For the second straight season, Brock Purdy led the 49ers to the NFC Championship.
But things could have looked very different for the second-year quarterback entering the 2023 NFL season, as Purdy revealed that the starting role wasn't always a lock despite an impressive rookie showing. After undergoing offseason surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow and rehabbing throughout the summer, Purdy was told the starting gig would be his in 2023 — with one exception.
If the 49ers could bring seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady back home to the Bay to play for the team he grew up on, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told Purdy they would start Brady over him in 2023. While Purdy understood, given the fact that he was Tom Brady, He was a little disappointed by the news – but excited nonetheless.
“It means a lot to me,” Purdy said. ESPN Nick Wagner. “I remember [Shanahan] Saying if we can get Tom Brady, we'll try to get him. I said: Yes, it is the goat. 'I get it.' But something deep down was kind of like, “Dude, I just showed you that I can play well in this system.” We were one game away from the Super Bowl. …And most of all, I was like, 'Okay, now let's go.' “
Doubt and being pushed to the bottom is nothing new for Purdy, as he sank to the bottom of the 2022 NFL Draft and was selected by San Francisco with the last pick.
He went from a third-string rookie quarterback in San Francisco to a starter on a playoff team after injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Within a few weeks, Mr. Irrelevant became something different.
The Brady news isn't exactly a surprise, even though the 49ers have been linked to the three-time MVP in the past. The San Mateo native announced his (second) retirement from the NFL last February, but fans weren't entirely convinced he'd hang up the cleats forever.
Returning to the game he loved in the city less than 30 miles from his hometown of San Mateo, Calif., seemed like the perfect way to end his cherished NFL career, but the fairytale ending was one the 49ers could only dream of. Faithful. Brady has officially ended his playing career.
But the faithful don't have much to grieve about, as Purdy has stepped in well, to say the least.
In 16 starts this season, only making the regular-season finale after the 49ers clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff, Purdy ranked first in several league metrics, including yards per attempt (9.6), yards per dropbacks (8.8), yards per completion (13.9) and expected points added per dropback (0.26).
Of course, Purdy is not Brady. But just like the Brady story, it's not about how you get there, it's about what you do when the opportunity presents itself. This story is still being written for Purdy.
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