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Brock Purdy: The NFL’s Best Underdog Story

February 28, 2023
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If you asked any NFL fan who Brock Purdy was before Week 13 of the 2022 season, they’d answer you with furrowed brows, a confused laugh, and a shrug.

The rookie signal caller was the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, and few expected him even to take significant snaps for the San Francisco 49ers. As far as his draft position dictates, many saw the possibility of him becoming a career backup as a personal achievement.

However, fate got in the way and allowed him to play ball. When the Niners ran out of healthy field generals, the fanbase got ready for a disappointing season where they will have to restart from the next season onwards.

Purdy took the opportunity and ran away with it.

What followed was one of the biggest underdog quarterback stories since Tom Brady. He’s causing a great quarterback problem for a franchise that has longed for the right person to help bring the Lombardi trophy to Levi’s Stadium.

If you’re curious about who the potential QB1 of the Niners is, you’ve come to the right place. This OKBET Sports piece will discuss Brock Purdy’s youth and his high school and college stats. We’ll also talk about the events that helped him become one of the most beloved 23-year-olds in the Bay Area.

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Growing Up a Dolphins Fan in Arizona

Brock Purdy grew up in Arizona but grew up as a fan of the Miami Dolphins. According to his father, Shawn, the biggest reason for No. 13 being his number is his love for Dan Marino. Shawn made sure his son loved his team and showed him film of Marino playing to help Brock throw better.

The first thing people would notice about Purdy when he was younger was that he wasn’t the most athletic person on the field, but his drive to win football games was evident. It also helped that he has a sweet throwing arm that allowed him to find his receivers.

While he wasn’t the first quarterback in Perry High School’s football team in his freshman year, he eventually got the starting job in his sophomore year. In his first campaign as a varsity starter, he completed 1194 passing yards, made 8 touchdowns, and committed 11 interceptions.

He improved over the years, with his junior year numbers jumping to 3333 passing yards, 42 passing TDs, and 11 interceptions. His final year of high school football saw him put up incredible numbers. He made 4405 passing yards, converted 57 passing TDs, and only gave up nine picks.

His rushing numbers were also solid. In his senior year, he ran 1017 rushing yards on 137 carries and scored ten rushing TDs. He finished his high school career as Arizona’s Gatorade Player of the Year and The Arizona Republic’s High School Player of the Year.

If you asked Preston Jones, his coach at Perry High, whether any of Purdy’s feats in the NFL were unexpected, he would tell you that he did this all the time for him. He was the team’s backup plan, which says a lot about his quality as a player.

Brock Purdy in Iowa State

Brock Purdy wasn’t the hottest name in the football scouting calendar. Various scouting organizations rated him as a three-star prospect, but he got plenty of scholarship offers.

Alabama was the biggest name out of the schools that wanted to sign Purdy. Other schools that tried to get his signature included Boise State, Cal-Davis, and Illinois. However, he instantly connected with Iowa State coach Matt Campbell and accepted their scholarship offer.

Like his high school career, he didn’t start as the team’s QB1. Like his start with the 49ers, Purdy was the third-string quarterback. While he came off a successful high school career, he wasn’t above starting from the sidelines.

However, it didn’t take long for Purdy to get his chance. And once he got his opportunity, he didn’t let go of it.

He was thrust into the starting lineup after Kyle Kempt was injured and Zeb Noland wasn’t working out under center. He finished his freshman year as the undisputed starter, completing 2250 passing yards, making 16 passing TDs, and throwing seven INTs. He also ran 308 yards for five rushing TDs.

The Iowa State Cyclones enjoyed three more years of dominance from Purdy as he matured under Campbell’s tutelage. His best year came in his sophomore campaign, finishing with 3982 passing yards, 27 passing TDs, and nine picks. His final season saw him have a respectable stat line of 3188 passing yards, 19 passing TDs, and eight INTs.

Purdy credited his stay in Ames, Iowa, for building his character. He said in an interview that Campbell’s hard-nosed way of running a football team instilled in him a determination to stand up and stand out.

Brock Purdy, Mr. Irrelevant

While Purdy was a solid quarterback for the Cyclones, he wasn’t highly touted as a prospect coming into the NFL. The Big 12, the conference Iowa State played in, isn’t getting as much attention as the ACC and SEC. Playing for a less prominent conference probably hurt his stock.

There were plenty of teams that were interested in his services. However, these same teams are unwilling to spend a draft pick on getting him.

For a while, it seemed like Purdy would become an undrafted pickup for a team until the Niners pulled the trigger with the last pick of the draft.

For quite some time, the final picks of the NFL Draft are crowned as Mr. Irrelevant. The title is justified if you consider how there’s very little difference between them and the rest of the undrafted football players. The last players of the draft rarely make any relevant professional careers for themselves.

Purdy was already up against tough odds coming into his rookie season, but he somehow managed. He impressed San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan enough to make him the team’s third-string signal-caller for the season. He would be playing behind Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Purdy’s Time to Shine

It’s likely that not even the man himself thought he would be getting significant snaps for the Niners. Lance is the first-round QB that the team spent a couple of first-round picks to get. Garoppolo may not be in Shanahan’s plans moving forward, but he did lead the team to Super Bowl LIV.

However, his chances increased as the QB room got hit by the injury bug. Trey Lance went down early due to a season-ending ankle injury against the Seattle Seahawks early in the season. Garoppolo took over as QB while Purdy kept on preparing from the sidelines.

His opportunity to play came in when Jimmy G also went down with a season-ending foot injury against Purdy’s childhood team, the Dolphins. Left with no other choice, Shanahan sent the rookie straight into the fire of regular-season football.

The fans didn’t expect much out of the then-22-year-old. He was Mr. Irrelevant. The final pick of the draft. There was no way he would step up and lead the team to a win.

But that’s what he did. He finished the game with 210 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He also led the Niners to a much-needed Week 13 victory.

However, the real test came when they hosted Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Eyes are on him as he makes his first NFL start. Again, people doubted whether Brock Purdy had what it takes to win.

Once more, Brock Purdy showed everyone why he’s the biggest steal of the NFL Draft. He finished with 185 passing yards, two TDs, no picks, and a 134.0 QB rating.

A Bitter End to His Rookie Season

He then finished the season in style. Teams couldn’t figure out how to stop Purdy as his pocket presence and willingness to scramble allowed the San Francisco to run like a well-oiled machine.

He finished the season with 1374 passing yards, 13 TDs, four picks, and a 107.3 QB rating average in nine games and five starts. It was a solid rookie effort for someone who was drafted last in the draft.

The Niners finished the season at the top of the NFC West with a 13-4 record under his play-calling. The incredible run of form continued into the playoffs, where he stomped the Seahawks with 332 passing yards, three passing TDs, 16 rushing yards, and a rushing TD.

He was quiet against the Dallas Cowboys, but his game management was solid enough to crush their NFC East opponents. He finished that game with 214 passing yards on 66% completion. Everyone began talking if he would become the first quarterback drafted as Mr. Irrelevant to lead a team to the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, Brock Purdy’s dream start was cut short by a torn UCL sustained during the team’s NFC Championship loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. The injury is serious enough that the team predicts he’ll be out for six months.

He finished the team’s final game with four pass completions, 23 yards, and a sack.

However, the sour note to the end of his rookie campaign doesn’t take away from his solid achievements this season. Jalen Hurts, the Eagle’s starting QB who also played against him in college, recognized that he will become a problem for the NFC West moving forward.

A Hint of Tom Brady?

Brock Purdy’s incredible rookie season inevitably drew comparisons to Brady’s start to his Hall Of Fame career. And if you look at what Brady did, it’s easy to see why people are quick to make the comp.

Brady was not a highly-rated QB coming out of Michigan. In the sixth round, he was drafted with the 199th pick by the New England Patriots. Six signal-callers were taken before him. He had the same drive and arm strength to thrive in the NFL.

The comparisons became even louder after Purdy took down Brady’s Bucs. Even former players were quick to say how the Niners are Purdy’s team now.

TB12 also recognized the parallels to the start of their careers. While he didn’t say much about Purdy’s performance, the GOAT gave the QB3 of his childhood team the kind of counsel only a person who has won it all can provide.

What’s Next for Brock Purdy?

The sky is the limit for Purdy, if we’re being honest.

Not even the biggest San Francisco hater can dismiss what Purdy did for the team this season. His work ethic, maturity, and skills won the respect of his teammates. He’s in the best situation to have a go for the starting lineup, regardless if it’s for the Niners or another team. He’ll provide great competition for Trey Lance despite his limited sample size.

It’s an exciting time for Brock Purdy, and things are looking up for the baby-faced Mr. Irrelevant.

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