Very few rookie quarterbacks have been able to lead their new NFL teams deep into the playoffs. The step up from college football to the professional ranks is a steep learning curve. However, some quarterbacks have defied the trend. Brock Purdy is just the fourth quarterback since the turn of the century to lead his team to a conference championship. Who else joins the 49ers quarterback on the list?
Purdy Goes Undefeated in First Seven Starts
Rookie quarterbacks in the NFL face a tough challenge: adapting to the professional level while leading a team and meeting expectations. However, some have succeeded and led their teams to conference championships in their first year.
One of the most recent examples is Brock Purdy, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who is set to play in the NFC Championship game this year. Purdy, the last pick in the NFL Draft (Mr. Irrelevant), took over in mid-season after injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. He has gone on to a 7-0 record with the 49ers and now on to the NFC Championship after defeating the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Purdy in Elite Company
Other notable examples include Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. He led the Pittsburgh Steelers to the AFC Championship game despite being thrust into the starting role after an injury. Roethlisberger, a first-round pick, led the team to a 15-1 regular season record. Big Ben’s Steelers were crushed by the New England Patriots.
Brock Purdy is only the fifth QB to ever make it to an NFL Conference Championship in his rookie season 🔥💪
How does he stack up to these guys in his college and NFL career? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/Nk5II4z0NM
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) January 23, 2023
Joe Flacco also did it in 2008. He led the Baltimore Ravens to the AFC Championship game as a rookie, where they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He took over as the starter early in the season and led the team to an 11-5 record.
Mark Sanchez in 2009, led the New York Jets to the AFC Championship game in his first year. Sanchez, a first-round pick, was another QB that took over as the starter early in the season and led the team to a 9-7 record. The Jets ultimately lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship, but it was a superb run from Sanchez.
These examples show that while rare, rookie quarterbacks can lead their teams to conference championships in their first year. It takes a unique combination of talent, hard work, and leadership. Purdy, despite not being a high draft pick, has proven to be a valuable asset to the 49ers.