Offensively, San Francisco has been elite, scoring at least 30 points in each contest, while the 49ers have limited scoring opportunities defensively, leading to one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL.
While the 49ers have a number of elite skill position players that have significantly elevated the ceiling of the offense, they've also seen valuable contributions from quarterback Brock Purdy, who has begun his ascension into the upper echelon of quarterbacks with promising play through the first few weeks of the season.
Is Purdy still a system quarterback?
On a recent segment of ESPN’s Get Up, former NFL quarterback and current analyst Dan Orlovsky shared a hot take, believing that Mac Jones would be playing in a similar capacity to Brock Purdy if he was with the 49ers.
“If Mac Jones was in San Francisco, he would be playing like Brock Purdy,” Orlovsky said. “...No quarterback is going to be successful in New England.”
That faced immediate criticism from fellow host Rex Ryan, who praised Purdy for his 2023 performance, deeming him to be more than a system quarterback.
“Oh my god, no. There’s no chance,” Ryan retorted immediately. “He’d be better than he is, but if you think he’s going to play like Brock Purdy, you haven’t paid attention to Brock Purdy. That is a slap in his face. He’s not just a system quarterback. This guy’s playing like Joe Montana, not Joe Montegna like [Mac Jones] is playing. Stop Dan, stop.”
Orlovsky later clarified that his take was more intended at Jones’s situation, rather than Purdy’s play, but the comparison between the two is still intriguing.
“He’s awesome,” Orlovsky said in a tweet referencing Purdy after the segment. “Playing MVP-level football. Has changed SF offense. This is to say ‘Mac Jones is a much better player than what NE is allowing him to be.’”
This isn’t a shot at Purdy at all. He’s awesome. Playing MVP level football. Has changed SF offense— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) October 9, 2023
This is to say “Mac Jones is a much better player than what NE is allowing him to be” https://t.co/jZ9ZZjWHUh
Last week, head coach Kyle Shanahan disputed all claims about Purdy being a system quarterback with a fiery statement, pointing at haters to watch the tape.
“That’s pretty ridiculous,” Shanahan said on Wednesday. “You’ve just got to watch the tape. He plays at a high level every time he has been out there. And he’s done it in a lot of different situations versus a lot of different defenses, on the road, at home, playoff games, when injured. You can’t do all that stuff, he’s been out there too long. It’s on tape.”
Now, looking at the argument, quarterback Mac Jones hasn't had many favors in New England, where he’s consistently dealt with a subpar group of skill position players, as well as an up-and-down offensive line, limiting the offensive potential of the Patriots.
However, it’s tough to make the comparison, given how Purdy has elevated his play this season with the increased confidence, knowledge of the system, and willingness to play aggressively while being safe with the football.