Who is new 49ers’ quarterback Brock Purdy?

Purdy McCaffrey 49ers
(AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Less than five minutes into the game against the Dolphins, 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stepped back for a pass on third down. The 49ers were in the red zone and had a touchdown in mind until the Dolphins’ defenders broke through the line and swallowed up Garoppolo. 

The 49ers settled for a field goal deep in Miami territory, but worse than that, their starting quarterback was laying on the field well after the whistle. Garoppolo suffered a broken foot on the sack, dashing his hopes of playing for the rest of the season.

Trailing 7-3, the hope for a win was put on the shoulders of young rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy had only seen the field one other time during the season, throwing for 66 yards and an interception on 4-9 passing. Up until that point, he was most well-known for being drafted with the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, deeming him “Mr. Irrelevant.”

Now it was up to him to lead the 49ers, a Super Bowl-contending team, to a win over the red-hot Dolphins. With all the lights on Purdy, he went out and put on a show.

Purdy finished the game with 210 yards passing, completing 67.6 percent of his passes and throwing for two touchdowns. His efforts helped the 49ers dominate the Dolphins in the 33-17 win.

With starting quarterback Trey Lance and backup Garoppolo riding the bench with injuries for the remainder of the season, Purdy will get more chances to lead the 49ers to playoff glory. Sitting at 8-4, the 49ers are looking for Purdy to stick it out in the starting role and pilot the team to the playoffs.

Although Purdy’s name may be fresh to some ears, he is anything but irrelevant to his alma mater, Iowa State University.

Purdy started all four of his seasons at Iowa State, mounting a career that will live in Iowa State’s history books for years to come. After it was all said and done, Purdy went down as the greatest quarterback Iowa State has ever seen. However, Purdy’s illustrious collegiate career started from humble beginnings, as it took a while for him to turn the heads of scouts. Purdy started his football career at Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona.

Purdy was so good his senior year that colleges started to take an interest, including big names such as Illinois, UCF, Texas A&M, and even Alabama. Although, one school stood out above the rest; Iowa State.

Purdy connected with Matt Campbell’s vision for the program and thought his talents could help the team reach newer heights. Purdy didn’t want to ride the bench for most of his collegiate career as he would have at Alabama. He wanted to make an impact right away.

That impact came sooner than expected, as Iowa State’s starting quarterback Kyle Kempt suffered an injury in the first game of the 2018 season. Zeb Noland was called up to action. Yet, after only one win in four games, Iowa State looked Purdy’s way.

Iowa State had a brick wall in front of them in a 4-1 Oklahoma State team, which the Cyclones hadn’t beaten in four matchups. It was a long shot, but Campbell put his faith in Purdy over Noland.

Purdy took that challenge to heart and played lights out. He went 18-23 for 318 yards and four touchdowns to upset the Cowboys 48-42. The first win for the true freshman, and a big win at that.

From that point on, a new era had begun. The era of Brock Purdy, the greatest quarterback to ever wear cardinal and gold.

Purdy would finish his rookie season winning seven of the last eight games, including a huge upset win over No. 6 West Virginia to give them bowl game eligibility. In the 2018 Alamo Bowl, Purdy nearly toppled another top-10 team in Washington State but came up just 2 points shy.

With the starting spot locked up, it was time for Purdy to show the college football world what he could do. 

Purdy threw for 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns to seven interceptions in his rookie season. Although he only played 10 games, he knew he was capable of more.

Purdy lit up his second season leading the team, throwing for 3,982 yards and 27 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He willed his team to a 7-5 record, battling through a conference that featured tough teams like No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 22 Texas. Purdy just couldn’t swing the games in his favor, losing by just one score in four of the five losses.

His efforts helped his team to another bowl appearance, this time in the Camping World Bowl against a top-15 team in Notre Dame. The 33-9 loss stung for Iowa State, but Purdy wasn’t done there. He was about to lead the Cyclones to one of the best seasons they’d ever had.

Leading up to the 2020 season, Purdy had done enough to completely change the landscape of Iowa State football. The program had been starving for success before Campbell, and Purdy helped realize the team’s potential.

The Cyclones entered the season with high expectations, but no one could have predicted the season that followed. 

The season started off rocky, as the Cyclones dropped their first game to Louisiana. However, after that loss, the team played lights out through the rest of the Big 12 season.

Purdy led the team to an eight-win season, dropping only one game in conference play to a top-10 Oklahoma State team. His efforts helped the Cyclones to the top of the Big 12 conference and an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game.

The No. 8 Cyclones were ready to take on the No. 12 Sooners, who had dominated the conference for years. Although Oklahoma came out on top 27-21, making the championship game and finishing the year at the top of the Big 12 record-wise was good enough for Purdy.

The season wasn’t done there. The Cyclones traveled to the Fiesta Bowl to take on Oregon in what turned out to be a dominant performance from the Cyclones.

Purdy capped off his historic season by being named the offensive MVP in the Fiesta Bowl and taking home First Team All-Big 12 honors. He was even turning heads from scouts in the NFL, as some people predicted he to go in the early rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.

The expectations for the 2021 Cyclones were the highest they had ever been. Iowa State was projected to be at the top of the Big 12 again, and Purdy was expected to be in the running for the Heisman at the end of the year.

However, when 2021 rolled around, the Cyclones didn’t look to be the same top-10 team as the year before. The conference season ate the Cyclones apart, and they finished the year with a 7-5 record, with four losses against conference opponents.

Purdy had a more efficient season than the year before, throwing for 3,188 yards and completing 71.7 percent of his passes for 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. However, Purdy never topped his 2019 season, and the wins weren’t coming like in 2020.

The Cyclones made it to another bowl game, making it four straight for Purdy, but a top-20 Clemson team made quick work of the Cyclones in the Cheez-It Bowl. That less-than-ideal senior season caused Purdy to fall off many scouting reports entirely.

Purdy had regressed from the start of his college career, and many NFL teams started to turn away. Going into the 2022 NFL Draft, it was a long shot for any team to pick him up, let alone in the earlier rounds.

Purdy sat and waited for his name to be called for three days, but it was looking as though he would go undrafted. Finally, as the draft was wrapping up, the 49ers took a chance on the Iowa State legend.

The 49ers saw something in Purdy that no other team saw. They saw a quarterback that was determined to win and had the leadership to lead his team.

Purdy was a living legend at Iowa State for a reason. Purdy had his name on nearly every record a quarterback could have at Iowa State. Completions, yards, completion percentage, and touchdowns. 

Purdy had some of the most productive seasons a quarterback had ever had at Iowa State. He also had the most productive career of any Iowa State quarterback ever.

People started calling Purdy the greatest Iowa State quarterback of all time, well before he was drafted into the NFL. The kid from Arizona had done exactly what he set out to do. He changed Iowa State football and brought a winning mentality to a team who had been the laughingstock of the Big 12 for many years.

Now, the best quarterback in the history of Iowa State football will get the shot to take down a living legend. Purdy will be the only rookie favored in his first start against Tom Brady.

Come Sunday, “Mr. Irrelevant” is about to become Mr. Relevant.

For more NFL coverage, like this Brock Purdy 49ers story, visit amNY Sports

Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, left, passes against Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Zach Sieler during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

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