Brock Purdy: Mr. Irrelevant

Brock Purdy throws a pass in a week 18 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Purdy was the first “Mr. Irrelevant” in history to throw a touchdown.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Brock Purdy throws a pass in a week 18 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Purdy was the first “Mr. Irrelevant” in history to throw a touchdown.

Not so irrelevant anymore. Brock Purdy, the National Football League’s (NFL) “Mr. Irrelevant” for 2022, completed the regular season undefeated once he took over as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. 

      The title, ¨Mr. Irrelevant¨, is given every year to the last chosen player of the NFL draft. In the history of the league, the most successful Mr. Irrelevant has been kicker Ryan Succop, who was drafted as the last pick in 2009 and is currently playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Most players drafted as the last pick fail to find any success playing in the NFL because they either don’t make the roster or they lack the talent to be a quality NFL player. 

      Prior to becoming Mr. Irrelevant, Purdy threw 81 touchdowns throughout his four years at Iowa State and won 30 games, breaking the record for games won by an Iowa State quarterback.  However, Purdy’s smaller physique and lack of arm strength caused him to fall during the NFL draft.  During the 2022 season, Purdy proved the doubters wrong, becoming the first Mr. Irrelevant in history to complete a forward pass and throw for a touchdown. 

     When the 49ers used the 262nd overall pick to select Purdy, they had no intention of him being the starting quarterback at any point during the 2022 season. Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were both ahead of Purdy on the starting roster. However, Lance and Garoppolo both suffered season-ending injuries, giving Purdy the opportunity to be the starting quarterback for the 49ers. 

   “He’s a leader on the field and has a strong understanding of the game,” said junior Shriyans Vittal, a 49ers fan. “Knowing him, he will continue to be a great quarterback in the league.”

     Purdy’s first opportunity as a starter came during week 14 against the Buccaneers. Garoppolo suffered a foot injury during week 13 and Purdy seized his opportunity as the starter. Purdy completed 76% of his passes, throwing for 185 yards, two touchdowns and leading the 49ers to a win against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.  

     “For him to step in and play the way he’s playing is impressive. You usually don’t see that in rookies,” 49ers running back, Christian McCaffrey said in a postgame interview following the Buccaneers game.   

     Purdy continued his success, ending the regular season with five wins and zero losses as a starter heading into the 2023 playoffs. Purdy also put himself in the record books, being one of two rookies in the history of football to throw two or more touchdowns in at least six consecutive games. 

   Purdy has led the 49ers to two playoff wins so far in the 2023 playoffs. A 41 to 23 wild card round win against the Seattle Seahawks led Purdy to a highly anticipated matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. 

     Facing immense pressure from the Cowboys defense, Purdy didn’t fold, throwing for 214 yards and leading the 49ers to a win. Unfortunately, Purdy’s incredible run came to an end following a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game. Purdy had to exit the game early due to an elbow injury.

    “He (Purdy) ain’t got nothing to be sad about. He’s the reason we even got to this game.” 49ers linebacker, Fred Warner said following the loss.

     Purdy’s status for the 2023 season is unknown. Whether he is the starting quarterback or not, he certainly turned himself from Mr. Irrelevant into Mr. Relevant around the football world.