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Nobody expected this. Last year, quarterback Brock Purdy lost four of his last six games at Iowa State. The San Francisco 49ers made him “Mr. Irrelevant” in the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting him with the final pick as 261 players were called before him. Now, he can’t lose.

Purdy has gone 7-0 in a 49ers uniform and has the team one step away from a Super Bowl berth as the Niners travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC title game on Sunday. A championship was far from the minds of San Francisco fans after the Niners hit rock bottom three weeks into the season.

Brock Purdy has been the unlikely hero for the 49ers

Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers passes during an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium on January 22, 2023, in Santa Clara, California. | Michael Owens/Getty Images.

Purdy wasn’t the guy who was supposed to lead the 49ers to the NFC title game. He wasn’t even supposed to see any action this year. When veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo broke his ankle during a December win over the Miami Dolphins, a Niners Super Bowl berth was far from anyone’s mind.

Garoppolo was already the backup to former No. 1 pick Trey Lance, who was already out with a season-ending injury. Now, the rest of the season rested on the shoulders of Purdy, who relieved Garoppolo against Miami and went 25-for-37 for 210 yards. He threw two touchdowns and had an interception.

Since then, it’s been Purdy’s team.

The 23-year-old Purdy made his first career NFL start against Tom Brady and handled himself like a seasoned veteran. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns in San Francisco’s 35-7 victory. It was the first of seven straight wins for Purdy and the Niners.

Purdy hasn’t been asked to carry the load on a team that’s great up front on both sides of the ball. He has, however, thrown at least two touchdown passes in every game except one. During last week’s 19-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, he completed 19 of 29 passes for 214 yards but didn’t throw for any scores.

Purdy helped right the ship after the 49ers hit rock bottom early

When the season began, nobody really knew what to expect from the 49ers as Lance took the starting job from Garoppolo. It was only a matter of time before Lance became San Francisco’s No. 1 quarterback after the Niners traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft to select him with the third overall pick. The 49ers traded their No. 12 overall pick in 2021, along with two first-round picks and a third-rounder, to the Dolphins to select Lance.

With that much draft capital used to being in Lance, San Francisco opted to roll with him to start the 2022 season. Things got ugly right from the beginning.

Playing at a rain-soaked Soldier Field in Week 1, Lance and the Niners managed just 10 points in an ugly 19-10 to the lowly Chicago Bears. Lance completed 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards and no touchdowns. The Bears intercepted him once. Chicago won just two more times the rest of the season and owns the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Things got worse for San Franciso the following week when Lance was carted off the field with a broken right ankle during the second series of the game. He had season-ending surgery, and Garoppolo took over. Garoppolo and the Niners had an ugly Week 3 outing, falling 11-10 to a highly disappointing Denver Broncos team.

Garoppolo helped keep the team afloat by going 2-2 after losing to the Broncos. They haven’t lost since. Jimmy G won four straight to get the team to 7-4 before he left the Miami game with his injury. Purdy came in to relieve Garoppolo and has won all seven starts of his career.


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