“With the 262nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Brock Purdy, a quarterback from Iowa State.”
The selection was announced by Melanie Salata-Fitch, the father of the man who created the term, ‘Mr. Irrelevant’. It is the name given to the very last player drafted each season, a tradition that started in 1976 when wide receiver Kelvin Kirk was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Purdy, 2022’s Mr. Irrelevant, was never supposed to take to an American football field in his first season – but luckily for the 49ers, that’s exactly what he did.
Born in December 1999 in Queen Creek, Arizona, Purdy played football at Perry High School in Arizona. In 2018, Purdy committed to play football at Iowa State University and suit up for the Cyclones, but not before being named the Gatorade Football Player of the Year for Arizona after throwing for 4,410 yards and 57 touchdowns that season.
In circumstances that sound incredibly familiar to San Francisco fans, Purdy was the third-string quarterback in his first season at Iowa State, but after the two signal-callers ahead of him suffered a combination of injury and poor form, he was given his chance against Oklahoma State University in the fifth game of the season – and he remained the starter for the rest of the year.
In his four total seasons as an Iowa State Cyclone, Purdy would rewrite the school’s record books. He finished his career at the University with 12,170 passing yards, 81 touchdown passes and 993 completed passes – which are all Cyclones records – to go alongside his 30 total wins.
But despite his status as a record breaker, Purdy wasn’t a highly touted prospect as he prepared to enter the 2022 NFL Draft, causing him to fall all the way to the 49ers who were in possession of the final selection.
As quarterbacks Trey Lance, the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Jimmy Garoppolo, who had only recently led San Francisco to a Super Bowl LIV appearance, still featured on the 49ers’ roster, Purdy started his NFL career just as he began his college career – as third choice.
When Lance was ruled out for the rest of the season after injuring his ankle in Week 2, Purdy became the 49ers’ backup quarterback while Garoppolo was promoted to starter. Purdy threw his first NFL pass in the team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7, finishing the game with four completions for 66 yards and one interception.
Then, in the 49ers’ Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins, Garoppolo went down with a foot injury, forcing Purdy to enter the game. The quarterback who wears the number 13 jersey to honour the great Dan Marino, finished with 210 passing yards, two touchdowns (including the first-ever thrown by a Mr. Irrelevant) and one interception, as San Francisco took the win.
With both of the quarterbacks listed ahead of him out for the remainder of the year, Purdy was named the starter and he promptly made NFL history. Purdy became the first-ever quarterback to defeat Tom Brady on their NFL debut after San Francisco ran out 35-7 winners against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – while his family, clearly emotional, watched on.
"𝗠𝗿. 𝗜𝗿𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗮𝗻𝘁" 𝘃𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗢𝗔𝗧@brockpurdy13, the last pick in the 2022 @NFL Draft, became the first quarterback to beat Tom Brady on debut after the @49ers defeated Tampa Bay on Sunday#Decyfr #UnlockFandom #NFL #FTTB pic.twitter.com/1wgeZWum9v
— Decyfr Sport (@DecyfrSport) December 13, 2022
Brock Purdy’s stats to end the year were impressive – passing for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions – and the 49ers didn’t lose a single regular season game with him as their starting quarterback. In the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, Purdy treated fans to a career day, scoring four total touchdowns and passing for 332 yards, in the 49ers’ 41-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks, where he also became the first 49ers rookie quarterback to win a playoff game.
San Francisco defeated the Dallas Cowboys the following week to advance to the NFC Championship Game, but injuries impacted a 49ers quarterback yet again.
Purdy injured his right elbow against the Philadelphia Eagles, rendering him unable to throw the ball. And after his backup, Josh Johnson, suffered a concussion, Purdy returned to action, but only to hand the ball off to San Francisco’s running backs, as the 49ers’ season faded to an end.
Finishing third in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, Purdy enters the 2023 season as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback, and Mr. Irrelevant has earned a new nickname.
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