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The Brock Purdy Experiment: Could Anyone Play QB For The 49ers?

John Moran

Brock Purdy handing the ball off to star running back Christian McCaffrey.

The 49ers are yet to lose a game in which Brock Purdy both started and finished. Purdy’s record for games he has played in all sixty minutes stands at 10-0. The only game he has started in and lost was last season’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship, in which he was sidelined after completely tearing his UCL. The 49ers would lose that game and, therefore, their Super Bowl hopes, but Purdy is right back to top form this season, with three more wins to add to his seven from last season.

However, questions have been raised about his success. No one says he hasn’t been successful, but when a seventh-round pick plays the way he does, there has to be another reason. How could every single scout in the league miss out on a talent like that? Right? What is the anti-Purdy side of sports media saying?

They are saying that the 49ers roster is so dominant that it doesn’t matter who plays quarterback. Some believe that you could throw in just about any back-up in the league, and they would be putting up All-Pro numbers, and to be honest, there is some truth to that. The 49ers are dominant. They have Christian McCaffrey, who, when he isn’t injured, is a consensus top-three running back in the league, putting up over 1,300 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in an incredible 2019 season with the Carolina Panthers. The receiving group includes George Kittle, the 2nd best receiving tight end per Professional and a top-tier blocker. Brandon Aiyuk is currently the top-ranked receiver per Pro Football Focus (PFF), and Deebo Samuel, their receiver-half-back hybrid, is a top twenty player per PFF. This pass-catching unit is most likely the best in the league, and that isn’t even mentioning the 49ers' incredible defense, including top ten linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, as well as 2023 Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa.

There are certainly outside reasons for Purdy’s success at the quarterback position; many quarterbacks would do well on the 49ers. But there is evidence to suggest that Purdy is succeeding at least partially on his own merit. Jimmy Garoppolo, a quarterback with incredible numbers in terms of completion percentage and two 3,800-plus yard seasons in the past, barely beat Purdy on the stat sheet in the 2023 season, which was when Purdy had his NFL debut. Garoppolo averaged 251 yards, 67% completion, and 1.75 touchdowns per game before his unfortunate injury exit, while Purdy averaged 235 yards, 67% completion, and 2 touchdowns per game throughout the same season. Garappolo is an established quarterback who has had general success wherever he’s been but Purdy was able to nearly match him in performance.

It is the opinion of the author that Purdy is a legitimate talent who has been winning games at least partially due to his own merit. He absolutely has a stacked roster around him, and that certainly contributes greatly. But he is performing better than most would. Of course, his sample size is only eleven games. So, who really knows this early in his career? We will continue to find out over the course of the 2023-2024 NFL season.


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