The San Francisco 49ers‘ handling of their starting quarterback situation over the last few years has been an interesting saga. While there have been high-priced names and early-round draft selections that have come and gone, it looks as if they have finally gotten it right with Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy.
The road that led Purdy to be the starting quarterback of the 49ers was not short and sweet for either the team or the player, and Purdy’s almost-instant success as the starter in his rookie year has taken the league by surprise.
Purdy was thrust into a starting role in his rookie year following a laundry list of injuries to the guys in front of him, and while many teams and rookies would fold in that situation, Purdy did anything but that as he led the team to a Conference Championship Game.
The rise to this point has been fascinating, and despite some missteps along the way, the 49ers may have stumbled into their quarterback of the future. Let’s take a closer look at why the 49ers drafted Purdy in the first place.
Mr. Irrelevant Is Certainly Relevant Now
For decades now, the last player to be taken in each draft has been affectionately known as “Mr. Irrelevant” to the football world. Purdy was coming out of Iowa State, that is where he found himself as he would be taken with the very last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, No. 262 to the 49ers to put a bow on that year’s draft weekend.
Many teams will draft quarterbacks late in the draft as a way of using it as a lottery ticket. Meaning, that if you can develop the player and he pans out, it’s like hitting the lottery and it didn’t take much capital to do so. It is a very low success rate strategy, but when you do find a winner, it can change your franchise’s future. That’s what it looks like it did for the 49ers in 2022.
Adversity Breeds Opportunity
When Purdy was drafted last offseason, there was no plan in place for him to see action any time soon. However, things in the NFL change quickly.
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The 49ers rolled into the 2022 season having moved on from prior started Jimmy Garoppolo, even if they were unable to actually move him via trade just yet. The team was on to their 2021 first-round draft pick Trey Lance to be the future of the franchise and they were content with Jimmy G being on the bench behind him until the situation resolved itself.
Lance would get injured in the second game of the season, thrusting since-forgotten Jimmy G back into a starting role for the team for the remainder of the season, a situation neither team nor player was really prepared for to be possible.
Jimmy G would man the 49ers’ offense for 11 weeks until a Week 13 injury where he broke his foot against the Miami Dolphins. That opened the door for Purdy to come in, light the world on fire, and never look back.
Making the Most of Your Chance
Purdy would go under center in Week 13 and take the bull by the horns. He threw for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions — winning all five of his starts and leading the 49ers to the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Purdy would get the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles where he would suffer an injury to his elbow and would end the magical run he and the team was on.
Fast forward to the current day, Jimmy G is in Las Vegas with the Raiders, Lance has been traded to the Dallas Cowboys, and Purdy is healthy and officially the future of the 49ers.
A lot has changed for Purdy and the 49ers over the last year, and all of it was possible by taking Mr. Irrelevant in last year’s draft. Sometimes it is better to be lucky rather than good.