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What Can You Say About Brock Purdy?

10:00 AM EST on February 9, 2024

HENDERSON, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 08: Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers speaks to media during San Francisco 49ers media availability ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa on February 08, 2024 in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Chris Unger/Getty Images

Since the last moment of the NFC Championship game 12 days ago, we have produced 90 items on this site, give or take a DUAN, and only a brief portion of one failed our standards for whatever our standards are. We'll get to that momentarily.

The other 89—which covered the gamuts between hungry sea otters and celebrity lobsters, James P. Wisdom and Jonathan Quick, Donna Reed and Jerry Seinfeld's teeth, The Raincoats and John Cage, Truman Capote and a baby white shark—all had one thing in common.

They didn't bring up the most tiresome name in American typing, and for that we hail them all. Whether it was Jalen Brunson or Domantas Sabonis, Alex Meruelo or John Fisher, Jannik Sinner or Alexander Zverev, Jimmy Finkelstein or Ross Levinsohn, the Vancouver Canucks or the Vancouver Canucks, or John Fisher three times, they all avoided the grand landmine of the last fortnight.

No, not Taylor Swift. She owns us all, and she has a passport right through to your retinas, so live with it.

It's the other one: Brock Purdy. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback who is either a lucky fraud or a brilliant erratic, a dismissable system quarterback or a mad improvisor, the next Joe Montana or the next Jimmy Garoppolo. 

In fairness, it isn't his fault. All he did was play well enough to be a valuable member of a Super Bowl team, which is still the whole idea. It's everybody else. He was both overpraised and overmocked, compared to the best and worst quarterbacks of the year and the Super Bowl era, a delightfully easy feature story of the improbable draft choice made good and the overblown neo-Brady.

And it only ramped up once the 49ers survived All-In Danny Campbell and the Detroit Lions and got to Las Vegas. He was the inside-football answer to Swift, and because he casts such a feeble celebrity shadow (the most heinous thing about him is that some under-clever troll on Elon Musk's Clubhouse Of Misanthropy put his photo next to Lee Harvey Oswald's as a 60-years-separated doppelganger), there were only a few ways to discuss him.

But because he is the new item on the menu that Patrick Mahomes used to be, he is the one everyone wanted to pretend to get a piece of these past few weeks, and because he works hard to be two scoops of vanilla in a beige ceramic bowl, he has become the player we are the most sick of because so many people try to explain his place in the universe.

If we must, his place in the universe is simple. He has no legacy yet; he's barely played enough to have a page on footballreference.com. He is a system quarterback because every quarterback is a system quarterback: They all call and run plays designed by others, and all their teammates operate within the same system, unless they're the New York Jets. Being a system quarterback isn't an insult. It's a job requirement.

So is "game manager." Operating within a system means you are managing the team you quarterback within that system. Those who don't manage games end up backups to those who do, and those who can't manage being a backup end up coaches to those who can.

A more telling descriptor, if you cannot avert your eyes from the quarterback, is "game-changer," and there isn't enough evidence to suggest that Purdy is one of those—yet. There may be two dozen individual game-changers in the entire Super Bowl era; we're not sure how many because we didn't bother to count.

But Purdy as a subject became a soul-crushing feature of every talking head and typing hand, and every story, podcast, or video package could turn into a Purdy analysis at the turn of a phrase. They couldn't shut up about him, and so they ruined him. Now he's the reason you have that facial twitch and shout at the FedEx driver.

But not us. We're better than that. Oh, we did Christian Horner and Lewis Hamilton, Klay Thompson and Caitlin Clark, Xavi and Bill Belichick, blue cards and immigration dogwhistles, Randy Moss and the other Randy Moss. But we spared you Brock Purdy analysis, except for one mention in Tuesday's Funbag handled deftly with his usual stylized contempt by Comrade Magary. He's not the one who brought it up, either. It was some yob named John, just stirring up clichéd trouble.

Anyway, we're almost done with the week, and we'll surely soon be referencing Purdy based on his production in the Super Bowl itself. That's all fair comment, a reasonable invocation of his name, and in any event, we did the best we could for as long as we could manage. Everywhere else, you got Brock Purdy up to your eyelids. Here, we gave you parrots who swear and helicopters on Mars. If you don't think that's a superior alternative, then we can't help you, nor do we want to. But you are allowed ask, "Two stories on the Vancouver Canucks?"

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