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'Poised' rookie QB Brock Purdy leads 49ers to NFC West title with his identity in Christ

This year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” is proving himself to be anything but for the San Francisco 49ers.

Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, who took on the annual moniker that goes to the last pick of the NFL draft, continued his December tear on Thursday night in Seattle. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 217 yards, two touchdowns and no picks as he directed San Francisco to an important victory, 21-13, against the division-rival Seahawks.

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With the win, the 49ers (10-4, seven consecutive wins) secured an NFC West title and guaranteed a home game and a top-three seed in the playoffs.

In the postgame press conference, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan commented on how impressed he was with Purdy’s performance, considering Purdy didn’t throw a pass in practice this week due to a nagging rib injury.

“It was definitely another level (for him). It was another level for me just watching someone do it [with] the injury he had last week, and for him to be ready to go today,” Shanahan said. “Still, you could tell in pregame warmups a number of things that were really tough for him, and for him to be able to just play, let alone be able to play the way he did … the team had a lot of respect for him before that game, but a lot more now.”

Shanahan added later: “He’s definitely the most poised rookie I’ve ever had.”

In his own press conference, Purdy made sure to deflect the praise that everyone knew would be coming his way.

“Honestly, I’m just another component — another piece — to this team in terms of a guy coming in and just doing what he’s asked,” he said. “I’m the quarterback. I have to make decisions. I trust in how the coaches teach me throughout the week. I just try to get the ball out to the guys on time.

“And honestly, I don’t think Jimmy [Garoppolo] and Trey [Lance] get enough credit for what they’ve done. I’m just now coming on the scene where these guys have been here. … I want to continue what they got rolling.”

The 49ers began the season with Trey Lance as the starting quarterback, but he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against these same Seahawks in Week 2. In to replace him was Garoppolo, who led San Francisco to a Super Bowl as the starter during the 2019 season and to the NFC championship game last year. However, Garoppolo injured his foot early in the game against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 4.

The 22-year-old from Iowa State was the next man up. Purdy’s 25 completions on 37 attempts, 210 yards and two touchdowns with one interception helped the 49ers cruise past the Dolphins, 33-17. Then a week later, he got his first ever start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and completed 16 of 21 passes for 185 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions as his team dominated, 35-7. He’s the first quarterback since 1950, along with Aaron Rodgers and Garoppolo, to complete 70% of his attempts with four touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two starts.

Purdy’s play has set the NFL world abuzz. His steadiness in games, he says, comes from his relationship with the Lord.

“You go out there, you prepare as best you can, you get better every single day at practice, and once you get your opportunity, man, it’s what are you going to do with it?” he said after his unexpected appearance against Miami. “For me, I believe in the Lord, and I trust in Him. I just go out there, and I just play, you know?”


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A post shared by Brock Purdy (@brock.purdy13)

Purdy, who is vocal about God on Twitter and on Instagram, even displayed his faith during Thursday’s game with a wristband on his left arm that referenced the Great Commandment from the Bible passage Matthew 22:37-39: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Purdy and his brother, Chubba, now a quarterback at Nebraska, were featured in the Fall 2019 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine. In it, Brock discussed his ultimate motivation for playing football.

“Every time I play — no matter what happens — I want others to see God through my actions,” Brock said. “Every time I step on the field I want to bring Him glory. Even when we lose, I point to God and thank Him for the opportunity. Everything happens for a reason; it’s all a lesson from the Lord. It’s a game, it’s not my life.”


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A post shared by Brock Purdy (@brock.purdy13)

During an appearance on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in August 2021, Brock shared an important moment in his walk with Christ that happened soon after he got to Iowa State. At the end of a difficult first week of fall camp, Purdy got on his knees and asked God to forgive him for putting football ahead of his relationship with Christ.

“It was just a great reminder of where my identity is, where it lies,” Purdy said. “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.”


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A post shared by Brock Purdy (@brock.purdy13)

With his identity rooted in Christ and with the NFC West locked up, Purdy along with his San Francisco teammates will seek to continue to gain ground on the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC playoff standings. They will next host the Washington Commanders (7-5-1) at home on Saturday, Dec. 24, at 4:05 p.m. ET.

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