The San Francisco 49ers had high hopes for their second-year quarterback Trey Lance this season. Drafted #3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lance only started a handful of games at North Dakota State, but showed the kind of mobility and raw potential that makes NFL general managers salivate.

Lance's season has unfortunately come to an end, however, after he broke his ankle in the second quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers have now turned to (Arlington Heights, IL native!) Jimmy Garoppolo, who was their starting quarterback since late-2017. But Garoppolo too has a checkered injury history. The QB behind him will undoubtedly be a familiar name for many Iowans.

The new backup quarterback for the Niners is none other than Brock Purdy, former Iowa State Cyclone QB, who spent his entire collegiate career in cardinal and gold. Purdy was selected with the 256th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, making him "Mr. Irrelevant" (the moniker given to a player picked last in the draft). Suddenly, Purdy is now "Mr. Relevant," and it's not unlikely he'll take a few snaps or even start a game this year.

Brock Purdy with the Iowa State Cyclones. Photo Credit: Douglas P. DeFelice, Getty Images
Brock Purdy with the Iowa State Cyclones. Photo Credit: Douglas P. DeFelice, Getty Images

In lieu of Lance's injury, 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan said they'll bring in a new quarterback, but he'll assume the third string role behind Purdy. That's a mic-drop statement for a rookie quarterback who came this close to going undrafted back in April. Purdy showed some consistency over the three-game preseason, recording a touchdown and an interception throughout August. His best game came against the Minnesota Vikings, where he completed 14 of 23 passes for 128 yards.

His performance was good enough that the 49ers decided to cut league veteran Nate Sudfeld. It also doesn't sound like Purdy is sweating the promotion. He spoke to Matt Barrows of The Athletic after Sunday's game:

I’ve been ready. I’ve studied as if I was the starter for the week. Obviously, my role is different as far as suiting up and being ready to roll in case anything happens, but other than that, my study habits, my prep will all be the same.

With Garoppolo's injuries having piled up over the years, the 49ers have seen a number of different quarterbacks provide relief. Former Iowa Hawkeye C. J. Beathard got significant playing time during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Former Southern Mississippi Golden Eagle Nick Mullens saw even more action during the 2018 and 2020 seasons too. With an accomplished coach like Kyle Shanahan calling plays, Purdy is in a more ideal situation than other QBs around the league.

Time will tell if Purdy will assume playing and/or starting duties. The Iowa State alum sounds motivated and ready, if his number is called anytime soon.

Iowa Born Sports Stars

What do each of these stellar athletes have in common? They all hail from the Hawkeye State.

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