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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy impressing Kyle Shanahan as 49ers rookie QB seeks to enter NFL history books

Jan 23, 2023 at 1:19 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are now 15-0 when they tie or win the turnover battle. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy's last interception came on January 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders. He's had moments since then that have come close to resulting in turnovers, but they remained misses by opposing defenses.

In Purdy's two playoff games, including Sunday's 19-12 win over the Dallas Cowboys, the quarterback has failed to throw an interception or lose a fumble. He has taken care of the football, and head coach Kyle Shanahan credits that as one of the reasons why the 49ers' impressive 12-game win streak could continue.

"Yes, he's been unbelievable with that," Shanahan said via a conference call on Monday. "I think that's the number one thing he's done, and to be able to be as good with the ball as he has while still making a number of the plays that he has, that's definitely the thing I've been most impressed with."

In August, the 49ers made a decision that seems to have saved their season. They parted ways with the quarterback many felt to be the favorite to land the job as Trey Lance's backup. San Francisco gave Nate Sudfeld a contract that guaranteed him $2 million, only to pick Purdy when it came down to the 53-man roster cuts.

As QB3 on the depth chart, it's not like Purdy received a significant number of snaps. Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have stated they had no concerns entering the regular season with Purdy as Lance's backup. Of course, that was before Jimmy Garoppolo restructured his deal to return for one last ride with Shanahan and company.

What did the 49ers see in Purdy that gave them so much confidence in the young quarterback despite the limited number of opportunities to prove himself?

"When he first started out, he got such few reps because of how much reps we were giving to Trey and how much we were giving to Nate, but every time he got his one or two reps in practice, just how decisive he was and got the ball to the right spot and did it aggressively," Shanahan explained.

"[He] never seemed unsure of anything, and so he kept earning more reps, and the more reps we gave him, the more he continued to look the same and didn't take any steps back. And then he carried it over to some of the preseason games. So by the end of that, it was pretty easy to see how Brock was coming, and we knew we wanted to keep him on the roster and not risk him going to [the] practice squad, so it was a decision we had to make."

On Sunday, Purdy will become one of five rookie quarterbacks to start in a conference championship game since 1970 (h/t Niners Wire). The others are Shaun King of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1999), Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers (2004), Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens (2008), and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets (2009).

Those four other quarterbacks lost each of their games. Three of those quarterbacks were first-round picks. King was a second-round pick. Purdy has done the unthinkable. He entered the NFL as the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, No. 262 overall. Yet here he is, one win away from becoming the first rookie quarterback to start in a Super Bowl.

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