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Brock Purdy Is Probably Not The Second Coming

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 15: Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers walks off the field after defeating the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on December 15, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Brock Purdy is a system quarterback. There. It's been said, and now 49ers fans can hiss like scalded lobsters over the rhetorical injustice of it all.

Only, unlike the Jalen Hurts v. Micah Parsons timewaster that has taken the small corner of the internet not devoted to Elon Musk's championing of the First Amendment by kicking it in the dangly bits, Purdy's system is the best yet devised:

1. Have the two guys in front of you get hurt and have the guy behind you be Josh Johnson, the free space on the bingo card of American football.

2. Be on the team with the most oppressive defense in the land.

3. Run an offense powered by Christian McCaffrey and a coach who thinks a 55-45 run-to-pass ratio isn't sufficiently risk-averse.

There's your system quarterback right there, and if there is a better system, it would involve:

4. Having gamblers fix all the games on your behalf.

Now while Item Four is foolproof, the first three come close, even at the risk of diminishing Purdy's charm-soaked narrative. In that version, the system he runs looks to the rheumy-eyed romantics like this:

1. Look like you just cut sixth-period trig to hit the one convenience store in town that sells to minors.

2. Get taken last in the draft.

3. Pick up the shards of a team beset by quarterback-eating virii and turn a winning team into a winning team that looks exactly like the winning team that the last guy was running.

The best part of the Purdy story is that he is doing nothing particularly different than Jimmy Garoppolo was doing, but because he isn't Garoppolo he seems better than Garoppolo and should therefore replace Garoppolo in 2023, whom the fan base has only grudgingly tolerated even though in two of his last three seasons ended with at least a conference title game. One must separate the hard numbers from our "isn't this the cutest thing you've ever seen?" instincts to truly get the Purdy phenomenette. 

Purdy has already created through no fault of his own ridiculous comparisons to Joe Montana (because they played for the same team) and Tom Brady (because he was drafted one round later than Brady), thus setting an artificial bar that ought to embarrass both him and the people doing the comparing. People who barely knew of his existence outside the Iowa State diaspora, which runs from Ames all the way to Ankeny, have been raving about his presence and confidence without having a single idea about either. In reality, Purdy is unlike most drafted quarterbacks in that he has been granted an excellent team with a monstrous defense and an ultra-safe offense, and to his credit has made almost no errors within it. One suspects that Johnson could achieve the same results given the talent around him and philosophy of the team—namely that you don't need a dominant quarterback if you have a dominant everything else.

But nobody wants to hear that. They want the newest quarterback on the showroom floor, and the weirder the résumé the better. Purdy has ennobled Misters Irrelevant in ways that Ryan Succop has not, even though Succop, the Tampa Bay kicker and a 14-year veteran, is by far the most successful Mister Irrelevant ever. Purdy is creating Mister Irrelevant firsts every week, and as long as can avoid getting his foot chewed off by a wolf, he can go into the postseason as the least irrelevant Mister Irrelevant ever. As long as he remembers why all this frantic narrative construction is possible, he'll stay charming and cute and cheek-pinchable. Josh Johnson's story is better because if nothing else it's a lot longer, but Purdy is the one whom the galactic pixies have chosen to kiss on the lips. And one should never scoff at great luck. It's all in what you do with it.

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