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Has Brock Purdy done enough to be the 49ers' long-term starter?

Purdy has passed each of his first five tests. Next up, a playoff run

San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

On the one hand, we want to live in the moment, enjoy this season, and see whether or not the 49ers can make a Super Bowl run with their third-string quarterback. On the other hand, you can’t help but look ahead and wonder if Brock Purdy can sustain this success as a starter for another season.

NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco answered that question in his most recent mailbag:

Brock Purdy has solidified his position as starter for NEXT year. (FB: Nate Cates)

Overreaction? No.

At this point, Purdy seems to have proven himself as the starter beyond this season. This is no knock on Trey Lance. After all, Lance remains a virtual unknown because he has taken only four games worth of snaps in two NFL seasons.

Purdy looks and acts like a veteran. He processes information quickly, makes all the throws and appears comfortable while taking control of the offense.

Those are all things we cannot state definitively about Lance. Purdy has not been perfect. And we have no idea how Shanahan measures Purdy against Lance.

But in a short period of time, Purdy has done nothing to warrant being relegated to a backup role.

My first reaction after reading that was, “that’s not coming from Matt.”

We’re going off an incomplete sample size of only five games. During that stretch, Purdy has ten touchdowns compared to three interceptions. He has the sixth-highest adjusted completion percentage — which is the percentage of passes thrown on target minus drops.

Add in his 8.0 yards per attempt — the fourth highest since Week 13, and the fact that Purdy isn’t taking sacks, and it’s easy to see why the 49ers would have faith in the 7th-round rookie moving forward.

Here’s a fun stat. Purdy has drawn more defensive pass interference penalties than 16 other quarterbacks this season, despite only appearing in five games as the starter — he played starter snaps against the Dolphins but technically didn’t start.

Purdy has shown he has the mobility and foot quickness to avoid sacks and perform under pressure, but it’s his willingness to throw the ball down the field that has opened up the offense and running lanes for Christian McCaffrey.

Purdy has 12 attempts over 20 yards since Week 13. He’s completed five of those passes with an average attempt of 14.6 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, Purdy’s thrown for 171 yards on deep passes during the past month.

From Week 2-12, Jimmy Garoppolo attempted 19 passes over 20 yards. He completed five for 176 yards and zero touchdowns with a 9.3 yards per attempt. Additionally, we saw the running game struggles with Garoppolo under center. Yes, he didn’t have CMC, but defenses didn’t respect the deep ball.

The comparison and contrast between the two are eye-opening, and the results speak for themselves on the field. And, to Brock’s credit, he hasn’t played an easy schedule. At the time, Miami and Tampa Bay were on winning streaks or, in the Buccaneers' case, had won three out of their last four.

But we’re not comparing Purdy to Garoppolo, as Matt said. It’s all about how Kyle Shanahan feels about Trey Lance. Purdy has an opportunity in front of him that few quarterbacks are afforded: a chance at a playoff run.

If Brock continues to be a playmaker, keeps the offense ahead of schedule, and bounces back from his mistakes, he can make Shanahan’s decision for him. He faced adversity for the first time against the Raiders and answered the bell.