If we’re looking at hindsight, the moment Brock Purdy hit the field against the Miami Dolphins in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo, there was no way anyone was getting that San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback job back from him. Not Jimmy Garoppolo, not Trey Lance, nobody. With the quiet confidence he’s displayed in 2023, it was obvious he had this job before he injured his elbow in the NFC Championship game.
But when he stepped on the field, it was more, “who is this guy?” Well, it was a bit shaky at first, with some cautious playcalling. As the first half wore on, Purdy threw a terrible 4th down throw that got picked (though it was a desperation throw so it can’t be held too much against him) and seemed just like he’d hold down the fort until Jimmy G got back.
Then 3rd and 10 with 1:17 left in the first half happened.
Purdy got drilled just after the ball left his hands in a strike to George Kittle and it seemed like he had everyone’s attention. Shortly thereafter, and a duck to Christian McCaffrey that almost made you forget about him punishing that blitz (almost), he hits McCaffrey with seven seconds left in the first half putting the 49ers up by seven. The 49ers defense would finish the job in the second half with a pick-six to compliment the two field goals the offense brought in a 33-17 win.
And Garoppolo was out for the season. Who is this guy Purdy? Well he’d start the following week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Tom Brady. A player who has played football longer than Purdy has been alive.
Again, the game started strange with Purdy getting smacked on the first snap, but it was ruled as roughing and the 49ers kept going. Purdy started running what you may call the “Jimmy G” offense, including a Deebo Samuel scamper that led to a touchdown. Then, the second quarter hit and Purdy in the redzone again, after seeing nobody open, took off up the middle for a...rushing touchdown?
Trey Lance could do that and the times Jimmy G scampered in without his trademark QB sneak can be counted on one hand.
And then all hell broke loose. Purdy started gambling and making throws across his body, including a sick throw to Deebo Samuel. On third and 5, Purdy dropped an absolute bucket in a place only Christian McCaffrey could catch it, scoring the 49ers’ fourth touchdown. The officials needed time to verify it was a score and all of Levi’s Stadium erupted with “Purdy” chants; complete with shots of his father, Shawn tearing up and hugging the family.
We’ve come a long ways from Candlestick Park and the “We want Carr!” chants.
For me, anyways, that was the moment that I felt the 49ers had something. The Buccaneers were overrated in 2022, something the 49ers were happy to point out. What impressed me was how he was putting things on the money over and over and over again. There was a Brandon Aiyuk underthrow that made me cringe, but having been a 49ers fan for years, you just didn’t see what Purdy was doing very often.
Of course, we saw something similar with Colin Kaepernick when he started in place of Alex Smith and lit up the Chicago Bears. While something was there, could the NFL figure him out? After all, Kaepernick started to regress almost instantly. Against the New Orleans saints he had two pick-sixes to assist him and then he struggled mightily the second time against the Los Angeles Rams (the option pitch game). Kaepernick’s stock much improved in the postseason in the Green Bay game where he knocked out the Packers and won the hearts of many a 90s 49er fan. Many saw Kaepernick as having unlimited potential and a bright future, warts and all. There wasn’t much for warts with Purdy. Regardless, what we saw was better than Jimmy Garoppolo with the mobility and definitely better than Trey Lance.
The NFL never figured Purdy out. And they’ve had plenty of time and blueprints to expose him. The 49ers would go on to win every single game that season Purdy started and finished. Their season came to an end with that unfortunate elbow injury in the NFC Championship Game. At that point, Purdy’s rookie season had two playoff wins, one loss in the postseason and no losses in the regular season. Not bad.
The Purdy chants were the moment I felt the 49ers had found their quarterback. Tested and verified as the season went on. Unlike Troy Smith who won a game for the 49ers against the Denver Broncos in very ugly fashion (only to look worse the following week), Purdy blew out a Tom Brady-led team with his very own highlight reel. It also goes to show no quarterback beat Tom Brady in their first career start, well until Brock Purdy came along.
My only issues where his longevity. He tore his elbow up in the post season and then got concussed once (or twice?) in 2024. It made me raise an eyebrow, especially when he was pulled for stingers later in the season and you saw the Cincinnati Bengals deal with something similar in regards to Joe Burrow. That eyebrow has lowered. Purdy isn’t going anywhere.
We all, as fans, had that feeling at some point. Where did you realize Purdy was going to be the starting quarterback of the 49ers for awhile? Was it after the official announcement and trade of Trey Lance? Was it after the Purdy chants? Was it just after seeing him in Miami (wow, you are optimistic, because that was promising but not lights out).
It’s obvious Purdy isn’t going anywhere and the 49ers have something special regardless of how the Super Bowl plays out. I doubt the 49ers look at Kirk Cousins in 2024. Quarterbacks just don’t put up the stats Purdy does, no matter how good the pieces around him.
When did you know Brock Purdy wasn’t giving that starting job back?
This poll is closed
The Dolphins Game
The Bucs Game
When he went on a tear in the postseason
When he showed up healthy to start 2023
Other moment (specify in comments)