How winning Super Bowl LVIII would be San Francisco 49ers QB Brock Purdy’s silver bullet

Brock Purdy
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs prepare to play Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, NFL teams in dire need of quarterback help have already begun their search for “the next Brock Purdy.”

Less than two years ago, those same teams didn’t even want the real Brock Purdy.

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Only the San Francisco 49ers took a chance on the Iowa State quarterback, believing he was valuable enough to expend their seventh-round pick — the last one in the entire 2022 NFL Draft — on him before he escaped and signed with another team as an undrafted free agent.

Since then, Purdy has more than rewarded the 49ers for their investment. He has fashioned one of the most unlikely stories in NFL history, a real-life fairytale so unbelievable that he still has a rather large faction of detractors who discount his abilities as an NFL quarterback.

But now he’s on the cusp of winning the sport’s biggest prize — and silencing his critics for good.

Why Purdy’s made-for-Hollywood story isn’t celebrated and embraced more widely could stem from lingering disbelief related to his draft position. Apparently, there must be something inherently wrong with him or else the 31 other teams wouldn’t have passed him by. Or they would have taken him instead of one of the eight quarterbacks who were drafted ahead of him.

Regardless, the criticisms are nothing new to the second-year quarterback. He’s heard them all, from when he was a college recruit who received a vicious assessment from Alabama coach Nick Saban, to when an NFL scout wrote “NO INTEREST” instead of giving Purdy a draft grade, to nearly two weeks ago when he made several “turnover-worthy throws” when the 49ers fell behind against the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game.

Related: Patrick Mahomes shows ultimate respect to Brock Purdy

Brock Purdy as a game manager

Brock Purdy
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Whereas the critiques used to focus on his apparent lack of physical tools (his height, his arm strength, his running ability, etc.), the most pervasive label that critics attach to Brock Purdy is that he’s a “game manager.”

Why is there a negative connotation associated with “game manager”? Because it discredits the player — Purdy, in this case — and gives credit to Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system. As a “game manager,” Purdy’s success is merely a product of Shanahan’s brilliant play designs, along with having some of the NFL’s most elite athletes at the skill positions.

As the “game manager” critics would say, all Purdy needs to do is play pitch-and-catch with players who are wide-open on every play and have 10-20 yards of real estate to gain positive yards.

With athletes like Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle on his side, there’s no wonder Purdy’s numbers or so good. Anyone else in his position would be just as good. At least that’s what critics like to say.

Some, like former NFL quarterback Cam Newton, like to throw shade at Purdy for being “the 10th-best player on his team.”

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Like Brock Purdy, Joe Montana was the ‘mailman’

Brock Purdy
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Would it be sacrilege to call Joe Montana a “game manager” too? It wouldn’t be if he referred to himself that way, and he did that this week as a guest on “The Pat McAfee Show.”

Montana, a four-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, said Brock Purdy has “figured out” what he figured out early in his Hall of Fame career.

“(The offense) wasn’t about me. It was about getting the ball to the people who knew what to do with it because I’m the mailman. (The football) doesn’t belong to me. I want to get it to somebody who knows how to run, knows how to catch. … Especially late in my career, when you have guys like Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Brent Jones, and Roger Craig, on down the line, all you gotta do is get the ball to them.”

“(Purdy) understands what his position in it is. …  Because he understands it, he’s calm in there. He’s got great presence, and he’s not trying to knock you out with the football. He delivers a great, catchable ball.”

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Hall of Famers believe in Brock Purdy, too

Brock Purdy
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Like Montana, Brock Purdy’s teammates — and anyone else associated with the San Francisco 49ers — have been the quickest to come to his defense.

49ers running back Christian McCaffrey was asked during Opening Night for Super Bowl LVIII which quarterback he’d want in the fourth quarter between Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Purdy — and, of course, he picked his teammate, regardless of the legends mentioned in the same breath.

There could also be some recency bias in McCaffrey’s response in that Purdy has led the 49ers to comeback victories in the fourth quarter in each of the last two games.

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But even those outside the 49ers organization with significant credibility have spoken out in praise of Purdy’s quarterbacking ability. Even a pair of Hall of Famers.

How about Kurt Warner?

“He’s raised his play and done great in the moment. I’m excited for him and all I think it does is elevate our game because so much of our game is about hope. Whether it’s hope for players being able to fulfill their dream, whether it’s hope of teams being able to turn it around or find that guy that can lead him to a Super Bowl.”

How about Peyton Manning?

“All he does is get it done. He’s calm and cool. I’m waiting to see Brock Purdy sweat I haven’t seen him sweat yet. He looks as calm and collected as Joe Montana.”

How about Tom Brady?

“I think Brock’s done a great job with the opportunity. You know, he got it and he’s taken advantage of it. He was a late-round pick, and I know he has a chip on his shoulder. And he wants to go out there and prove everyday he’s the right fit for that team. It’s a really great organization, and I respect Kyle (Shanahan). But Brock has done a hell of a job.”

Brock Purdy will be playing against Patrick Mahomes, the best quarterback of his generation, on Sunday. If Purdy is able to defeat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII, there will be nothing left for anyone to criticize.

A Super Bowl victory, especially if it came with a Super Bowl MVP award, would be the silver bullet that pierces the heart of every tired argument against who Brock Purdy has already proven himself to be.

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