Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers QB Brock Purdy sets records, draws rave reviews from LeBron James and teammates after first playoff start

Jan 14, 2023 at 7:29 PM--

Brock Purdy started off slow in his first postseason start at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, but by the time he was finished he established a new set of milestones, earned a fresh round of praise from his teammates and possibly found a new fan in one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Purdy was inconsistent in the early going of the 49ers' 41-23 Wild Card round win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, but he ended the day with 332 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-30 passing with four carries for 16 yards and one rushing touchdown. Along the way, Purdy etched his name in the record books in a number of ways:

-Became the first player with multiple passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in his first playoff game since Colin Kaepernick did so for the 49ers against the Packers in 2012 (ESPN Stats & Info)

-Became the first rookie quarterback to win a start since Russell Wilson in 2012 (ESPN Stats & Info)

-Became the first rookie quarterback in league history to account for four touchdowns in a postseason game (Associated Press)

-Threw for the second-highest yardage total in a postseason game for a rookie in league history (Russell Wilson, 2012) (Associated Press)

-Became the second rookie in the Super Bowl era to throw and run for a touchdown in his first postseason start (Russell Wilson, 2012) (NFL Research)

-Threw for the most yardage in a postseason game for a 49ers quarterback since Joe Montana (357) in Super Bowl XXIII (Matt Maiocco/NBC Sports Bay Area)

-Became the youngest player in league history (23 years, 18 days) to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in a postseason game (Nick Wagoner/ESPN)

Purdy even got some love from LeBron James, who shared his evaluation of the 49ers quarterback with the rest of the world on Twitter.

A big smile came across Purdy's face when he was informed about James's tweet after the game.

"LeBron said that? Oh, that's sweet," Purdy said. "Yeah. No, that's awesome. That's so cool."

Purdy got off to an inauspicious start against the Seahawks when the ball slipped out of his hand during his first pass and landed downfield away from any 49ers receivers. But he got better as the game went along, finishing the first half 9-of-19 for 147 yards and one touchdown, then made his share of highlight plays while the 49ers pulled away during a 25-point run in the second half.

"The rain was going there a little at the beginning," head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the win. "He missed that first pass and was a little off on a couple but also made a couple off schedules there in the first half too that were real good. He ended up playing a hell of a game and the most impressive thing is not turning it over."

Purdy admitted after the win over the Seahawks that he may have had a touch of nervousness before the game began. But he quickly settled in and played like a quarterback who had been in the postseason before.

"There was some emotion going into the game," Purdy said. "You could just feel it in the environment with the fans and our teammates, like, 'Man, this is win or go home.' So you did feel that in pregame and what not. But once the game started, it was all, 'Hey, it's eleven on eleven. I've got to do my job. I've got to get it to the guys when they're in space and go from there.' But we didn't make it more than what it was."

Running back Christian McCaffrey was among those impressed with Purdy's poise, saying, "He didn't hesitate. He calmed down. He's no stranger to adversity and he responds really well. That's a mature football player, especially playing quarterback."

Saturday was the latest chapter in the story of Purdy's meteoric rise since taking over as the 49ers' quarterback after an ankle injury to former starter Jimmy Garoppolo during a December win over the Miami Dolphins. Purdy showed right away in that game he could be a player the 49ers can rely on, and he's been proving it every week since.

"Those are the big moments that prepare you for moments like this," linebacker Fred Warner said after the win. "He showed us over and over again who he is and the type of player he is, so I'm not surprised."

Purdy has yet to lose a game as an NFL starter and is continuing to defy the expectations that come with being a rookie who was selected with the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He proved on Saturday that he's capable of leading the 49ers to postseason success and is continuing to silence anyone who doubts the team's chances with him under center. The 49ers have believed in Purdy all along, and that belief grew even bigger after his first playoff victory.

"I felt that way from the beginning," Shanahan said. "Once he got in that game versus Miami he didn't have the luxury to sit there and worry about stuff the way the game was going. We just had to call plays to try to win the game, and he did such a hell of a job. He's done it every time since. We've got a lot of confidence in him and he gives us more and more confidence each week."

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