- Editor's Note: "Mr. Relevant: Brock Purdy's NFL Story," a 49ers Talk original series, details the QB's incredible journey from the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft to Bay Area superstar through his eyes and those closest to him, his mom and dad.
It’s a play no 49ers player or fan wants to relive, but it’s a play Brock Purdy never will forget – and a message that coach Kyle Shanahan undoubtedly was sad to receive in the biggest game and moment of the 2022 season.
Facing second-and-6 midway through the first quarter of the NFC Championship Game, Purdy took the snap at midfield in Philadelphia and looked for an open receiver. What happened next altered the young 49ers quarterback’s future and ended his team’s Super Bowl LVII dreams.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Bay Area and California sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
“As I’m going back, I see Brandon Aiyuk wide open, and all I can think is, ‘This is going to be a big play,’ ” Purdy told NBC Sports Bay Area in a recent interview. “And all of the sudden, boom. My arm, as I’m coming through, got pulled back [by Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick]. And then I thought, ‘Something’s not right.’
“I felt all of this electricity and fire, pain shooting down my arm. Can’t feel my pinky, my ring finger. I couldn’t feel anything. Almost like I got shot in my arm.”
Purdy tried to stay warm while officials reviewed the play. As much as he wanted to continue throwing the football, though, the pain was too intense. He couldn’t do much more than hand the ball off, and even that didn’t come without pain. So, Purdy had to tell Shanahan the season-altering news.
“I went to the sidelines, talked to Kyle and told him, ‘I don’t know if you can call a pass play here.’ ” Brock said. “He says, ‘Are you talking about a deep play?’ And I told him, ‘I don’t know if I can throw.’ ”
San Francisco 49ers
That might have surprised some, but one man watching the game in Arizona knew that feeling and likely what had happened.
“Soon as I saw that hit, I knew it was probably the elbow,” Shawn Purdy, Brock’s father, told NBC Sports Bay Area. “When I saw him trying to throw, because I had the same injury [in the 1990s as a minor league pitcher], and I know what it feels like when you keep trying to throw.”
Carrie Purdy, Brock’s mom, was worried after her son came out of the game and was replaced by Josh Johnson.
“I’m just like, ‘Lord, how the heck are you bringing us this far, and this is how it’s going to end this year?’ ” she said.
The 49ers’ medical staff tried several methods of support and tape, to help Purdy feel comfortable enough to throw, but even passes 5 to 10 yards were excruciating for him. That range would be tested sooner than Purdy thought, too, when Johnson left the game early in the third quarter with a concussion.
So, Purdy – torn UCL and all – returned to San Francisco’s huddle, facing a 21-7 deficit and not able to test a tough Eagles defense with the deep ball.
“Right after that, they turned to me, because I’m still in my full uniform,” Purdy said. “I throw off the jacket, run back out, and all the guys in the huddle say, ‘Let’s go Brock!’ Deep down, I’m like, I can’t throw.
“We were trying to do to everything we could at that point, trying to get something lucky to happen to go to the Super Bowl.”
Purdy did throw and complete two passes – a 3-yarder to running back Christian McCaffrey and a 1-yarder to tight end George Kittle -- but the 31-7 loss was a sad end for the rookie QB, who had won eight consecutive games and, in two previous playoff wins, completed 37 of 59 throws for 546 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
Eight months later, Purdy has recovered after surgery, and is ready for another shot at the Super Bowl. Given how close Purdy took them last season, the 49ers must like their chances.