Brock Purdy is the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII.
In other words, the 24-year-old is a pretty relevant guy these days.
So is Purdy ready to ditch the nickname he shares with every other guy who has the dubious distinction of being the very last player selected in the NFL draft in a given year?
“Do I think it’s time to pick a new nickname?” Purdy said in response to a reporter’s question Monday during Super Bowl opening night at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. “I’m OK with Mr. Irrelevant. It’s all good.”
Purdy played four years at Iowa State, where he passed for 12,170 yards and 81 touchdowns — both school records — with only 33 passes intercepted, which isn’t even in the top five for most-ever at the school. Yet, he was still available in the seventh round of the 2022 draft, and the 49ers took him with the 262nd and final pick.
In two seasons, Purdy has played in 25 regular season games and is 17-4 as a starter. He has completed 69% of his passes for 5,654 yards with 44 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He’s also 4-1 in the playoffs, completing 63% of his passes for 1,088 yards with five touchdowns and one interception.
By comparison …
Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Joe Montana was 2-6 as a starter in his first two seasons, completing 64% of his passes for 1,891 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. But he was 13-3 as the full-time starter in his third season (1981), completing 64% of his passes for 3,565 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In the playoffs that year, he went 3-0 while completing 64% of his passes for 747 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions and winning the first of four Super Bowls with the 49ers.
The 49ers’ other Hall of Fame quarterback, Steve Young, spent his first two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, compiling a 3-16 record while completing 53% of his passes for 3,217 yards with 11 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Young was traded to San Francisco before his third season (1987) and went 2-1 as Montana’s backup, completing 54% of his passes for 570 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. He didn’t become the 49ers’ full-time starter until 1992 but ended up winning two league MVP awards and led the team to a Super Bowl victory following the 1994 season.
In many ways Purdy seems to be ahead of the pace set by those two legendary 49ers.
And, of course, he’s well ahead of the eight quarterbacks selected before him in the 2022 draft.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Kenny Pickett was the only first-round pick that year. He’s 14-10 as a starter but was benched in favor of No. 3 quarterback Mason Rudolph in the team’s wild-card playoff game this year.
Desmond Ridder (third round, Atlanta Falcons) is 8-9 as a starter and was also benched at times this season; Malik Willis (third round, Tennessee Titans) is 1-2 as a starter, all in 2022; Matt Corral (third round, Carolina Panthers) was injured his rookie season and didn’t appear on any team’s roster last year; Bailey Zappe (fourth round, New England Patriots) is 4-4 as a starter; Sam Howell (fifth round, Washington Commanders) is 5-13 as a starter.
Chris Oladokun (seventh round, Pittsburgh) is the only member of that quarterback class to have a Super Bowl ring. After being cut by the Steelers before the start of his rookie season, Oladokun spent the season on the practice squad of the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. He could win a second ring in the same role Sunday, if Purdy doesn’t claim his first one.
Skylar Thompson (seventh round, Miami Dolphins) is the only quarterback from that class, besides Purdy, to start in a playoff game. He got the nod in place of injured starter Tua Tagovailoa in the Dolphins’ 34-31 wild-card loss to the Buffalo Bills during the 2022 season. He is 1-1 as a starter in the regular season.
Despite having enjoyed far more success at this point than the eight quarterbacks selected ahead of him, Purdy said Monday that’s not something he considers to be, uh, relevant.
“Honestly, I’m not that kind of guy,” Purdy said. “I know a couple of the guys that got drafted before me, but I’ve never held a grudge for it or anything. I’m a believer that God has a plan for everybody, and I fell last for a reason. I haven’t held any grudges against other teams. It all happened how it needed to, and I’m blessed to be a part of the 49ers.”