San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy has had a lot on his shoulders in his young career, but in every step of the way, he’s met—and surpassed—every possible expectation. His legend just got even bigger after leading San Francisco to a 41-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the opening round of the 2023 NFL playoffs.
Forced into the lineup six weeks ago after injuries to both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy—who was the last pick in the last round of the 2022 NFL draft—has gone undefeated and posted some of the best statistics of any quarterback over the past two months. But his performance on Saturday afternoon against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card round may have been his most impressive performance to date.
He initially struggled through a rainy first half, completing just 9-of-19 passes and narrowly avoiding a couple of interceptions. The 49ers just found the end zone once in the first half, and trailed 17-16 after two quarters.
But when the weather cleared up, so did Purdy’s performance.
“Mr. Irrelevant” went 9-of-11 in the second half for 185 yards and two touchdowns through the air to go along with one on the ground. Combined with his first half, Purdy put up a box score that places him among quarterback royalty:
Brock Purdy's 332 passing yards are the 3rd most in a game in @49ers postseason history.— Carlos M. Ramírez (@Tomapapa) January 15, 2023
Joe Montana 357
Joe Montana 347
Brock purdy 332
Jeff Garcia 331
Joe Montana 331
Every single quarterback in NFL history who has had a better adjusted yards per attempt game in the playoffs on as many passes as Brock Purdy has had today:— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) January 15, 2023
They each had one game
But it wasn’t just stat-padding for the rookie in his first career postseason start. Purdy often extended plays with his feet, creating opportunities where there weren’t any. Take this early fourth quarter touchdown pass that gave the 49ers a 31-17 lead:
Purdy also effectively put the ball in his playmakers’ hands throughout the game. Star receiver Deebo Samuel had six catches for 133 yards, including a monster 74-yard touchdown that effectively put the game away.
But Purdy’s most impressive play of the day may have been a late incompletion. With the game already well in hand, Purdy bootlegged to his left, then scrambled back to his right. After buying as much time as physically possible, Purdy launched the ball off his back foot while he was getting hit and needled a ball right into the arms of Brandon Aiyuk in the corner of the end zone.
Brandon Aiyuk ruined Brock Purdy’s legacy play pic.twitter.com/GDVa8lMCns— Brian Y (@byysports) January 15, 2023
But the third-year receiver dropped it.
Purdy still finished the game with a 131.1 passer rating, a whopping 11.1 yards per pass attempt, and he tied the rookie record with four touchdown (three passing, one rushing) in a playoff game.
Most importantly, though, the 49ers are now 6-0 with Purdy as their starting quarterback.
When the reigns were handed to Purdy, many questioned whether San Francisco could realistically make a deep run in the playoffs. They have a suffocating defense, they’ve got a dynamic runner in Christian McCaffrey, but with a quarterback who was nearly overlooked by all 32 teams in the 2022 NFL Draft, it appeared their potential was limited.
Yet Purdy continues to ball out. In each of his six starts, he’s thrown for at least two touchdowns and averaged at least eight yards per pass attempt. If there a ceiling that Purdy will eventually hit, we haven’t seen it yet, and that makes the San Francisco 49ers a dangerous team throughout the rest of this tournament.