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Brock Purdy Further Stabilizes the 49ers’ Quarterback Room

The rookie Purdy dominated Tom Brady in his first career start, making the 49ers look even more solid without an elite QB.

It’s hard to call someone Mr. Irrelevant when they outdo Tom Brady in front of most of the country.

That’s exactly what San Francisco 49ers QB Brock Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 draft, did on Sunday in a 35-7 beatdown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Iowa State Cyclone completed 16 of his 21 passes for 185 yards and two passing touchdowns, a rushing TD, no interceptions, and a superb 92.8 QBR that ranked the best of any quarterback in Week 14.

Purdy good for his first career start.

When you have a defense that leads the league in points and yards allowed per game, a rushing offense that’s ninth in the league in yards per game, and a plus-6 turnover margin that ranks fourth in the NFL, you don’t need your QB to reinvent the wheel. You just need him to take care of the ball and trust a strong corps of skill position players led by Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. Purdy did way more than that, becoming the first rookie in the Super Bowl era with at least two TD passes, a TD run, and a passer rating of at least 125 in his first career start.

Purdy also became the first QB to ever defeat Brady in his first career start, earning praise from the GOAT after the game.

“It was surreal just standing there like, man, that’s Tom Brady talking to guys and dapping guys up. For him to have respect for what I did, it was pretty cool. I’m not going to lie,” Purdy said. “Being a little kid, watching that guy kill it throughout all these years in Super Bowls, to be able to give him a high five at the end was pretty cool.”

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At 9-4, San Francisco is in good shape to win the NFC West or clinch a wild card berth. Regardless of whether Purdy or the injured Jimmy Garoppolo will start the Niners’ first postseason game next month, they’ll be a tough out.

And even with Garoppolo’s nearly $14 million cap hit, San Francisco is still only paying a little above average to its quarterbacks when compared to its playoff-bound peers. Jimmy G, Purdy, the injured Trey Lance, journeyman extraordinaire Josh Johnson, and practice squad QB Jacob Eason combine for just $22.7 million against the cap, per Spotrac.

Here’s how that compares to other current playoff teams:

  • The Philadelphia Eagles, well ahead of the game in many respects, combine to pay their QBs just over $5 million between Jalen Hurts, Gardner Minshew, and Ian Book.
  • The Dallas Cowboys pay $20.8 million this year to Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, and Will Grier.
  • The New York Giants pay $11.3 million this year to Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor, and practice squad QB Davis Webb. That number will likely go up next year with Jones hitting free agency.
  • The Washington Commanders pay $32.9 million this year to Taylor Heinicke, Sam Howell, the injured Carson Wentz, and practice squad QB Jake Fromm. Wentz will likely be gone after this season for a relatively minimal cap hit.
  • The Minnesota Vikings pay $33 million to Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens, and practice squad QB David Blough.
  • The Buccaneers pay $15.8 million this year to Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask, and practice squad QB Ryan Griffin.

Moving forward, the Bucs will have a ton of dead cap space, whether Brady comes back or not. Meanwhile the Giants will have a decision to make with Jones and the Cowboys will see Prescott’s cap hit balloon to $49.1 million in 2023. Then there’s the Niners, who have have relative cap stability at QB. Garoppolo will be a free agent, Lance will only have a $9.3 million hit, and Purdy’s will be under $900,000.

In a league where contenders are way easier to construct without a quarterback clogging your cap sheet, the 49ers remain ahead of the curve. It looks like Purdy could play a significant part in that, and there’s no reason to expect otherwise.

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