Kittle trumpets ‘special' Purdy as NFL's top OROY candidate


Quarterback Brock Purdy played in only the final six regular-season games. But what a six-game stretch it was.

Purdy’s performances since taking over for injured 49ers starter Jimmy Garoppolo have provided an argument for his inclusion into the conversation for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

“I don’t know how he’s not (a candidate),” 49ers tight end George Kittle said following the team’s 38-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

Kittle went on to produce a case for his teammate as the NFL’s top rookie on offense.

“He hasn’t lost,” Kittle said of Purdy. “He’s put up great numbers. He doesn’t have very many turnovers. He has touchdowns. He has passing yards. And he’s on a hot streak.

“So I think Brock should 100 percent be in that conversation. I know other guys played the entire season. For a rookie quarterback to come in and play the way that he has, that’s pretty special. And I don’t really know anyone else who has played at the level he’s played at.”

San Francisco is a perfect 6-0 with Purdy at quarterback, including the final five games of the regular season with the rookie starting under center.

In the 49ers' first 11 games, they averaged just 22.6 points per game. After Purdy became the team's quarterback, the 49ers' scoring averaged jumped to 33.5.

Purdy's tenure as the 49ers' top quarterback began when he entered the Week 13 game with 9:30 remaining in first quarter and the 49ers trailing the Miami Dolphins 7-3.

Purdy threw two touchdown passes en route to a 33-17 victory over the playoff-bound and blitz-happy Dolphins on Dec. 4, and the 49ers have feel secure at quarterback ever since.

“Whenever Brock came in against the Dolphins and he just took cover zero to the face and delivered, you kind of knew you had a guy,” Kittle said. “That’s a very difficult thing to do as a rookie quarterback.”

Purdy became the first quarterback since 1950 to win his first five starts and throw at least two touchdown passes in each game. He became the third player in NFL history to throw at least two touchdown passes in each of his first five career starts. Dan Marino and Billy Volek were the others.

Purdy also is the second rookie in the Super Bowl era to have multiple touchdown passes in six consecutive games, joining the Chargers’ Justin Herbert. He became the first 49ers quarterback since Jeff Garcia in 2001 to have multiple touchdown passes in six consecutive games.

Purdy’s impact goes beyond statistics, Kittle said.

“One thing you love is when a quarterback comes into a huddle and you can sense his confidence,” Kittle said. “It raises the level of play of everybody in the huddle.”

Purdy finished his first regular season completing 114 of 170 pass attempts (67.1 percent) for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 107.3.

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Seattle running back Kenneth Walker III is among the top candidates for offensive rookie of the year. He gained 1,050 yards (4.6 average) and nine touchdowns this season.

Also, New York Jets receiver Garrett Wilson had 83 catches for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns, while New Orleans wide receiver Chris Olave had 72 receptions for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns.

The league will announce the 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year winner during the 12th annual NFL Honors award show Feb. 9, three days before Super Bowl LVII.

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