Brock Purdy: NFL MVP, scrub, or somewhere in between? — 49ers blog

Every football fan has an opinion on Brock Purdy. Some say the 49ers star is the favorite for MVP while others say he’s merely a product of Kyle Shanahan. As always, the truth likely falls somewhere between the two extremes.
Dec 3, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) walks
Dec 3, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) walks / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers struck gold by selecting Brock Purdy with the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Serving as the NFL’s Mr. Irrelevant, Purdy was thrust into the starting gig of a perennial playoff contender. Following injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, the former Iowa State star seized the QB1 mantle and never looked back.

All Brock Purdy Does Is Win

Purdy has gone 14-3 in the regular season as the starter for the Niners. That doesn’t include two postseason victories in 2022, as well. Unfortunately, the magical ride came to a screeching halt in last season’s NFC Championship Game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.

Thanks to a devastating arm injury early in the contest, Purdy was unable to make any throws downfield. He was pulled from the game, leaving San Francisco with virtually no hope against the one-seeded Eagles. The injury was so severe that it impacted Purdy’s ability to work out during the offseason.

But fret not; the Niners not only committed to Purdy this past offseason, they put all their eggs in his basket. By letting Garoppolo walk in free agency and following a trade of Trey Lance to the Dallas Cowboys, the path toward becoming the long-term QB1 in the Bay Area opened up.

Purdy bounced back from his injury in time to take the field for San Francisco in Week 1. The Niners started off hot with a five-game winning streak before dropping three in a row. However, the team is back to its winning ways with its current four-game winning streak, including a dominant 42-19 victory over Philadelphia — a great way to exercise the demons from 2022.

With the most recent victory, which brought his squad to a sparkling 9-3 record, Purdy has catapulted up NFL MVP betting odds. As of this writing, the 23-year-old signal-caller is the front runner, ahead of the likes of Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, and Lamar Jackson.

Who Deserves More Praise? The San Francisco 49ers Roster Or Purdy? Does It Even Matter?

While it’s impossible to ignore how well Purdy has played, it’s difficult to make the leap toward him being deserving of the MVP award. His value is undeniable, and as the No. 2 seed in the NFC, the odds were always going to swing in Purdy’s favor at some point. But is it too reactionary?

Strictly looking at the numbers, his inclusion in the conversation makes sense. Purdy leads all starting quarterbacks in completion percentage (70.2%) and boasts an impressive 23 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Add in his 3,185 passing yards, and that paints an MVP-caliber picture.

Listen, it’s not Brock’s fault that he landed in the most ideal spot for a young signal-caller. He is flanked by the best offensive weaponry in the NFL, plus one of the best head coaches, Kyle Shanahan. The defense is still in the top tier across the league, and how could we forget about the offensive line led by Trent Williams?

All of those factors undoubtedly help Purdy stand out the way he has. But how much weight should the stacked supporting cast be given when debating the merits of the NFL MVP award? It can’t be held entirely against him, but we are lying to ourselves if it’s not a part of the conversation.

Insert anyone into that offense, and they will surely churn out some respectable numbers, at a minimum. Jimmy Garoppolo tricked the Las Vegas Raiders into shelling out north of $72 million in the offseason, due in large part to his success with the Niners. Everyone saw the true “Jimmy G” when he wasn’t afforded the luxury of Shanahan and a stacked roster.

Now, this isn’t a one-for-one comparison of Purdy to Garoppolo. But it is an important factor. Sure, Purdy proved he was a better option, and the play on tape and on the stat sheet proves that. He is unquestionably better than Garoppolo in nearly every category. There’s no debate saying otherwise.

Could The 49ers QB Actually Win NFL MVP?

Let’s be fair to Purdy — nearly every other MVP candidate is surrounded by a premier supporting cast. It comes with the territory. Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, and Lamar Jackson all have an embarrassment of riches at their disposal. Patrick Mahomes, although his cast is a bit weaker on paper, still has the advantage of Andy Reid calling the shots.

Simply put, a quarterback in the NFL, a legitimate contender for MVP, almost always flexes an elite roster and/or coaching staff. So, why does Brock Purdy seemingly catch more flack than the rest? Well, that answer is two-fold.

First and foremost, Purdy isn’t as talented as many of the others in the debate. And that’s okay. Hurts and Jackson have dynamic dual-threat ability. Mahomes and Prescott have grown into elite passers on Sundays. Purdy is good but not necessarily great in any one category — at least not from a physical standpoint.

He lacks the power in his arm to consistently hit deep balls, even if he’s shown flashes in recent weeks in this area. Purdy will never blow anyone away with his athleticism, although he has proven capable of picking up extra yardage when flushed out of the pocket. While all of this is true, it does discredit one thing: His ability to improve.

Let’s look at Prescott, for example. He has a stronger arm than Purdy, but by NFL standards, I wouldn’t call it elite arm talent. In Year 8, the once-fourth-round pick has grown as a passer each season in the league. We must remember that Purdy is merely in Year 2 and his first season as the full-time starter.

Therein lies the rub. Talent alone isn’t enough to win the MVP award; otherwise, it would be Patrick Mahomes and everyone else. To properly give an accurate assessment, the team’s success must play a part. And that is why Purdy has entered the MVP conversation.

There’s a stigma toward quarterbacks when it comes to voters — one could argue that Christian McCaffrey, not Brock Purdy, is the most valuable to the Niners. The same is true with Tyreek Hill and Tua Tagovailoa. A non-QB hasn’t won the award since Adrian Peterson sliced and diced opposing defenses for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012.

It’s Not Brock Purdy’s Fault That He Landed In An Ideal Situation

There are loads of analytical data I could throw at Purdy to lessen his accomplishments as a starter. There are tons of logic-based arguments, including raw counting stats and team records, that I could throw at Purdy to boost his accomplishments as a starter.

In reality, it would be foolish to call Purdy a scrub. He’s proven himself as a steady presence behind center, showcasing enough arm talent and creativity to move the football at will. Plus, the team is a night-and-day difference with him at quarterback — Sam Darnold wouldn’t be playing this well.

On the other side of the coin, it feels too reactionary to place Purdy amongst the elite of the elite at the position — not yet, at least. He’s shown he can win, but this is occurring on the cheapest rookie deal imaginable. Can the roster keep all its pieces and remain competitive if Purdy eats up $30+ million of the salary cap?

We won’t know until that time comes. Until then, Purdy will continue winning football games and putting up gaudy statistics in the process. Will it be enough to land the MVP award? That remains to be seen. But if nothing else, Purdy has entrenched himself as the starter in San Francisco. And he will be earning near the league minimum through 2026.

Say what you will about Brock Purdy, but his contract and stellar play make him the best value in the sport. It might be enough to see him rise to the cream of the crop in the NFL. As for me? I’d like to give this a little more time to breathe. I believe Purdy is good and certainly good enough for the Niners to win a ring with. But is he elite? Only time will tell.