In case you haven’t been following the program, Brock Purdy is good. Better than good, even. We are far, far removed from the multi-game period where a team gets film on the guy and brings him back to earth. The NFL has had plenty of time to adjust and set Purdy right.
Here’s the thing: 15 games and a full offseason and Purdy just keeps getting better. He’s the real deal at this point. No doubt he’ll have some terrible games, but he isn’t going anywhere.
Whether it’s his draft status, bias, or just plain laziness, there are a number of takes made on Purdy. Some of them were accurate at one time or another, but all are obsolete. Brock Purdy can play and is entering top-10 quarterback territory, possibly top-5. He also should be in the MVP conversation for 2023. Note: I said conversation, not winning the whole thing.
So as far as those lazy takes? The ones where you always get, “Yeah, but.” I compiled a bunch of them to address. I want to point out a lot of comparisons are to other superstar quarterbacks, many at the point of their career Purdy is in. None of this was leveled towards them at that point in their career, so why Purdy? Can’t have it both ways.
It’s also worth noting most of Purdy’s criticisms were fair for five games. Even for his entire starting season. Once he beat the Seahawks in the playoffs, a team that he beat at their house during the regular season, that’s when he started separating himself.
He benefits from Kyle Shanahan’s system, all quarterbacks do
How did C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens turn out? When they got inserted, the 49ers didn’t exactly continue to be contenders. Sure, they kept playing hard and got a win here or there, but they weren’t lighting things up the way Purdy or even Jimmy Garoppolo did. Mullens had one of the best debuts of any quarterback in NFL history. After that single game (against a terrible Las Vegas Raiders team) he was quickly brought back to earth. Yes, the weapons he had are not comparable to Purdy’s, you are allowed that argument.
Beathard showed some promise, but it simply wasn’t working. Purdy, on the other hand, hasn’t lost a single game yet in his career.
If all quarterbacks are good in Shanahan’s system, then all that’s needed to be mentioned is Johnny Manziel, who was terrible in any system. The Cleveland Browns drafted Manziel and then forced Shanahan to play him. This is what led him to leave and be the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons and eventually head coach of the 49ers.
He’s a system quarterback
So were Joe Montana and Tom Brady. Using Montana as an example, he worked the West Coast offense and then was traded to Kansas City...who had Paul Hackett as offensive coordinator. Hackett was once quarterbacks coach for the 49ers under Bill Walsh and made the offense similar to what Montana ran in San Francisco for familiarity.
Look what happens when you put a quarterback into a system that isn’t taking advantage of their strengths. Robert Griffin III wanted to be a pocket passer and look at how that turned out. Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos isn’t exactly working as many hoped. Or what would happen if Peyton Manning wasn’t calling plays at the line of scrimmage and instead running the read option? Brock Purdy is an accurate thrower. If anything, the system that takes advantage of his traits.
Anyone remember Steve Young with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Sure you don’t. That system was horrible, and Steve Young didn’t play well either. What happened when he got a good system? Canton.
Kyle Shanahan develops offensive systems around his quarterbacks (See RGIII and Trey Lance), which is what good offensive coaches do, rather than fit a square peg in a round hole. That said, the offense Shanahan has wanted to run is the one seen with Purdy.
He can’t throw the deep ball
Neither could Peyton Manning in the second half of his career. Is it nice? Yes. How often would this particular offense need it? The 49ers are not airing it out on the regular. If they get into a position where they have to, most defenses will be waiting for it anyway.
Besides, Purdy’s accuracy when going vertical is top-5. How deep do you want him to go?
He lacks arm strength, might be worse after surgery
I’m no doctor, I just play one on a sports blog, but arm looks pretty good to me. Do you still want a “stronger” arm? OK. Last time the 49ers had such a beast was Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick could shoot the ball and even dislocated Randy Moss’ finger. Kap was also erratic and regressed after his Super Bowl appearance.
If that’s important to you, go to town. Point is, a stronger arm doesn’t make a be-all, end-all quarterback. It’s another one of those nice-to-haves. Plus, if Purdy really had a noodle arm, a lot of those balls would be plucked out of the sky.
He’s still got to play a game where there’s adversity, and he comes from behind
The 2022 Las Vegas Raiders game wasn’t enough? 10 points isn’t, say, 21, but it was still impressive. After retaking the lead, the 49ers didn’t exactly run away with the game. Purdy was forced into a shootout where he had to take the 49ers to game winning field goal range not once, but twice, since Robbie Gould missed the initial chip shot game winner.
We don’t know what he will be like in crucial moments in the postseason
He has two playoff wins from his rookie season. It took Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott seven years to get to that number. Winning in the playoffs is a different beast and there’s a major psychological component that goes with it.
Purdy had plenty of time to turtle and call it a day last year and he didn’t. Instead, he played the Seahawks, a team he already embarrassed during the regular season at home to win the division, and then the Cowboys, a team that was pissed about losing to Jimmy Garoppolo the year before. Purdy didn’t submit. In fact, if you watch those games, you were watching him learn at a rapid pace of what not to do.
He’s got weapons, it’s all the pieces around him
Read carefully because this may sound strange: a good quarterback typically has weapons. Tom Brady had one of the best tight ends in history with Rob Gronkowski. Alex Smith was seen as having all sorts of toys in his second year within Jim Harbaugh’s offense, yet we didn’t see him put up numbers like this. In fact, Alex Smith had even better weapons when he went to Kansas City. Who got those weapons after him? Patrick Mahomes. What would Mahomes had been without all those weapons to start his career?
Or look at Colin Kaepernick who had Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis AND Frank Gore. That was its own embarrassment of riches and Kaepernick wasn’t near as efficient with that group as Purdy is with the 49ers group of Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel.
Sure he’s got weapons but getting the ball to them is just as important and that’s not the easiest thing.
During his brief stints in 2021 and 2022 starting, Trey Lance had largely the same supporting cast Purdy did, and what we saw during Lance’s first couple starts was a rookie quarterback doing rookie things with a good team around him. Even with that sensitivity, it had to be seen with positivity and patience—he wasn’t there yet.
Going into the second season with Lance, there was no Christian McCaffrey, but it was largely the same weapons outside of that. Plus Elijah Mitchell is no slouch. So in Year 2 with that supporting cast, Trey Lance couldn’t do what Brock Purdy did in his rookie season.
Yes, his full game was the Chicago monsoon and then a handful of plays against Seattle. Even then, something was...off.
Here’s a good example. In 2008, Aaron Rodgers’ first year starting for the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers made a name for himself in the league, but the team still went 6-10 and missed the playoffs. Two years later? Super Bowl. That team was largely unchanged in that time span. Even Brett Favre, Rodgers’ predecessor, caused shade saying he was surprised it took the Packers that long to win it. That Packers team was loaded and Rodgers was the beneficiary, but he still worked through growing pains despite playing at a high level the moment he stepped onto the field.
His rate of interceptable throws is high
Oh, you mean he throws passes that should have been picked? Matthew Stafford threw a pass in the NFC Championship game a few years back that should have been picked. It wasn’t. Every quarterback throws them.
He has a good defense
He sure does. Such defense that:
A: Allows the team to score sometimes after us donating 10 or so minutes of our lives.
B: a defense that when they have the weekly brain fart big play that Wilks’ and co are getting known for, he just marches down the field right after and scores again. That’s called game closing, not game management.
Every good offense needs a good defense. How many teams have we seen in the NFL that have lights out offense but a defense that is atrocious (again, Green Bay when they played the 49ers in the Harbaugh years).