It was a real bucket of ice water for a team that was on the way to the Super Bowl, yes, I mean the situation that the San Francisco 49ers face from now on once they have lost Jimmy Garoppolo, their starting quarterback, for the remainder of the season when he suffered a broken left foot during a game against the Miami Dolphins the previous Sunday.
The news changes the whole panorama of many analyzes and forecasts, since for experts from the American Union the 49ers were pointed out as the team to beat in the postseason given the experience of their players in recent years, I mean playing a Super Bowl and an NFC Championship Game in just three years.
This, without a doubt, analysts said, put them ahead of other teams that, despite showing a better record in the season such as Philadelphia, Minnesota, have not recently reached those instances in recent seasons. And no matter how many wins you have in the regular season, it doesn’t compare to the experience of being in those postseason games.
Now, the 49ers, with a record of 8-4 at the moment and with five games to go to finish the season, have the pressure to maintain the leadership of the NFC West division and, although at least on paper the situation seems dire and very complicated, there is that rare spark of fate that shows up from time to time to do some mischief.
THE SPELL OF CINDERELLA
It is true that there does not always have to be a Cinderella on the scene, but the way in which the scenario has been presented for Kyle Shanahan’s team is striking, and that is when not only some, but many of us wonder, could one of those incredible stories that only happen very occasionally in the NFL?
I know, whoever reads this will wonder what I mean? Well, throughout the history of the League there have been many occasions when teams have made a very good progress towards the end of the campaign they lost their starting quarterback and had to face the remaining road with a backup who was more often than not a total stranger, and now isn’t far from the same.
With the above I do not want to insinuate and even less suggest that the same thing could happen, but the cases are there and as anecdotal data we point them out.
In the 1987 campaign, the Washington Redskins had a good season in the hands of their new quarterback Jay Schroeder, whom they had prepared to replace the legendary Joe Theismann; However, in the final stretch of the season Schroeder was injured and was replaced by a cartridge that nobody wanted anymore, Doug Williams. He took control and ended up winning Super Bowl 22 over the favored Denver Broncos led by John Elway.
At the end of the 1991 season, the New York Giants lost their star quarterback, Phil Simms, and he was replaced by a drab player named Jeff Hostetler. Against all odds he led New York to Super Bowl 25 and in a purely team effort, the Giants defeated Jim Kelly’s powerful Buffalo Bills.
For the 2000 season, the St. Louis Rams had all their hopes in a huge quarterback promise named Trent Grenn. Coach Dick Vermeil was sure he was the man to run his explosive offense. Very early in the season, a broken leg kept him out of the competition. Vermeil had no choice but to use an unknown man named Kurt Warner who, in his desire to continue playing, came to participate in the Football Arena and even in the incipient Europa League. The surprise was that Warner commanded one of the most spectacular offenses in history, won Super Bowl 34 with the Rams against the Tennessee Titans and was chosen the MVP of the game.
Two years later, in 2002, the New England Patriots saw their illusions vanish when they dispensed with the services of Drew Bledsoe due to a serious injury very close to the postseason. That moment today is a milestone in history, as a certain Tom Brady appeared, who reached Super Sunday 36 against the St. Louis Rams of Kurt Warner himself and won it dramatically. Brady was designated as the MVP.
It took 16 years for a story similar to the previous ones to repeat itself, and it was in the 2018 season, when Carson Wentz, if the one who is now a team jogger, played at the level of an MVP and had the Philadelphia Eagles with his sights in Super Bowl 52. A few weeks after the circuit ended, Wentz suffered a torn ligament that put him out of action for the rest of the year. In his place came a cold unknown Nick Foles, who had a dream postseason including a huge win over the heavily favored New England Patriots of the invincible Tom Brady. Foles was voted the game’s MVP.
Now we are facing a very peculiar story, Brock Purdy, the rookie who took Jimmy G’s place in San Francisco, has that special seal that fate sometimes places: he was the last player chosen in the 2022 Draft, the last one, it is that is, the player that neither team was interested in throughout seven rounds.
And it is that nobody would have imagined that this last draft pick, coming from Iowa State, would have the fate of a Super Bowl-caliber team under his command, and now Purdy is in that instance.
I know, I know, it sounds very fantastic, but the boy has earned the right when the rule is clear in pointing out that the so-called “Mr. Irrelevant” (as the last player drafted in a Draft each year is called) will be cut during the preseason. He came in as the fourth quarterback on the roster during the preseason behind Trey Lance, Garoppolo and Nate Sudfeld, who was already a veteran on the team.
Purdy won the third quarterback job, and now with injuries to Lance and Garoppolo he’s the starter for the rest of the season and as long as the 49ers go. His advantage is having a great offensive coach in Kyle Shanahan and a good passer teacher in Brian Griese. Purdy showed qualities in the victory against the Dolphins on Sunday, not bad given the scenario against a team with a winning record like Miami that has a very good defense.
Sure, the pressure to keep up with the team will be brutal, but another advantage is the squad that covers it. Only fate and these remaining five weeks will dictate the scope of this 22-year-old whether he will or will not be in the eyes and mouths of the NFL for the foreseeable future.
He is a talented passer and one of the points in his favor was that he completed his four-year college cycle and as a starter at the University, something that counts a lot if one takes into account that currently many college players choose to jump to professionalism. barely three years in college football. Shanahan wouldn’t have drafted him if he hadn’t seen something interesting in him.
In fact, we could go so far as to say that Purdy looked much better than Trey Lance in his start against the Chicago Bears earlier in the season (let’s not forget that Lance only played three years and fewer than 20 games due to the crisis caused by the pandemic). of Covid, and that is already a sign for this “Mr. Irrelevant” to realize that perhaps he is not as irrelevant as the other 31 teams that did not even give him the benefit of the doubt to offer him an opportunity in his field thought preseason training.
A TEMPTATION FOR MANAGEMENT?
PS: One of the interesting options that could come together with the situation of the 49ers is the imminent loss of Baker Mayfield with the Carolina Panthers, since the team has announced that this week it could release him. Mayfield is a highly mobile quarterback, who got to prove his effectiveness with the Cleveland Browns when he led the team to the AFC final a couple of years ago in 2020, although for the 2021 season he saw his ability to play diminish. him due to injuries.
Mayfield could fit perfectly into Shanahan’s scheme because he is an accurate passer on short and medium range passes, in addition to his great mobility. There’s no doubt that the offer, if it comes on the table, will be tempting for the always-aggressive general manager Johnny Lynch, plus the price for Mayfield must be considerably low given that his bonuses are well below what they were when he came to the NFL as the No. 1 overall pick in 2018.
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Mr. Irrelevant, the hope of the 49ers