Super Bowl: 'Mr Irrelevant' Brook Purdy makes mockery of humble NFL origins with San Francisco 49ers

As 'Mr Irrelevant', he had a parade, a prodigious haul of swag and a few massive believers.

As an NFL quarterback in his second season, Brock Purdy started two NFC championship games, and is now playing for a Lombardi Trophy and a little bit more national attention.

"I would say he's doing a pretty good job of getting it," said Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid at Super Bowl LVIII opening night.

It's been quite a rollercoaster to get back to Las Vegas, where Purdy brings a 21-5 record as a starter to the 'Strip' and a Super Bowl LVIII match-up with the Chiefs on Monday (NZ time). The third-youngest QB starter in Super Bowl history, Purdy is embracing everything about his next game and the opportunity to spark another parade.

Brock Purdy in action for San Francisco 49ers.
Brock Purdy in action for San Francisco 49ers. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I got drafted last," he said with a wry smile. "Staying grounded and, more than anything, just staying grateful.

"Not what I didn't do or where I didn't go, but, 'Hey, I get to go play for the 49ers'. I want to be a part of this, I want to be a part of it forever.

"Even though I was overlooked two years ago in the draft, I've got an opportunity to go win a Super Bowl with the 49ers."

When Purdy's NFL journey began down the street at Caesars Palace, the 49ers turned in the card for the 262nd and final pick in the 2022 draft to little fanfare. He was the ninth of nine quarterbacks selected.

San Francisco hardly kicked the door down to reel in Purdy. Niners general manager John Lynch had many chances to select him sooner, with five picks on the third and final day of the draft (No.134, 172, 187, 220 and 221) before the draftcapper was announced.

Mr Irrelevant no more, Purdy stood out to coach Kyle Shanahan very early in his rookie training camp. That's not revisionist history.

"We had a fourth-round grade on him," said Shanahan. "You always go through and predict where guys are going to get drafted.

"We had a lot of holes at the time. Quarterback wasn't really one of them.

"We knew his measurables and stuff were smaller [than the prototype quarterback]. The first day of rookie minicamp, he walks out and I told our coaches, 'OK, he's going to be fine'.

"We called him 'Baby Bosa'. He had these shortie shorts on and big, thick legs, kind of like [San Francisco edge rusher Nick] Bosa."

Team owner Jed York has confessed Shanahan told him in August 2022 he was pretty sure the "third-string quarterback is our best quarterback", which turned the stomach of the chief executive, who invested massive draft capital and salary for the 49ers to acquire the No.3 pick in 2021 and select Trey Lance.

Rival quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Patrick Mahomes square off at Las Vegas.
Rival quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Patrick Mahomes square off at Las Vegas. Photo credit: Getty Images

San Francisco traded three first-round picks to go up from No.12 to No.3 to select Lance, a relative neophyte out of North Dakota State. Shanahan says, with the benefit of hindsight, it was "definitely a mistake".

After two seasons and four total starts, Lance was traded to Dallas Cowboys in August, after the 49ers were comfortable that Purdy's surgically repaired right elbow was fully healthy.

Two years later, Shanahan isn't just willing to put Purdy among the best quarterbacks he's ever coached.

"Better, he's better," said Shanahan.

The numbers prove his point. Among quarterbacks with at least 20 starts (regular season and postseason combined) the past two seasons, Purdy leads the NFL with an 0.808 winning percentage, 9.2 yards per attempt, a 3.36-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (47-14) and a 111.2 passer rating.


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