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The case for Brock Purdy as the NFL’s MVP

Purdy is the betting favorite to win the MVP as of Monday morning.

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San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

There aren’t many overreactions when talking about a 49ers team that has put up 42 points against two of the best teams in the NFC. What made Sunday’s victory impressive was the Niners didn’t get off to their usual fast start.

Let’s elaborate on the quarterback and his case for being the Most Valuable Player in the NFL.

Building Brock’s case

The argument against Brock Purdy’s MVP case is that he has a supporting cast that does the work for him, or that he doesn’t throw the ball as much as other MVP candidates.

Purdy leagues the NFL in yards per attempt along with completion percentage, so you can’t use the “he dinks and dunks his way down the field” logic.

Of the ten quarterbacks who have thrown at least 20 touchdowns, Purdy has the second-fewest interceptions. Purdy also leads the NFL in passer rating, throws that result in a first down, and is tied for the most passes of 40+ yards.

Purdy is the betting favorite to win the MVP as of Monday morning. He jumped Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

The jump from “can this guy be a starter” to “why isn’t he in the MVP conversation” has been quite the ride.

The Athletic’s Mike Sando provided some excellent insight on another popular argument against Purdy: Yards after catch.

You’ll remember Deebo Samuel catching short passes and outracing everybody. Purdy gets credit for those yards. But he’s not the only quarterback to benefit from YAC. On the season, 48.5 percent of Purdy’s passing yards have happened after the catch. According to Sando, that’s right on par with the past ten MVP quarterbacks, and the league average is 47 percent. Patrick Mahomes was at 54 percent last year.

If you cycle through the recent MVP winners, and I forget who tweeted this, so I could give them credit, but the leader in EPA has been the winner each year. Purdy leads the NFL in EPA per play at .38. Dak Prescott, is in second play at .26. The gap is wide.

Purdy is also tops in the NFL in success rate at 57 percent, which is four percentage points ahead of Josh Allen. So not only is he generating big plays, but Purdy is keeping the 49ers offense on and ahead of schedule.

Week 13’s score against the Eagles result will overshadow the process. When the 49ers needed Purdy to make a play on the most critical downs, he did. The first two drives of the game, Kyle Shanahan was feeling out the Eagles defense. Then, once he got the look he wanted, the dam broke.

But don’t lose sight of what Purdy did on third downs:

3rd & 3: 3-yard pass to George Kittle for a first down
3rd & 1: 13-yard pass to Deebo Samuel for a first down
3rd & goal from the 2: 2-yard pass to Brandon Aiyuk for a TD
3rd & 5: 18-yard pass to Jauan Jennings for a first down
3rd & 3: 33-yard pass to Christian McCaffrey for a first down
3rd & 7, after the Eagles just scored to make it 21-13: 10-yard pass to Brandon Aiyuk for a first down
3rd & 9: 8-yard pass to Jennings (McCaffrey would convert on 4th & 1 on the next play)
3rd & 5: Purdy 18-yard touchdown pass to Jennings

After the first two drives, Purdy helped the offense convert seven of the next eight third downs on the road against the best team in the NFC.

It’s on the 49ers to continue their winning ways, that way Purdy remains in the top-3. And whether we want to admit it or not, this is a bit of a beauty pageant. Brock will need to remain in striking distance of Prescott as the touchdown passes leader.

He’s currently three behind Dak in touchdown passes. But let’s not fool ourselves, Kyle Shanahan will give Purdy every opportunity to keep pace.

But acting as if you’re not allowed to be an MVP due to a strong supporting cast is silly, and continues to ignore history. Think about the franchise that we’re talking about. Look at who Joe Montana and Steve Young through the ball during their MVP seasons.

The best offensive seasons in the NFL, from “The Greatest Show on Turf,” to the Patriots in ‘07, and even Kyle Shanahan’s Falcons in 2016 were all loaded. Each quarterback on those teams won the MVP.

Purdy may not have the physical traits as those historic quarterbacks, or even some of the perceived top ones today. What he does have is an innate ability to process information in real-time.

There are excellent defensive coordinators in the NFL. They do a fantastic job of showing you one picture pre-snap, and an entirely different one post-snap. We are seeing a 23-year-old who just finally played enough games that were enough to fit a full season under his belt play the position like a 10-year veteran.

To use yesterday as an example once more, Purdy attempted ten throws yesterday against the blitz. He completed all ten of his throws for 213 yards, three touchdowns, and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

In most instances, you give the MVP award to the quarterback on the most high-octane offense, or the team with the best record — with both outcomes being the same on occasion.

For whatever reason, there’s pushback knowing that answer is Brock Purdy. Is it because of his draft status? The talent around him? Shanahan? Likely all of the above. But from basic counting stats to advanced metrics, Purdy is the MVP.

Not to go full college football playoff committee, but the other two players on the podium with Purdy, Hurts and Prescott, were outperformed in head-to-head matchups. Purdy’s yards per attempt were five yards higher than Hurts on Sunday, and his passer rating was 63 points better than Hurts.

Brock nearly tripled Dak’s passer rating when the Cowboys came to Santa Clara. When the stakes are at the highest, Purdy has performed while the other two fell flat on their face.

If narrowing it down to head-to-head is too much, the 49ers offense has played the ninth-most difficult schedule of defense’s, per DVOA. The Eagles are 10th, and the Cowboys are 31st.

If it comes down to these three, the answer is clear who the MVP is.