Does anyone even know what type of quarterback Brock Purdy is? Is he the new Joe Flacco? Is he Big Ben redux? Tom Brady 2.0? He’s part-Kirk Cousins, but activates Russell Wilson when he scrambles out of the pocket. All these guys reached Super Bowls by their second season and they maintained those lofty standards. Maybe he’s on the Wilson arc. They were both drafted as seniors after the third round.

But Mark Sanchez almost joined this exclusive club, too, so it immediately loses some of its luster. I had this whole Greek lit lede on Purdy as Odysseus telling a cyclops his name was nobody before jabbing his eye out. We’re the cyclops who lacks the senses to view this Mr. Nobody as anything more than a product of the Shanahan system. But Purdy hasn’t done enough to develop a mythology – yet. He didn’t attend Michigan or Miami or USC and he’s only 6-1. Winning nine games as a junior at Iowa State doesn’t inspire the same inspiration as Colin Kaepernick’s legendary exploits as a 6-5 unicorn at Nevada.

Railing all the digital podcast denizens of CamNewtonstan for distracting us with some nonsense about game changers vs game managers feels like the correct tone. It’s been nearly two months since Newton’s comments about Purdy and a slew of fringe top-ten quarterbacks put that class of quarterbacks under more scrutiny than ever.

“They’re not winning because of him,” Newton opined about Purdy. “He’s managing the game. And if we were to put that in its own right as game managers: Brock Purdy, Tua Tagovailoa. Jared Goff. And really, Dak Prescott. These are game managers. They’re not difference makers.”

Newton said it with some bass, but Purdy proves the line isn’t as distinct as he pretends. Some of the best are more dexterous than the average quarterback. They can turn off the daredevil mindset, unlike whiplash-inducing passers who throwback breaking picks that change the game for the worse, can dial it back or add an extra gear when needed. Purdy is still working those levers. He led the league in big-time throw rate (25+ yard completions) and touchdowns per pass attempt, but can alchemize possessions with his legs that compensate for his below-average arm strength. Contrary to public opinion, Purdy’s percentage of passes thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage ranked near the bottom of the league this season.

He’s also not a Nervous Pervis in the postseason like Prescott or Tagovailoa. Not only is their podcast purge coming, but we’ve already given anyone who buys that simplistic narrative too much of our energy. There are too many podcasts. Newton might not make the cut in 2024.

Purdy is more of a Rubix Cube still trying to figure out his own ceiling. Sometimes he’s a contradiction. He occasionally throws right at defenders, and yet he’s turnover-averse most of the time. His throws are never going to gain enough velocity to whistle through the clouds, but he throws dimes more often than not. His misses get magnified, but this is only his second season.

It’s a bit early in his career to start calling him elite or a product of a system. But does it make any more sense to compare him to Tagovailoa or Prescott? What gets forgotten in the Purdy debate is his exponential growth since last season and the leap he took after his partial rookie campaign.

Purdy deserves his due because, whenever he falls short of the lofty standard, there’s been a booby trap set to discredit his precocious accomplishments. By year two, late bloomers like Kirk Cousins wish they were this advanced. A three-dimensional perspective of Purdy is that he’s a prism of Cousins, Russ and Brady. He stepped into the gears of a perpetual motion machine and has improved its efficacy. What more can anyone ask for?

He’s the most important cog in the Shanahan machine and he’s raised the bar higher than a 30-year-old Jimmy Garroppolo or Trey Lance. Purdy’s already played in two NFC Championship Games and advanced to the Super Bowl by his second season. Purdy produced several game-changing plays in the biggest game of his career to date.

We’ve seen Purdy do this before. When the Niners are under fire, he’s a natural coolant. He demonstrated it in a loss to the Cleveland Browns back when the Niners were undefeated. He did it again in the NFC Championship Game against longer odds. Trailing by multiple touchdowns, Purdy relied on guile, some luck and surprising foot speed. Hopefully, we are done being surprised.

He’s usually more clever scrambling outside the pocket than scintillating. His captivating touchdown throw on the run in his playoff debut was a hint of Purdy at his best. But he’s taken it to another level in this playoff run.

However, his supporting cast will always receive an outsized share of the credit. As I said in defense of Purdy after Newton lobbed Mozgov cocktails at Purdy, he’s the Kris Jenner of the Niners’ lineup, managing Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk behind the scenes. Rookie quarterbacks on rookie deals have been the blueprint for quarterbacks in recent years. Purdy is that dude. Put some respect on his name.

There’s no telling what the Super Bowl holds, but no matter what, a large part of the Niners’ fates rests on Purdy’s shoulders.

Follow DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex


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