Brock Purdy came through in a major way when the San Francisco 49ers were in dire need at their signal-caller spot.
The 23-year-old took charge in the regular season and the 49ers rode the Purdy train until the wheels fell apart when he suffered a UCL tear in the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But 49ers general manager John Lynch commended Purdy’s heroic efforts in keeping San Francisco’s season intact, even going as far as to bring the starting quarterback role into question ahead of next season.
“With the way he’s played, Brock’s probably the leader in the clubhouse for that (if he’s healthy),” Lynch said Monday, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic.
Lynch added: “It’s certainly a competition.”
It took a series of abrupt circumstances for Purdy to break onto the scene during his rookie year. First, the 49ers lost go-to quarterback Trey Lance in Week 2 with a season-ending ankle injury against the Seattle Seahawks. Then, with the door open for ex-second fiddle Jimmy Garoppolo, he too went down for the year after suffering a broken foot in a Week 13 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
Purdy, with four years of collegiate experience at Iowa State, played the part of a multi-year veteran, leading the 49ers to victories in eight of nine regular-season appearances. He also carried that momentum in the playoffs with wins in the wild-card and divisional rounds.
But with Garoppolo now a member of the Oakland Raiders, the 49ers have in place a head-to-head race for the starting job between Purdy and Lance. There’s an obvious recency bias leaning in Purdy’s favor, while Lance has the slight upper hand with one year of experience.
For now, the 49ers will await the return of Purdy, whose timetable is currently unknown.