Brock Purdy shocked the NFL world during the 2022 season by becoming just the fifth rookie quarterback to start a conference championship game after leading the 49ers to the playoffs.
It was a situation of circumstance after two San Francisco starters, Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, went down with injury during the regular season -- but another signal-caller with much more experience than Purdy reportedly wanted to help the team out in its time of need.
NFL Network's Rich Eisen recently revealed all of the league chatter he heard at last week's scouting combine, which included an interesting story about retired quarterback and 17-year NFL veteran Philip Rivers.
“We all know two teams that were quarterback-needy at the end of the season -- starting third-stringers -- and had a chance to go to the playoffs, and maybe make a deep run in the playoffs,” Eisen said Monday (h/t 95.7 The Game). “I’m referring to the Miami Dolphins and, of course, the San Francisco 49ers.
“I heard at the combine that Philip Rivers contacted both of them to come back late last year. Philip Rivers contacted both of them, is what I heard, and that's the way I heard it, to see if they would come and it didn’t happen. Don't know why it didn't happen. But I heard that at the combine, that Philip, once his season was over, was kind of like, 'So the 49ers are going with Mr. Irrelevant?' ”
The 49ers did indeed go with Mr. Irrelevant. Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, came in for Garoppolo in Week 13 and earned a win over the Dolphins, then went on to ride a five-game win streak as starter into the postseason. While San Francisco ultimately fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game after Purdy suffered a torn UCL in his throwing elbow, the young quarterback's success was unprecedented.
It's safe to say Purdy exceeded nearly everyone's expectations during his unbelievable run as the 49ers' starter, so it's understandable that someone like Rivers, likely itching to play quarterback after retiring following his 2020 season with the Indianapolis Colts, would reach out to San Francisco. In his final season, Rivers started all 16 games and went 11-5, leading the Colts to the NFC playoffs as the No. 7 seed before losing in the wild-card round.
It's unclear exactly when Rivers' reported call to the 49ers took place, but what's certain is that the club turned down the eight-time Pro Bowler's offer. They opted to bring in veteran backup Josh Johnson and rolled with Purdy -- two options who were in game shape, as opposed to the 41-year-old who hadn't played in two years.
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As the 49ers Faithful know, San Francisco ended up with zero healthy quarterbacks by the third quarter of the NFC Championship after Purdy went down and Johnson suffered a concussion.
We'll never know how things might have turned out if the 49ers took Rivers up on his offer, but it's safe to say the team made the decision that served them best.