When the history of the 2022 NFL draft is written at some point down the line, football historians will forever wonder how Brock Purdy slipped all the way to the San Francisco 49ers at pick 262 and earned the moniker that will follow him for the remainder of his career, Mr. Irrelevant.
Asked about this very question on “49ers Talk” by Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area at Super Bowl media week, NFL quarterback-turned-NBA Sports analyst Chris Simms explained what scouts may have missed when evaluating Purdy coming out of Iowa State.
“I saw what Brock Purdy was,” Simms said via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I was shocked maybe he was there that late. He wasn’t in my top five conversation. He was a guy I brought up on the podcast a little bit ago, ‘Hey, here’s a guy down the line that knows how to play the position, can control the ball, throws a catchable ball, can make all the throws even though they’re not wow, and that’s good.”
“But to me, that’s where there was no elite trait to jump on. There’s no [trait where] I go, ‘Oh, wait, there’s just something here we can really build around.’ And again, that’s where he’s the type of quarterback that is a system quarterback to a degree. If he’s got a part of the great system, he could take advantage of more where you give me a ton of answers and tell me how to read the defense and get to the checks on the offensive line of scrimmage there. I’ll get us in the right play all the time. But he’s not going to be like, ‘Hey, it’s third and seven. There’s nobody open. We’re not blocking anybody good. Now I need you to make somebody miss and then set up and throw a laser down the middle of the field like Josh Allen or Trevor Lawrence or Patrick Mahomes.’ That’s not what he’s going to be.”
Widely called a “game manager” by scouts and analysts coming out of college, Simms’ assertion that Purdy is a read-and-react quarterback who gets the ball where it needs to go, even if he isn’t making the sort of “wow” plays that made Allen, Lawrence, and Mahones first round draft picks. Still, in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, where there are more playmakers than there are balls to go around, having a player like Purdy who can read the defense and react in short order proved effective enough to amass an eight game win streak before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC Championship game.
Chris Simms Weighs in on the San Francisco 49ers’ QB Competition
Elsewhere in his interview with “49ers Talk,” Simms was asked about how he expects the 49ers to to handle their quarterback situation moving forward, and if where Purdy and Trey Lance were drafted should have any impact on who starts.
“You can’t get caught up in [where Lance and Purdy were drafted], or you’re going to cause more problems, would be my assessment there,” Simms said. “You got a special football team. You got a guy here who can run the offense and you can win games with and honestly can go to the Super Bowl …”
“If Brock Purdy is better, I’m playing Brock Purdy, period. That’s just how I would view it … [Lance has] got some things to work on. He’s got some raw talent that I see. But I just think it’s still a far way off here before we can start to say, ‘Hey, they could put Trey out there, they can run the offense and go.’ As you saw at the start of last year, it was a little bit of still managing him and situations and not even in the preseason, not on just letting the offense go because we’re worried about what he might do with certain plays.”
While some have criticized the decision to trade up for Lance, with Pro Football Focus calling the decision the biggest mistake the franchise has made over the past five years, having two young quarterbacks duke it out for the starting role really isn’t a horrible prospect, especially if one clearly looks like the guy moving forward as Simms suggested.
Tom Pelissero Echoed Chris Simms’ Sentiments on Brock Purdy
Simms wasn’t the only media member to stop by “49ers Talk” before the draft to talk about why Purdy was drafted so low, as NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero was also asked about why teams passed on the collegiate Cyclone. In his opinion, it had to do with intangibles for better and worse.
“He’s like a lot of the guys that [49ers coach] Kyle Shanahan has found through the years, where he’s not necessarily the biggest guy with the biggest arm, but he can process really fast,” Pelissero said via NBC Sports. “That’s the No. 1 characteristic Kyle looks for in quarterbacks is, ‘Can you process it?’ Because Kyle’s skill is he gets people open.”
In an offense loaded with past and current Pro Bowlers, Purdy’s ability to get the ball where it needs to go helped to produce instant success.
“The answer is, on an offense that’s got Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, and [Brandon Aiyuk] and [George] Kittle, and go down the list, [Purdy] can function at a pretty high level because he can see it,” Pelissero said. “He can process it. He gets the ball where it needs to go.”
Though Purdy lacks Lance’s ability to make plays with his legs, his ability to make quick decisions with the ball in his hands could ultimately define his future with the 49ers and in the NFL.