The run Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers went on last year was unfounded. Purdy, the very last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, was the 49ers’ third option at quarterback after Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were lost to serious injuries.
The vast majority of teams would be dead in the water if they were forced to play their third QB, but San Francisco may have found their future franchise quarterback amidst the adversity. The 49ers have yet to lose a game where Purdy started and finished the game healthy. They lost the NFC Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles when Purdy suffered an UCL injury and even his backup Josh Johnson exited the game. RB Christian McCaffrey was filling in as the emergency quarterback.
The Los Angeles Rams watched Purdy from afar, but this weekend they will see him up close for the very first time. Brock Purdy, meet Aaron Donald. Aaron, meet Brock.
While the Rams managed a surprise upset over the Seattle Seahawks a week ago, most fans around the NFL are skeptical about fully jumping on their bandwagon. This weekend’s matchup against the 49ers poses a litmus test of where the franchise is at in their rebuild.
It would be easy for the 49ers to roll into SoFi Stadium—a venue their fans refer to as Levi’s South—and come out with a resounding win. San Francisco is still among the best of the best in the NFC Conference, and they stifled a talented Pittsburgh Steelers team in Week 1.
But if the Rams put up a fight and make life difficult for their division rival, it may be time to get excited about Los Angeles’ ceiling in 2023.
Purdy is the type of quarterback that will give defenses chances, but that’s also why he’s taking his offense to heights that Garoppolo could not reach. Purdy’s mobility leads to creativity and playmaking that was not present in the previous renditions of this 49ers offense. When the young QB puts the ball in harms way, it’s important that the Rams make him pay for his errors—he’s thrown only four interceptions in 11 games.
Turnovers are the great equalizer in football. They always have been,
If the Rams are going to make this into a competitive game, the ball will have to bounce their way and they cannot afford to let Purdy’s rare mistakes fall harmlessly to the turf. On the other side, Matthew Stafford must play mistake-free football like he did a week ago and keep the LA offense ahead of the chains. Taking sacks against the 49ers’ fearsome pass rush, like Nick Bosa, could put strain on a passing attack that is still without star receiver Cooper Kupp.
It would be easy for this Rams team to rollover against one of the best teams in the NFL in the 49ers. Keeping the game competitive and perhaps even pulling off the upset is the more tougher option. The outcome of this game will tell us exactly who the Rams are and where they are going in 2023.