Mr Irrelevant to NFL MVP?

Mr Irrelevant to NFL MVP?
Photo by Sports Illustrated

Quarterback Brock Purdy was selected with the 262nd and last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, a pick that comes with its own nickname: Mr. Irrelevant. After injuries to quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy emerged as the number 1 signal-caller and made his first NFL start on December 11, 2023, a game they won 35-7, and Brock Purdy has not looked back. Purdy became the first 49ers rookie quarterback to start and win a playoff game that year in the wild card, and improved his record as a starter to 7-0 in the NFL.

This Season

When Brock Purdy got the call from San Francisco in 2022, he could not have dreamed that he would be the favorite to win NFL MVP just a year later, but here we are. In the wake of week 15, Purdy leads the charge with odds of -200, and Lamar Jackson is next with odds of +450. Many people have called Purdy's sensational run and MVP rumors into question, trying to decipher wether it is true talent or just having the best offensive weapons in the game, or perhaps a mix of both, so let's take a closer look.


One of the knocks on Purdy is that he is constantly throwing the ball to teammates with no defenders in the same zip code, in other words, he can only complete to wide open receivers. While his tight throw percentage of 10.8% is the third lowest int he NFL, but that must be taken with a grain of salt, as Patrick Mahomes, arguably the best QB in the NFL, has the lowest, and it seems like throwing to open receivers does not display a lack of skill but an abundance of awareness. Additionally, the 49ers average 3.46 yards of separation when Purdy slings the rock, which is 17th in the NFL, showing that his receivers are not more open than others, he is just making correct decisions under pressure.

Another sticking point is that Purdy is undoubtedly in one of if not the best offensive schemes in the NFL behind head coach Kyle Shanahan and surrounded by talent such as Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Trent Williams. SF is definitely a run first offense with McCaffrey, another MVP candidate coming out ofthe backfield which is why Purdy's pass attempts per hame are only 23rd in the NFL. Purdy's pass catchers are all averaging huge yards-after-catch numbers, and while Purdy should not apologize for the situation he is in, he most certainly benefits from it.

The last major criticism is that Purdy has to take better care of the ball in close-game situations. He has the sixth most turnover-worth plays in the NFL at 14, and they often come in the 4th quarter of close games. The most important thing, according to WR Deebo Samuel, is that Purdy always takes accountability from his mistakes and learns from them in the future.


Brock Purdy has demonstrated exceptional efficiency and effectiveness as a quarterback, leading all quarterbacks in several critical metrics. He tops the NFL in Yards Per Attempt (9.9), showcasing his ability to advance the ball efficiently. Additionally, he ranks first in Adjusted Yards Per Attempt, True Passer Rating, and QBR, and second in passing yards, all of which highlight his proficiency in making impactful plays and managing games effectively. His dominance in these statistical categories makes a compelling case for his MVP candidacy​​​​.

Purdy's performance has been integral to his team's success. The 49ers hold the NFC's best record at 11-3, largely due to Purdy's leadership and ability and football awareness. His 29 touchdown passes and impressive passer rating of 119.0 significantly contribute to the 49ers' offensive prowess. As the quarterback of one of the top teams in the league, Purdy's direct impact on winning games and positioning his team favorably for the playoffs is a critical factor in MVP considerations​​​​. Furthermore, the 49ers truly believe in Purdy as their long-term QB1. During the Niners' recent three-game losing streak in which Purdy threw 5 picks and had 1 additional turnover, Shanahan scoffed at the idea of benching the young QB.

Despite being a late draft pick and initially considered an afterthought, Purdy has exceeded all expectations, stepping up in a big way when his team needed him the most. His consistent performance, even amidst the team's challenges and injuries to key players, speaks volumes about his resilience and ability to maintain a high level of play. Purdy's ability to remain composed under pressure and deliver consistently high-quality performances, particularly in crucial games, sets him apart as a strong MVP candidate​​​​.


Overall, Purdy, despite his Mr. Irrelevant tag, seems already installed among the top tier of NFL signal-callers in his first full season, and the effect is evident in the 49ers success. They routes fellow conference contenders Dallas (42-10) and Philadelphia (42-19) in recent weeks, and a win over Baltimore on Christmas day would see them undoubtedly become Superbowl favorites. Another overlooked part of Purdy's package is his economic advantage, his rookie contract is only $930,000 a year, a tiny fraction of other superstar QBs around the league, which gives SF a bigger budget for other skill players. With big names such as Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Tyreek Hill, and Christian McCaffrey behind him, Purdy has more to prove heading into the home stretch of the NFL season, but it seems that the cinderella story might be on the brink of realization.