Connor’s Corner: Brock Purdy (Mr. Irrelevant) 

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Hello, and welcome to the first article of my weekly column, Connor’s Corner, where I will discuss a standout performance in professional sports as well as that player’s journey from high school to the professional level. This week we will be delving into “Mr. Irrelevant,” aka Brock Purdy.  

This season, last week in particular, Mr. Irrelevant has been anything but irrelevant to a San Francisco franchise seeking a date to the big dance — Super Bowl LVII. In his playoff debut, the last pick in this year’s NFL Draft was exceptional with a 60 percent competition rate (18-for-30), airing it out for 332 yards and finding the endzone for three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground en route to a 41-23 49ers victory over the divisional rival Seahawks. This game was a lot closer than the score suggests. At the end of the first half, San Francisco was trailing 17-16. If you aren’t sold on Purdy’s electric performance, last Saturday he became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to score four touchdowns in a playoff game while also becoming the youngest QB to throw three touchdowns in a postseason game. While the 49ers have a long road ahead of them, they looked the part of a championship-caliber team on Saturday. 

Purdy’s performance is very reminiscent of Tom Brady’s remarkable playoff run in his second season with the Patriots. Just as Purdy took the reins in San Francisco after injuries plagued starters Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Brady took over for the injured Drew Bledsoe while also managing a 0-2 start. Brady then helped guide New England to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. The Patriot quarterback’s legendary playoff career started off in what has become known as the “Tuck Rule” game, which allowed Brady and the Patriots to cap off a unforgettable 13-3 fourth-quarter comeback. Brady would go on to defeat the Rams that year for his first of six Super Bowl victories with New England. Similarly, Purdy’s Saturday stat line was eerily reminiscent of 49ers legend Joe Montana. In his second Super Bowl showing, Montana threw for 333 yards, three touchdowns, and ran one in to lead San Francisco to victory against Miami in Super Bowl XIX. Purdy is hoping to join the likes of Brady and Montana by leading his team to a Super Bowl victory — not bad for a player whom many expected to come in only for meaningless end-of-the-season games. 

Even with Purdy’s historical performance and on-the-field successes, those who know him best recall what he did off the field. Purdy’s high school coach, Preston Jones of Perry High School, remarked in an interview with a local Arizona FOX station, “He was known throughout campus for being a great person. I mean we’re talking cafeteria workers, custodians, security guards. They all knew Brock and they all loved Brock because of what he did.” Jones also added that “Being a good person has always been more important to Purdy than being a good football player, and the guy he was off the field was just as impressive as the superstar he was on the field.” This is all the more awe-inspiring considering that Purdy led Perry to two state championship games in his time there, falling short in both. During his senior year, he threw for 4,410 yards and 57 touchdowns while gaining 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Purdy won the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year Award after his 2017 season. He then finished his career at Perry with 8,937 passing yards and 107 touchdowns – all while earning a 3.8 GPA. 

In 2018, Purdy attended Big 12 school Iowa State. As a freshman, he won the starting job and held that position for all four years. Purdy made his debut for the Cyclones off the bench against Oklahoma State with a monster stat line which included 18-23 passing, 318 yards in the air, four passing touchdowns, one interception, 84 rushing yards, and one rushing touchdown. In his debut, he threw for the fourth most touchdowns in Iowa State history, usually an impressive feat for a seasoned pro, let alone a rookie coming off the bench against a solid Division I program. Purdy finished his career with Iowa State reaching 12,170 passing yards, 81 passing touchdowns and 33 interceptions. These stats were good enough to bring the Cyclone to a bowl game every year, going 1-3 in that stretch.  

Typically in the NFL, we see rookie quarterbacks struggle — mightily. Look at the quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones. All of these athletes struggled when they first came into the league; some have had success, while others haven’t had any major advancements in their young careers and face an uncertain future. What is certain, however, is that something special is brewing in the Bay Area. The 49ers got the season off to a lackluster 3-4 start, had an dysfunctional offense, an abominable defense and mediocre quarterback play. That doesn’t even mention the season-ending injuries suffered by Lance and Garoppolo. All of a sudden, the 49ers have been thrown into the fray of winning a Super Bowl with their third-string quarterback who currently owns a perfect 7-0 record in the league. The sky’s the limit for Purdy, as he’s certainly proved himself in the early part of his career. 

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