SANTA CLARA Brock Purdy has been on quite a ride since entering the NFL as the final pick of the 2022 draft.
Purdy worked his way onto the San Francisco 49ers' roster as a rookie, then went on a storybook late-season run when forced into action by injuries only to sustain a serious injury to his throwing elbow in the NFC championship game.
Now after a grueling offseason of rehabilitation and building back his arm strength, Purdy is set to start his second season in the NFL as the starting quarterback for one of the Super Bowl favorites.
"Honestly, there's some moments where I'm able to sort of step back and be thankful for everything and whatnot, but at the same time it's like, man, there's a lot in front of me that I'm trying to handle and prepare for," Purdy said Thursday. "Obviously with this game coming up and then really this whole offseason it's been about my arm, getting it right, getting healthy, so I'm ... not trying to get caught up in too much other stuff. But for me I want to win, I want to play football, and I love the game and that's where I'm at with my life."
Purdy did a good job of winning after stepping into the starting quarterback role for San Francisco after Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo both went down with season-ending injuries.
Purdy led the Niners to a win in relief of Garoppolo in Week 13 against Miami and then five more to end the regular season and two in the playoffs.
Purdy threw for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the regular season and his 108 passer rating in the regular season and playoffs was the highest ever for a rookie with at least 200 passes.
But the magical ride came to a crushing end on San Francisco's first drive of the NFC championship game against Philadelphia when Purdy was hit hard on his right elbow, leading to a torn ligament.
Purdy came back into that game in the second but couldn't throw the ball past the line of scrimmage and then underwent surgery in March.
He began throwing in late May and was cleared to practice at the start of training camp in late July. The Niners eased his load a bit during training camp but he is back to full health to start the season.
"It wasn't just me. I had a lot of help and I'm very thankful for everyone that played a part in that," he said. "It was somewhat of a long six months, but at the same time, it's like, man, it felt like that Eagles game was just yesterday. So here we are getting ready for game one and I'm really excited about it."
When Purdy was forced into the starting role last December, his veteran teammates expressed supreme confidence in him based on his play at practice and the way he carried himself.
Purdy has shown strong leadership qualities even on a team with so many accomplished veterans and was rewarded this week when he was voted as one of the team's six captains.
"It just shows you how guys respect him and how he is a natural-born leader. Guys noticed that," All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams said. "To me, that's a huge notch on his belt to have the respect of your teammates. It's not like he's been the day one starter. It's not like they handed him the keys to the car last year. For him to be able to start where he did last year around this time and to be 12 months later to be a captain of the team and starting quarterback, I think it just says multitudes about him and his love for the game and his ability to lead guys."
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