NFL legend Tony Gonzalez claims 49ers’ QB Brock Purdy’s injury prevented them from advancing to Super Bowl LVII

Several NFL experts and analysts predicted the 49ers to win Super Bowl LVII before succumbing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. Yet San Francisco was practically out of the race after quarterback Brock Purdy suffered a ruptured UCL in the first quarter against Philadelphia, only to have his replacement, Josh Johnson, leave with a concussion shortly after.

While there were many “what-ifs” in the 49ers’ loss to the Eagles without a quarterback, Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez believes one thing is certain.

“I thought, honestly, they would be playing in [the Super Bowl],” Gonzalez told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan at Super Bowl Radio Row last week in Phoenix. “I still think they would have if Purdy didn’t get hurt.”

Purdy was yet to lose as the 49ers’ starter into the NFC championship game, surrounded by offensive talents such as Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk and anchored by the NFL’s top defense.

But they faced their toughest test of the season in Philadelphia, when the Eagles’ powerful pass rush proved crucial when linebacker Haason Reddick tore into Purdy behind the line of scrimmage. The Eagles’ strip sack and following fumble recovery was significant in more ways than one, as Purdy’s throwing arm was rendered useless for the remainder of the game.

“I think [the 49ers] had the most complete roster towards the end of the season. Philly’s roster was incredible as well,” Gonzalez told Chan. “It’s just sad that Purdy didn’t really get a chance to play in that football game. I think the game obviously would have been way, way closer than it was, and I still think San Francisco might have had a chance because their team was just loaded from top to bottom with incredibly talented players.”

Samuel felt the same way, telling Adam Schein of “Mad Dog Sports Radio” that if Purdy had not been injured, the NFC Championship Game would have ended much differently than a 31-7 loss of San Francisco.

“Our defense was doing what they were supposed to, and I feel like if Brock was in at quarterback and how our offense moves, I don’t think it would have been close, if that makes sense,” Samuel told Schein at Radio Row. “It’s not sour grapes at all, it’s just what I see every day. I’m not salty at all, I just speak facts.”

During the 2022 NFL season, the 49ers had several challenges, including starter quarterback Trey Lance fracturing his ankle in Week 2 and backup Jimmy Garoppolo hurting his foot in Week 13.

It was unexpected for Purdy to step into a starting role so quickly, yet San Francisco still possessed a championship-caliber roster despite it all. But now it’s time to consider the “what-ifs” that next season may bring.

Sayma Yeasmin

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I write cause that's the only way I know to sound sane.


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