Brock Purdy makes historic first NFL career start in week 14

By: Abby Altman

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For the past 4 seasons, Brock Purdy had been the face of the Iowa State Cyclones football program. The quarterback had been a consistent leader on and off the field, and his impressive performances caught the attention of many NFL scouts. 

As a freshman in 2018, Purdy burst onto the scene by leading the Cyclones to an upset win over the then-No. 6 Oklahoma. He finished the season with 2,250 passing yards and 16 touchdowns, earning Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors. 

Over the next 3 seasons, Purdy continued to improve and establish himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. He set a school record for passing yards in a season with 3,982 in 2019 and led the Cyclones to 3 straight bowl appearances. 

In his senior season, Purdy threw for 3,188 yards and 19 touchdowns, leading Iowa State to a 7-3 record and a victory over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. He was named a team captain and earned All-Big 12 honorable mention honors for the second time in his collegiate career. 

As the very last pick in the 2022 NFL draft, Brock Purdy inherited the title of Mr. Irrelevent. However, this season has been nothing but relevant for Purdy. After being drafted 262nd in the draft out of Iowa State, Purdy joined the San Francisco 49ers as a 3rd string quarterback behind Trey Lance and Jimmy Garrapolo. 

Trey Lance suffered a season-ending injury in week 2, making Jimmy Garrapolo the starter and Purdy the number 1 backup. Then in week 13, Garrapolo suffered a severe ankle injury, ruling him out for the remainder of the regular season. 

Purdy stepped up late in the 1st quarter versus the Dolphins in week 13, completing 29/37 with 210 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Purdy led to 49ers to a 33-17 victory over Miami. 

After his impressive showing, Purdy was set to have his first career NFL start in week 14, against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Purdy’s family bought tickets to this game weeks prior, hoping to see Tom Brady play, not knowing this would be their son’s first career start. And what a start it was. 

Purdy and the 49ers spoiled Tom Brady’s homecoming, beating Tampa Bay 35-7. Purdy threw 16/21, with 185 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 28-yard back-shoulder touchdown pass to RB Christian McCaffrey, and a 32-yard touchdown pass to WR Brandon Aiyuk. Brock Purdy led the 49ers offense to 4 touchdown drives in the 1st half alone. 

Purdy made sure to find NFL legend Tom Brady on the field post-game. “You played great,” Brady said as the two shook hands. “Good job. Good going.” 

Late into the blowout, Purdy was taken out of the game and replaced by former 4th-string QB Josh Johnson. 

Just a day after Purdy’s historic start, news broke regarding his health and current situation. The rookie QB managed to handily defeat Brady and the Bucs, all while playing through an oblique and rib injury. Purdy underwent an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the situation. The QB was listed as day-to-day following testing, suggesting that Purdy avoided serious injury. 

Purdy stated in a press conference that he could have finished the game, despite being taken out, and appears optimistic about his week 15 status. 

“Yeah, I mean, we’ll see how it goes this week,” Purdy said. “I just felt a little tight at the end, just from taking some hits. But honestly, if I needed to play throughout the rest of the game, I definitely would have. So, I’m going to get some treatment on it and will be ready to roll.”

After a quick turnaround, the 49ers played the Seahawks on Thursday Night Football, taking a 21-13 victory. Purdy was cleared to play through his injury, and went 17/26, with 217 yards and 2 touchdowns. With this victory, the 49ers officially clinched the NFC West and secured their spot in the playoffs. 

Now that the NFC West and a spot in the playoffs have been clinched, less pressure currently sits on the 49ers shoulders for the last few games of the season. For Purdy, however, the starting spot is not automatically his going into the playoffs. 

While it is unlikely for veteran QB Jimmy Garrapolo to return in time for the 49ers playoff run, Purdy will need to continue winning in order to secure the starting position in the chance that Garrapolo does return. 

Purdy beat the Commanders 37-20 in week 16, completing 15/22, with 234 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. 

While it seemed as if there wasn’t much change likely in the 49ers playoff scenario, Brock Purdy led San Francisco to yet another victory, this time in overtime against the Raiders in week 17. Combined with a Minnesota Vikings loss to Gren Bay, the 49ers have moved up into the 2nd seed in the NFC. A victory in week 18 will secure the number 2 seed. 

Purdy has played 4 games in the National Football League and is just the 4th rookie quarterback in history to win his first 4 NFL starts. 

San Francisco will finish off the season in week 18 against the Cardinals.

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