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Sport

From ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ to ‘Mr. Right’: Purdy plots Super Bowl ambush

todayFebruary 7, 2024

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Just under two years ago, Brock Purdy was a little-known college quarterback embarking on an NFL career with few expectations.

Picked by the San Francisco 49ers with the 262nd and final selection of the 2022 Draft, the fresh-faced youngster was crowned that year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” — the disparaging tag bestowed on the player chosen last from the pool of college talent entering the NFL each season.

At least one scouting report on Purdy suggested the quarterback was set to live up to his unflattering new nickname. “Not a very good athlete…limited arm, both in strength and throw repertoire,” the report read.

But fast-forward to 2024 and Purdy is on the brink of history, leading the 49ers into Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, where “Mr. Irrelevant” could complete his remarkable transformation into San Francisco’s “Mr. Right”.

At the start of his rookie season, Purdy was the 49ers’ third choice quarterback, way down the pecking order behind Trey Lance (chosen third in the draft overall a year earlier), and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Yet it soon became clear to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that Purdy was the pick of his signal-callers.

Purdy got his chance later that season when injuries thrust him into the starting role.

A series of composed performances followed, with Purdy leading the 49ers to within one game of the Super Bowl before their playoff run ended in defeat to Philadelphia.

Purdy was injured early in that NFC Championship game but had done enough to convince Shanahan to stick with the youngster, and this season the 24-year-old has repaid that faith.

After leading San Francisco to the No.1 seeding in the regular season, Purdy’s poise and precision under pressure was critical in nerve-shredding playoff victories over Green Bay and Detroit.

While other quarterbacks around the league have stronger arms or flashier skillsets, Purdy’s calling card is clear-eyed, unfussy efficiency.

“Brock understands his role: he’s calm in the pocket. He has a great presence and he’s not trying to knock you out with the football,” was the glowing appraisal from 49ers legend Joe Montana.

Another 49ers great, Steve Young, says NFL teams who ignored Purdy in the draft two years ago, had overlooked one key quality in the quarterback’s make-up.

“Quarterback is really about guile and an innate gift from heaven, to be able to have your heart rate go down when everyone else is in anxiety and pressure,” Young said. “The draft doesn’t understand that.”

The modest, devoutly religious Purdy shrugs off those who even today remain sceptical about his ability.

“I haven’t been the biggest, the fastest or the strongest but I’ve found ways to win,” Purdy said on Tuesday at a 49ers media event.

“That’s using my mind, anticipating things and winning games that way, rather than hurdling somebody, or out-running somebody, or throwing the ball 70 yards.

“I don’t make crazy flashy plays like other guys around the league. But at the end of the day the end goal is about winning, and I feel like I can do that well.”

Purdy says part of his serenity comes from his faith. He often turns to prayer during games to steady himself.

“It’s not ‘God, can we win here?’ or ‘God can we do something amazing?’. It’s more a way of trying to find peace in all the chaos.”

Purdy admits that he had harbored doubts about finding success in the NFL when he initially decided to enter the draft.

“There was a little doubt but my dad told me ‘Dude, just give it your best shot, you never know what will happen,” Purdy said.

“I got drafted last — but I was all in. I always thought ‘If I get drafted and I have an opportunity with a team I’m going to give it my best shot’.

“I studied my butt off, with the playbook, and every rep at camp or practice I wanted to make the most of it, and if I got cut it is what it is. God will have a plan for me.

“And if I make the team, great, let’s keep going. And that’s been the case – I made the team and I’ve kept going from there.”

rcw/sev

AFP

(NAMPA / AFP)

Written by: Staff Writer

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