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Morgan Howen

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Can the 49ers reset the NFL quarterback market?

Purdy good.

Purdy good.
Image: Getty Images

If any team can settle the quarterback market a bit it’s the 2022 San Francisco 49ers.

They lost their starting quarterback — Trey Lance — who they selected third overall in last year’s draft in Week 2. He broke his ankle and they were forced to go with a player who was practicing on a different end of the field from the rest of the team over the summer.

The 49ers had seen enough of Jimmy Garoppolo and were ready to move on from him. Unfortunately, for both parties, the rest of the NFL wasn’t ready to move toward him, so he was on the roster as the No. 2 QB. Through necessity, he quickly regained his starting spot. It was rocky early — injuries across the roster hurting the team just like last season — but since Halloween, the 49ers have looked like one of the NFL’s best teams.

Hard-hitting speed on both sides of the ball. Both track shoes and mouthguards are necessary against the 49ers.

But then Garoppolo went down early in a huge matchup against one of the best teams in the league – the Miami Dolphins. Garoppolo’s injury forced the 49ers to turn to Brock Purdy, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft as their starting quarterback. Yes, Mr. Irrelevant finding relevancy.

Purdy would not have dressed this year if Lance hadn’t suffered that season-ending injury, and who knows if he would even make the 2023 roster. With Garoppolo out for the rest of this season, the keys to the Rolls-Royce are now in the hands of this rookie.

In his second season as a starter at Iowa State he led the Cyclones to a Fiesta Bowl victory against Oregon. Injured New York Jets rookie running back Breece Hall’s 34 carries had a lot to do with that 34-17 victory, but Purdy was offensive MVP with 156 yards passing, 39 yards rushing, and two total touchdowns.

Yesterday, he jumped in on a moment’s notice, in the first quarter, for the 49ers and led them to a 33-17 victory against one of the best offenses in the NFL. And it’s not like Kyle Shanahan rode the ground game to a win. The 49ers will be lucky to get back Elijah Mitchell who just went back on IR with a knee injury. It’s now all Christian McCafrey who carried the ball 17 times against the Dolphins.

Purdy threw 37 passes, and they were still able to dominate one of the better teams in the league. He threw 37 passes and didn’t start the game. Tua Tagovailoa entered the game as the Dolphins starter, and also with the highest passer rating and QBR in the NFL. He only attempted 33 passes and threw more interceptions than Purdy.

The 49ers are forced to move forward with a grand experiment. They have to take a rookie that — at the start of the season — they never intended to play a meaningful down and rely on him in arguably the most important position in sports.

To help, they are providing him a roster loaded with talent. Players everywhere who can decide a game on one snap. For those who thought that the 49ers were championship caliber last year, when Javon Kinlaw returns to the roster this month, there will be no better supporting cast around a quarterback.

If this cast can propel Purdy to a Super Bowl championship, not only will he be on an NFL roster for many years, but a victory like that will prove that an expensive stud quarterback is not a necessity.

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