Gold mined: Kyle Shanahan, 49ers struck it rich with QB Brock Purdy

League: NFL

Posted on: 06 Feb, 2024 at 05:34 AM

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS -- 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 playing Sunday for a Lombardi Trophy and a little bit more national attention.

"I would say he's doing a pretty good job of getting it," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday at Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night.

It's been quite a roller coaster to get back to Las Vegas, where Purdy brings a 21-5 record as a starter to the Strip and a Super Bowl LVIII matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The third-youngest QB starter in Super Bowl history, Purdy is embracing everything about his next game and the opportunity to spark another parade.

"I got drafted last," Purdy said Monday 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 (Nos. 134, 172, 187, 220 and 221) before the draft-capper 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," Shanahan said Monday. "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 confessed this week Shanahan told him in August 2022 he was pretty sure the "third-sting quarterback is our best quarterback," which turned the stomach of the CEO who invested massive draft capital and salary for the 49ers to acquire the No. 3 pick in 2021 and select Trey Lance.

San Francisco traded three first-round picks to go up from No. 12 to No. 3 and select Lance, a relative neophyte out of North Dakota State. Shanahan said now with the benefit of hindsight it was "definitely a mistake." After two seasons and four total starts, Lance was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in August after the 49ers were fully 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," Shanahan said.

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 during his starts with an .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.

--By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media