick-hitting drive that spanned 75 yards in five minutes.

At that moment, it felt like Purdy had just led the 49ers to a game-winning drive, and the No. 1 defense would continue its second-half run and stop the Raiders. But credit to Stidham, Davante Adams, and the Raiders for finding a way to tie up the game at 34 apiece.

That wasn’t enough?

Brock Purdy led the 49ers on a potential game-winning drive with 1:11 left on the clock, setting up veteran kicker Robbie Gould for a 41-yard field goal that could’ve walked it off at the end of regulation.

In those last two drives, Purdy went 6-of-10 for 118 yards. One was a touchdown drive for the lead; the other put the 49ers in a position for a game-winning field goal.

The 49ers had been steam-rolling opponents coming into Week 17, beating teams by an average of double digits. None of the games with Brock Purdy as a starter were particularly close and never tested his ability to lead drives in crunch-time situations.

As WR Brandon Aiyuk said post-game:

“The moment is never too big for [Brock Purdy]. We’re not just trying to put a plan out there to hide what he’s got going on. He’s leading 2-minute drive, changing play calls. Today really showed us this dude is on a different level and he can play, for sure.”

The 49ers didn’t expect a heavy-weight bout on Sunday as 10-point favorites, but what ensued was the perfect test for their young quarterback, who’s looking to lead them on an eventual Super Bowl run.