January 29, 2023

Three years ago, before preparing to face off against a favorite powerhouse led by quarterback Jalen Hurts in a rough street environment, Brock Purdy did something similar.

Well, it was actually more of the same thing: On Nov. 9, 2019, Purdy and the unoccupied state of Iowa traveled to ninth-seeded Oklahoma in a deafening night game in front of 83,541, led by Hurts, then a Heisman Trophy contender in Norman, Okla.

The good news for San Francisco 49ers fans wondering how the rookie quarterback will fare against Hurts, now a Pro Bowl pick, and the top-seeded Eagles (15-3) in Sunday’s NFC Championship game in Philadelphia ? He nearly delivered an unlikely knockout in Round 1.

Purdy, a sophomore, almost caught up with the Cyclones by 21 points in the final 19 minutes. He rushed for 337 total yards and six touchdowns in a 42-41 loss that included a 13-yard scoring pass to 3rd place and 24 seconds left. This was followed by an intercepted two-point pass attempt that was ripped from a pass catcher’s grip after Purdy threaded it between two defenders.

“Man, Brock really got us almost all the way back,” said Kyle Kempt, an assistant coach at Iowa State and a former Cyclones QB who was Purdy’s teammate as a freshman. “As much as we wanted to win the game, his ability to just keep us on the ball was remarkable. I’ve seen some incredible pieces from him. Amazing passes. his will. His ability to keep guys going and investing them in a tough, tough environment. Having us with him for his second year said a lot about him.”

Three years after Purdy and Hurts combined for 678 yards and 11 TDs, they will meet at a higher level for bigger stakes.

Sunday marks the latest is-he-ready-for-that-test for Purdy, who has passed every test with flying colors for the last more than seven weeks. The seventh-round pick is one win away from becoming the first rookie to start in a Super Bowl after beating the most optimistic expectations since Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot on Dec. 4.

Purdy has a 7-0 record while accounting for 18 touchdowns, committing just three turnovers and posting a 111.4 passer rating.

Kempt, who was Purdy’s teammate or coach throughout his college career, said he wasn’t surprised after having a front-row seat in each of his 48 starts at Iowa State.

“I’m not because he’s prepared for it,” Kempt said. “The things that come out in the film that he was successful at in the NFL are the same things that he did here. He is accurate. He expands pieces. He’s a great leader.”

However, there is reason to believe that those things will not be enough on Sunday. Purdy is 2-0 down the road, which includes a division title win in deafening Seattle, but Lincoln Financial Field is likely to hit even higher decibels. And beyond the atmosphere, there’s the greater cause of the enemy.

The Eagles appear primed to finally shake the ever-balanced 23-year-old with their fierce front. Philadelphia had 70 sacks, the third most in NFL history, and became the first team to have four players with at least 10 sacks.

And Purdy will line up against the Eagles after Dallas, who ranked third in the NFL in sacks, pushed him to a performance in Sunday’s 19-12 divisional round win that was at least worthy of the high standard he had set , ordinary was. Purdy, who was responsible for at least two touchdowns in his previous seven games, completed 19 of 29 passes for 214 yards, had no TDs, and posted a career-low passer rating (87.4).

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