The 2022 NFL season will go down as one of the most shocking and exhilarating years in San Francisco 49ers history, largely thanks to the emergence of an unlikely hero at quarterback. Brock Purdy, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft dubbed “Mr. Irrelevant,” took the Bay Area by storm with his meteoric rise from third-string afterthought to franchise savior. His poise and playmaking ability rejuvenated a storied franchise and its spirited fanbase.
Purdy’s path from roster longshot to NFC Championship Game starter defied all expectations. Selected 262nd overall out of Iowa State, he was widely considered an expendable camp arm. But Purdy dedicated himself to mastering head coach Kyle Shanahan’s complex offense as a rookie. When injuries waylaid starters Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy stepped into the spotlight seamlessly.
The raw 23-year-old showcased preternatural poise from his first start, a 33-17 win over the Dolphins. In that game, he became the first rookie “Mr. Irrelevant” to throw a touchdown pass. But Purdy was just getting warmed up. Over his first seven starts, he guided the 49ers to seven straight victories — the most ever by a rookie quarterback to open a career.
Purdy displayed uncanny accuracy from the pocket, completing over 67% of his passes. He ranked among the NFL’s top quarterbacks in yards per attempt (8.1) and passer rating (113.9), outplaying far more heralded players. Time after time, Purdy dropped dimes into tight windows or evaded pressure to create explosive plays downfield. The offense hummed under his direction.
“I’ve been around some pretty good ones in my days,” said nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. “But as far as a rookie coming into this league, I ain’t never seen one like him.”
Nowhere was Purdy’s preternatural poise more evident than high-leverage situations. Down 17-3 on the road in the Wild Card round, he engineered the largest road comeback win in NFL playoff history. The next week, in a hostile Lambeau Field, Purdy brought the 49ers back from 10 points down in the 4th quarter, tossing two perfect touchdown strikes to beat the Packers.
In the NFC Championship, Purdy etched his name into franchise lore. After injuring his elbow on the first drive, he courageously gutted out three touchdown drives against the Eagles’ fearsome defense. His late-game heroics — including two TD passes in the final eight minutes — keyed an unfathomable 31-7 demolition in Philadelphia.
“It was inspiring,” said star receiver Deebo Samuel. “We fed off Brock’s toughness. There was no way we were losing after seeing him put it all on the line.”
By the time the team arrived in Arizona for Super Bowl week, “Brockstar” mania had engulfed the fanbase. Purdy’s #13 jersey became a top-seller, flying off shelves at record rates. Some fans made pilgrimages to Phoenix just to cheer on their unlikely folk hero. Others christened him “Big Play Purdy” on social media for his knack for rising to the occasion.
We feel like we’re living a real-life Rudy story,” said Stacy Miller, a diehard fan who scored Super Bowl tickets. “Purdy makes us believe that anything is possible.”
The national media flocked to Purdy, mesmerized by his meteoric rise. He graced the Sports Illustrated cover and made the rounds on talk shows. Fellow players raved about his preternatural command and playmaking instincts.
“He’s the truth — that’s the only way to put it,” said Chiefs’ star Chris Jones. “His toughness and ability to make plays, I got nothing but respect.”
On the sport’s biggest stage, Purdy once again rose to the moment. He stood toe-to-toe with MVP Patrick Mahomes, matching his mighty counterpart pass for pass. Purdy finished with 255 yards on 23 clutch completions, including a touchdown strike to tie the game in the 4th quarter. If not for a special teams gaffe and blocked PAT, the Lombardi Trophy may have been his.
Though the 49ers lost an overtime heartbreaker, Purdy exited as a winner in the minds of fans. In one unforgettable season, the NFL’s “Mr. Irrelevant” became a Bay Area icon. His name forever stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Joe, Steve, and the franchise greats.
“This season was bigger than football,” said Blake Griffin, a diehard fan. “It was about believing anyone with determination can achieve their dreams. Brock embodied that spirit for all of us.”
After defying impossible odds to reach the Super Bowl summit, Purdy’s legend has only just begun. With their new franchise quarterback in place, the future in San Francisco looks brighter than ever. The “Brockstar” gave 49ers fans a season to remember, reigniting passions with his unrelenting poise and resolve.