Brock Purdy will look to crown one of the NFL’s great underdog stories as ‘Mr Irrelevant’ leads the San Francisco 49ers out at Super Bowl LVIII; watch Super Bowl LVIII from Las Vegas live on Sky Sports NFL on Sunday February 11, with build-up from 10pm ahead of kickoff at 11.30pm.
After being drafted last in 2022, Brock Purdy say’s it’s been a ‘crazy’ journey to now be competing in a Super Bowl for the San Francisco 49ers
It’s as if you kitted out Leicester City’s Premier League champions in the uniforms of the 1992 US Men’s Olympic Basketball ‘Dream Team’. Dumbfounding success within an environment tailor-made for riches.
Except, you realise Jamie Vardy is one of the country’s most clinical finishers, you realise Riyad Mahrez is one of the league’s most gifted technicians, you realise N’Golo Kante is the defensive midfielder of which every modern team dreamed, you realise some of this dumbfounding success might not be quite as dumbfounding, after all. Dumbfounding, yet, in some ways, merited. There was just little to help you see it coming.
The NFL did not see Brock Purdy coming. Not even the San Francisco 49ers saw him coming.
He should not be here, not really. The last pick of the NFL Draft? Pulling the strings to the NFL’s best offense? Fulfilling the masterplan of a generational offensive architect? Going head to head with the greatest quarterback of his generation? In the Super Bowl? He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. He is. He might.
The 49ers do not make it this far without Kyle Shanahan’s quarterback-friendly system or their envied entourage of superstar weapons, but nor do they make it this far without Purdy. He is not a superstar, but his ability to accentuate his strengths has turned him into the player Shanahan needed.
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Brock Purdy's 2023 stats
- 303/444 passing (69.4 per cent)
- 4,280 yards
- 9.6 yards per attempt
- 31 touchdowns
- 11 interceptions
- 113.0 passer rating (first in the NFL)
Watch the best plays from San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Brock Purdy from the 2023 season
He is the extraordinary ordinary story of Super Bowl LVIII, the delicately-spoken and rosy-cheeked killer who has cruised through any temptation to bite on the criticism that has sought to downplay one of the league’s great unfolding underdog tales.
Except, you realise Purdy slides and climbs in the pocket with the awareness and feel of a veteran, you realise his polished footwork enables him to thrive in Shanahan’s rhythm and timing passing game, you realise he throws with exceptional anticipation, decisiveness and the detailed level of accuracy that tees up his star playmakers for yards-after-catch production. You realise he has settled into life as a starting NFL quarterback at a quite absurd speed.
The knock on Purdy has been a system in which he is not required or asked to conjure off-script magic or extend plays or regularly defy angles or chop the top off a secondary in the same way his Super Bowl counterpart Patrick Mahomes can and does. Of course, there have been wobbles in the shape of near-costly interceptions against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs and his rocky day in defeat to the Baltimore Ravens earlier this season. But is that not the point of this footballing story? The pure pocket passer winning in an era that has distanced itself from pure pocket passers, one victory away from history and untold docuseries clamour as the Mr Irrelevant flag-bearer that is often first to admit he does not do, or try to do, what the league’s most dominant quarterbacks can do.
Purdy is Purdy. The 262nd and final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft who drops back in play-action, throws with surgical placement and leads San Francisco as efficiently and effectively as any 49ers quarterback since Steve Young, without the bells and whistles of a Mahomes, a Lamar Jackson, a Josh Allen.
“I like to keep things simple, I play in the NFL and there’s the craziness that comes with that but for me I have a really good supporting cast with my family and friends,” Purdy told Sky Sports NFL. “I understand that I’m human, I’m flawed, I’m not perfect. At the end of the day I want to have a great relationship with my teammates. That’s what I focus on.”
Speaking on Inside The Huddle, Phoebe Schecter says she is hugely impressed with Brock Purdy’s maturity and mindset as the quarterback prepares to lead the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl
Purdy was the plan the 49ers never anticipated. He is also the plan by which the rest of the league has been caught out.
The Niners shipped three first-round picks to move up and select the inexperienced but upside-tantalising Trey Lance at third overall in the 2021 Draft, believing they had grabbed a cocktail of dunk-on-them arm talent and outer-pocket athleticism that would elevate Shanahan’s keep-em-guessing offense to new Championship-winning heights.
Lance struggled with the transition, before getting injured. Jimmy Garoppolo, who could not get the 49ers over the line against the Chiefs at Super Bowl LIV, re-entered the fold briefly before getting injured. In came Purdy, the experienced but physically limited Iowa State quarterback who would attend charity events during which fans could pay to poke fun at him as the last pick of the Draft.
He wonders if some of those same people will be tuning in on Sunday.
“I’m curious about that, it was all fun and games with them roasting me,” he laughed. “Now I’m playing in the Super Bowl, I hope they are watching!”
His first career start came against Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14 of the 2022 season, during which he threw for two touchdown passes while rushing for another as the 49ers won 35-7. How fitting an official introduction it would be for Mr Irrelevant to outduel a half-famous 199th overall pick that had won seven Super Bowl rings.
Purdy now has the opportunity to become just the fifth quarterback to win a Super Bowl in his first year as a full-time starter behind Brady, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana and Kurt Warner, having already become the first Mr Irrelevant quarterback in the draft era to start and win a playoff game. For the record, he now has four playoff wins to his name.
See how the San Francisco 49ers made it to Super Bowl LVIII
“It’s been crazy, just how it’s unfolded over the last two years of playing, being drafted last, becoming starter and now playing in the Super Bowl,” he said.
49ers CEO Jed York this week recalled the moment Shanahan had pulled him aside during training camp last year to admit the team’s third-string quarterback might, in fact, be San Francisco’s best quarterback, regardless of what might have come of Lance. By the end of the campaign, they were ruing his absence as injury to Purdy derailed their NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. How they had missed their non-superstar, average-joe quarterback.
Purdy had been a three-star prospect coming out of high school. He had been overlooked for much of the pre-Draft process in light of what was deemed limited arm strength and athleticism, which scouts feared would amount to easy prey for the league’s most dynamic pass rushers. Come training camp, his mind had merely been on getting a job.
“It was more ‘How can I make this team? How can I make the 49ers and make a good impression?’,” he explained. “If everything happened after that then great, but it was just taking it one day at a time, trying to learn the playbook, compete and see if I could play well in this league. I focused on that and everything else fell into place.”
Samuel’s fellow wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk suggested Purdy was “built” for this stage, a sentiment offensive tackle Trent Williams echoed before pinpointing the quarterback’s “brain” as his strongest attribute at the heart of Shanahan’s shifting and sliding offense.
Edge rusher Nick Bosa had cut a bewildered figure as he quizzed Purdy on how he remains so calm when the stakes are so high after watching him guide the 49ers to victory over the Detroit Lions following a 17-point deficit during the NFC Championship Game. Purdy cracked a smile, burying any desire to explode into elation before admitting he could have played better. That’s Purdy.
“That’s I think the most special thing about Brock,” said Shanahan. “He doesn’t have to change much because that’s really who he is. Brock is as humble of a person as I’ve ever been around. I talk about him having just a strong set foundation on who he is, and, it’s rare. I think people have that coming out of high school. I bet he had it.”
Washington Commanders defensive end Efe Obada believes San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy will be ‘nervous’ during Super Bowl LVIII but says the former ‘Mr Irrelevant’ will be able to handle it
Upon being drafted Purdy received a phone call from former NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose younger brother had played under Purdy’s high school coach. During the call Fitzpatrick assured him it did not matter how he had got to the NFL, but instead what happened when he was there.
Purdy has since wisely shirked any chip-on-shoulder will to defy the doubts, instead embracing what he is and what he can do, rather than get bogged down in his storyline.
“I may not be the stereotypical 6’6″ quarterback who is throwing deep balls and doing all this crazy stuff, but I find ways to win,” he told Sky Sports before the start of the season.
Last Sunday he found a way to win, his defining moments coming not through the air but on the ground as he throttled the game by the scruff of the neck on three scrambles for 52 yards on the way to breaking Detroit hearts. Wait a second? This kid can run?
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Purdy’s rise has been cushioned by the league’s most formidable crack team. Williams might be the NFL’s best blind-side protector, George Kittle might be the league’s best two-way tight end, Kyle Juszczyk is the league’s most influential fullback and a lynchpin to Shanahan’s rushing mastery, Deebo Samuel is the league’s best self-assigned wide-back (the star receiver who runs like a running back), Brandon Aiyuk might be the league’s most unsung lead receiver and Christian McCaffrey is the league’s most transformative dual-purpose running back. Oh, and Jauan Jennings is probably the league’s most vicious blocking receiver, for good measure.
But at the heart of it sits an unflappable Purdy, for whom history beckons should he crown his improbable emergence with Super Bowl success against a Steve Spagnuolo defense that has crushed souls amid a suppose ‘down’ year for the Kansas City Chiefs and a Patrick Mahomes marching towards the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks.
“I’m going to be excited, ready to roll and I’ll be able to take a moment to be like ‘wow, this is a dream’,” said Purdy. “I grew up watching Super Bowls with family and friends and now to say I get to run out and play in one will be pretty sweet.
“It would be an honour to win it. You see the logo of the 49ers and you think of Joe Montana and Steve Young and the Super Bowls they’ve won. To say you’ve been on that list would be crazy.”
Watch Super Bowl LVIII from Las Vegas live on Sky Sports on Sunday February 11, with build-up from 10pm ahead of kickoff at 11.30pm; Neil Reynolds and Phoebe Schecter will be joined in the studio by former NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Christian Wilkins