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How Brock Purdy can make history against Philadelphia

It’s not typical for quarterbacks to play well in their first trip to the playoffs, let alone a rookie quarterback.

Purdy is a part of a small group, becoming just the fifth rookie quarterback to reach the conference championship game. On Sunday in Philadelphia, he will have the opportunity to be the first to reach the Super Bowl.

John Lynch knows all about playing a rookie quarterback with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The current 49ers general manager was a starting safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1999 when Shaun King stepped into the lineup when Trent Dilfer went down with an injury.

King won four of his five regular season starts. In the NFC Divisonal round he sent Tampa Bay to the championship game with a late touchdown throw.

Facing the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams, King completed just 13 of 29 passes. Holding a slim 6-5 lead in the fourth quarter, King threw his second interception of the game. Taking over in Tampa territory, Kurt Warner hit Ricky Proehl from 30 yards out for the game winning score.

The other three rookies to lead their team to the conference championship were Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez.

Ben Roethlisberger went 13-0 in the regular season before throwing three interceptions in a 24-14 loss to New England in the 2005 AFC Championship game.

Joe Flacco threw three interceptions and completed only 13 of 30 pass attempts in a 23-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2009 AFC Championship game.

Mark Sanchez had the best performance of the three, throwing only one interception and completing 17 or 30 passes for 257 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns in a 30-17 loss to Indianapolis in the AFC Championship game the following year.

All four rookies had terrific defenses behind them. Pittsburgh and New York had allowed the fewest points in the league while Tampa Bay and Baltimore finished with the third fewest.

Just like the rookies before him, Brock Purdy has a terrific defense on his side. San Francisco has allowed the fewest points in the league this year.

One thing Purdy does have which the other four did not is an offensive minded head coach.

With Kyle Shanahan calling the shots and a bevy of playmakers to work with, Purdy is the only rookie since at least 1970 to throw for at least 200 yards in back to back playoff games.

Purdy has found himself is tight games. He trailed Seattle at halftime in the Wild Card round. Against Dallas the game was tied when he stepped onto the field for the 49ers first possession of the second half.

With the games tight in the second half Purdy hasn’t faltered, completing 16 of 21 pass attempts for 270 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie also has not turned the ball over.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Purdy’s 59 passing attempts without an interception is by far the most of any rookie in history. The next fewest belongs to Norm Van Brocklin who in 1949 threw 14 passes before being picked off.

Purdy’s ability to protect the ball is extremely valuable for a San Francisco team which thrives when not turning the ball over. Since the start of last season the 49ers are 24-3 when they don’t turn the ball over more than their opponents. They are just 1-9 when they have more turnovers.

If Purdy can continue to play at the same level on Sunday, the 49ers will defeat the Eagles to make history by advancing to the Super Bowl with a rookie quarterback.

Niners Nuggets:

Jimmy Garoppolo, Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell and Trent Williams did not practice on Wednesday. McCaffrey and Mitchell showed up on the injury report following the game against Dallas on Sunday and are expected to play Sunday. Williams was on a vet day, something he has done since the start of the regular season.

Ambry Thomas returned to practice in limited fashion as did Charles Omenihu.

Omenihu suffered an oblique injury against Dallas, then was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence earlier this week. According to Kyle Shanahan the 49ers will let the legal process work its course and Omenihu will play on Sunday if healthy.


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