The San Francisco 49ers are back yet again in the NFC Championship Game, for the third time in four seasons, and have gotten there under the most unlikely of scenarios involving who has lead them there.
It was scheduled to be a year of transition at quarterback, with Jimmy Garropolo, who had led the Niners to a Super Bowl LIV loss against Kansas City and a championship game loss in Los Angeles last year, ready to move on, to be replaced by 2021 top pick Trey Lance. But Lantz, mostly inactive during ’21, was an early injury casualty and Garropolo was catapulted back into the starting role he was supposed to relinquish. And when Jimmy G. went down with a broken foot last month, the Niners’ third string QB, the final player taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, Iowa State’s very own Brock Purdy, was suddenly the man in the spotlight.
All he’s done since is lead the 49ers to seven consecutive wins, including consecutive post-season conquests of Seattle and Dallas, far and away the most successful debut of any NFL rookie QB, and on the precipice of true history. This afternoon in Philadelphia, he could become the first rookie to ever lead any team to the Super Bowl, if he can just get by his former Big 12 rival Jalen Hurts and the homestanding Philadelphia Eagles. T
As The New York Post’s Bridget Reilly recounted earlier this week, back in 2019, he damn near did just that, against odds that at the time seemed as insurmountable as those he’s facing today.
…In 2019 when Hurts was making his name known at Oklahoma after losing a starting spot at Alabama to Tua Tagovailoa. Purdy was in a similar situation to the one he faced this year, being the third-string quarterback looking for a chance to shine at Iowa State.
Oklahoma had mostly dominated Iowa State since 1990 before the Cyclones ended an 18-game losing streak with an upset victory in 2017. Then prior to Hurts’ arrival, Purdy led Iowa State to a 48-42 win over Oklahoma in 2018, passing for 318 yards with four touchdowns.
The pair met for the first time the following season and put on a show in a high-scoring November game to remember. Hurts got the best of Purdy, finishing the day with 273 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-41 Oklahoma win that came down to a 2-point conversion try for the Cyclones. Purdy, who erased a 21-point halftime deficit, racked up 282 yards for five touchdowns in defeat.
After Oklahoma jump out to the early lead, Purdy led a fourth quarter comeback to set up a dramatic final minutes.
With less than two minutes to go and needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to win, Purdy used his legs to get a first down inside Oklahoma’s 30. On third-and-goal, Purdy dropped back to find tight end Charlie Kolar for a 13-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 42-41. Rather than tying it up, Iowa State decided to go for the win. Purdy was intercepted in the end zone and Oklahoma, ranked ninth in the country at the time, survived.
So Purdy, who’s already overachieved more than arguably anyone else in NFL history, has some degree of experience to fall back on as a reminder that despite long odds against it, what with the Eagles, at 15-3 and with home field advantage, and the Niners experiencing several key injuries to running backs and offensive linemen, he could indeed pull off another upset. And, as CBN News’ Tre Goins-Phillips recounts, he has one other arrow in his quiver to fall back on if he should need it:
Purdy, 23, shared the faithful revelation after admitting he once elevated football above his relationship with the Lord — a sin for which he sought God’s forgiveness.
“It was just a great reminder of where my identity is, where it lies,” he told Sports Spectrum. “And it’s in Jesus. And I continue to lean on Him. Again, the next day I didn’t go out and throw for 500 yards and was this awesome quarterback, but it was just this peace that I had with Him knowing that, ‘Hey, no matter what, I’m going to face moving forward during college football, God and Jesus are going to be my identity. And whatever I face, I won’t be shaken from it.’ I’ve got a great foundation in Him.”
In his Instagram bio, Purdy describes himself as a “believer in Jesus.”
“The Lord is my rock and I will not be shaken,” he wrote in one Instagram post alongside a picture of himself pointing upward, revealing a white wristband with a black cross on it. “I love you boys and will go to war with y’all time and time again.
No doubt the Philly crowd will try to rile him. And all indications are if he gets off to a poor start, this game could be over for all intents and purposes fairly quickly.
But what if–just what if–a higher power, or perhaps a stellar performance from the likes of Christian McCaffery (ironically named, wouldn’t you say?), who began the season languising in Charlotte–intervened? What if the Niners somehow pulled it off?
Would Philadephia fans boo JESUS?
Well, they’ve come close before. And that was in a late season regular season game with nothing at stake.
One way or the other, this will be a memorable Sunday in Philly. And regardless of the outcome, Mr. Purdy will never again be Irrelevant.