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When both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo went down with season-ending injuries in the middle of the season, San Francisco 49ers fans likely gave up on their Super Bowl dreams. The only QB option remaining on the roster was Brock Purdy, the rookie from Iowa State who was the very last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

But Mr. Irrelevant has turned relevant real fast, as Purdy has led the Niners to eight straight wins and an NFC Championship appearance. San Francisco will head across the country this Sunday to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

So, how many rookie quarterbacks have made it this far in the NFL playoffs, and have any rookie QBs ever reached the Super Bowl?

4 rookie QBs have started a conference championship game

Brock Purdy attempts a pass against the Cowboys.
Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers passes during an NFL divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys | Michael Owens/Getty Images

Purdy went on an unprecedented run to reach the NFC title game as the last pick in the draft, but he’s not the first rookie QB to make a conference championship game. Only four players before him have accomplished the feat.

2000 – Shaun King, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shaun King became the first rookie quarterback to start in a conference championship game back in 2000. It didn’t go too well for him, though, as the QB threw for just 163 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions in an 11-6 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

2005 – Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

In 2005, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to the AFC title game, and he didn’t play as poorly as King. The Miami (Ohio) product threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns, but three interceptions doomed him and the Steelers in a 41-27 loss to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

2009 – Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Before Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a Super Bowl, he reached the AFC Championship Game as a rookie in 2009. There, he played one of the worst playoff games of his career by completing just 13 of his 30 pass attempts for 141 yards, no touchdowns, and three picks. Baltimore lost to Pittsburgh, 23-14.

2010 – Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

Arguably the worst quarterback of the bunch, Mark Sanchez had the best showing of any rookie QB to ever make it to a conference title game. The USC product completed 17 of his 30 pass attempts for 257 yards, two touchdowns, and just one interception, but the Jets still lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 30-17.

Brock Purdy could be the first QB to make it to the Super Bowl

Of the four rookie QBs who led their team to the conference championship game, none of them were able to advance to the title game. This Sunday, Brock Purdy can become the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to win a conference championship game and reach the Super Bowl.

It won’t be an easy task against the ferocious defense on the other side of the ball. The Eagles forced 17 interceptions and racked up 70 sacks this season, so Purdy will be lucky to escape Lincoln Financial Field without any turnovers.

If he does play a clean game, though, Purdy will have a great chance to make history and lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.


Vernon Davis Would Rather See the 49ers Stick With Brock Purdy Than Go After Tom Brady