The fact that Brock Purdy is still the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers should come as no surprise after the steady career that Mr. Irrelevant accumulated during his four years at Iowa State. In four years as the Cyclone’s starter, Purdy threw for 12,170 yards, 81 touchdowns, 33 interceptions with a 67% completion rate culminating in a total QBR of 151. Purdy was then drafted with the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, a year after Kyle Shannahan traded away three first-round picks to secure North Dakota State QB Trey Lance. Many could infer that the 49ers took Purdy as a backup presence to what the Niners thought was their new franchise quarterback. Trey Lance won the starting job at the beginning of the 2022 season, but was quickly replaced after a season ending a ankle injury of the first quarter in Week 1. As a result of Trey Lance’s Week 1 injury, the 49ers rode with veteran backup Jimmy Garoppolo until he succumbed to a season ending foot injury in Week 13. Since acquiring the keys to the 49ers offense in Week 14 of 2022, Brock Purdy has gone 7-0 as a regular season starter and 2-1 in the playoffs.
Brock immediately displayed confidence in Week 13 of last season after Jimmy G went down with a season-ending injury— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) September 8, 2023
Listen to "Mr. Relevant: Brock Purdy's NFL Story" - https://t.co/onMKvJD5f0
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When young unproven players have a stellar start to their NFL career like Brock Purdy, a common trend of decrease in production is seen in their second season. This downward trend of production in a player's second season is often referred to as the sophomore slump. The sophomore slump for Brock Purdy seems to be becoming more of a sophomore standout season as Purdy picked up right where he left off in 2022 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season. Purdy went 19-29 for 220 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no turnovers. Even though Purdy’s postseason run was cut short due to a UCL injury in his throwing elbow, Purdy has shown that he is the right option at QB for the Niners moving forward. Although Purdy is continuing to show that he is able to be a serviceable QB in the NFL, the players and system he has around him are the major contributors to his early career success.
In order for quarterbacks to be productive in the NFL they need adequate protection in order to make accurate and decisive reads. One if not the most important factor in Purdy’s development and success is the quality of the offensive line around him. The 49ers finished the 2022 season with the seventh best offensive line in the league on top of having the highest ranked defense to end the 2022 season. The culmination of a solid offensive line and defense was complemented by the sixth best wide receiver core in the NFL. Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk are another major factor in the young quarterback's run of good form. Each of these players bring a different element to Kyle Shannahan’s west coast scheme that is comparable to the traditional spread offense that Purdy ran at Iowa State. The 49ers could be argued as the most complete team in 2023, which has resulted in them being ranked as one of the top three teams to win the Super Bowl this season.
You should not be surprised to see the San Francisco 49ers reach or eclipse their 2023 predicted record of 13-4 due to the overall quality of the organization, scheme, and player personnel. Brock Purdy will continue to shine in this offense, like he did in Week 1, so long as the 49ers can stay healthy and not finish the 2023 season T21 in BUS like in 2022. Purdy will continue to have some growing pains as he gains more experience in the league, but I will not be surprised to see him and the rest of the 49ers holding up the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.