Brock Purdy vs. Tom Brady: The matchup no one wants (but one we get)

Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

42. 49ers -3.5. 48. Fox. Sunday, Dec. 11. 8-4. 4:25 p.m. ET. 6-6

Indeed, Brock Purdy is physically younger than Tom Brady’s NFL career, whom he’ll face when the 49ers host the Buccaneers on Sunday.

In all fairness to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, previously known as “Mr. Irrelevant” after being the final player selected in this year’s NFL Draft, it’s not his fault he’s being thrown into a situation where arguably the most famous pro football player in modern history is going to be his opposite number in a Week 14 home game.

That player, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, is scheduled to visit his boyhood team for only the second time in his career. And while that alone would have been a storyline enough, it would have been that much greater if both teams’ offenses were at full strength and both teams were high up in the NFC playoff picture.

In the latter part, they “sort of” are. The Niners hold the No. 3 seed, while the 6-6 Bucs are still somehow atop the weak NFC South and hold the No. 4 seed as a division leader.

Yet Tampa Bay’s offense is awful this season, ranked 27th in scoring and not doing much to emulate the kind of prolific campaigns Brady has had over the course of his Hall of Fame career.

As for San Francisco? Well, Purdy is there because the 49ers’ starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, isn’t.

Jimmy Garoppolo (not Brock Purdy) vs. Tom Brady would have been must-watch TV

One could and should have argued Sunday’s contest between the Niners and Bucs should have been a primetime game, perhaps on Sunday Night Football or even put off until Monday night.

After all, it wouldn’t just be San Francisco fans clamoring to see Brady, a boyhood 49ers fan, face off against the red and gold while his former understudy, Garoppolo, finally had the chance to test his mettle against him after all those years backing him up with the New England Patriots.

Heck, Pats fans would love to see that, too, their two former signal-callers dueling it out on a national stage.

Still, Fox’s Game of the Week isn’t bad, and Brady is still returning to the Bay Area.

But, with Garoppolo on the mend with a foot injury that’ll keep him out until midway through the playoffs, at the soonest, Sunday’s contest loses a lot of its luster.

And, with Brady’s career winding to a close, fans may never be treated to that anticipated Garoppolo-Brady matchup.

Even if Brady is the clear-cut favorite.

Brock Purdy vs. Tom Brady is a wild first-time start for the 49ers rookie

Purdy, who looked solid enough in relief of Garoppolo in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins, will be making his first-ever NFL start this Sunday.

Regardless of how it goes, he’ll be able to tell all of his friends and family for generations that “it was against the GOAT.”

On the surface, it might seem like a lopsided affair. But that actually might benefit Purdy, the third-string quarterback who wasn’t expected to be anywhere close to starting a crucial game for the Niners.

Going out there with an “I’m just happy to be here” attitude might actually be the trick that works in Purdy’s favor.

So might having some fun with the forthcoming matchup against Brady, which Purdy did by telling NBC Sports’ Peter King about squaring off against the GOAT, “He’s been playing football longer than I’ve been alive.”

Brady’s career in the league is in its 23rd year. Purdy won’t turn 23 years old until later this December.

San Francisco and Tampa Bay, as well as Brady and Purdy, square off against each other on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 4:25 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium.

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