Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy suddenly QB2 for 49ers after Trey Lance injury

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SANTA CLARA – Come on, dude. Get up. You’re fine.

49ers backup quarterback Brock Purdy didn’t want to believe what he was seeing. He didn’t want to see Trey Lance struggle to stand up. He didn’t want to see Lance lying prone on the field in obvious pain. But that was the reality, as Lance suffered a season-ending broken right ankle on a rushing attempt in Sunday’s 27-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Mr. Irrelevant is suddenly very relevant in Santa Clara. Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, is now one Jimmy Garoppolo injury away from taking over the offense of a Niners team with Super Bowl aspirations.

Purdy was sick to his stomach once Lance went down but saw him after the game, saying Lance was handling the injury well and talking with his dad and the training staff.

“All of us were just heartbroken when we saw it,” Purdy said. “To see him in the training room on the table, it was just like, ‘Gosh.’ That’s what sucks about this sport, you see your close friends and teammates go down like that. It’s part of the game.”

As he processed the injury to his friend, Lance, Purdy said the change from QB3 to QB2 won’t affect his preparation. It's also worth noting that Garoppolo has only played one full season out of his eight in the NFL and four full seasons with the Niners.

“For me, my mindset hasn’t changed,” Purdy said. “I’ve been ready. I’ve studied as if I was the starter for the week. Obviously, my role is different in terms of suiting up and being ready to go in just in case something happens, but other than that, my study habits, my prep will all be the same.”

As Lance joked with reporters in training camp, Purdy is actually older than him. Purdy, listed at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, was born in December 1999, about six months before Lance. Purdy starred at Iowa State before beating out veteran Nate Sudfeld for the third quarterback job out of training camp with a strong preseason. He profiles as a prototypical pocket passer and he showed great awareness in his exhibition action.

The 49ers liked him enough that they stashed him on the depth chart, so no other team could grab him on waivers. Coach Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers need to sign a third quarterback for depth, but Purdy is suddenly a bigger piece to the 2022 puzzle for the Niners.

“If Jimmy wasn’t available, we were going to go with Brock as our number two,” Shanahan said. “So, we got a lot of confidence in him and obviously we got to get another guy in this building. Whether it’s a third or whether it’s on the practice squad, but we need a third guy.”