In a week, we will move from talking about the Super Bowl to jumping fully into the NFL offseason and that will mean plenty of draft talk, mock drafts, picking apart prospects and, of course, debating quarterbacks.
The 49ers’ trip to Super Bowl 2024 provides more evidence that drafting a quarterback is hardly a science.
Brock Purdy was the 262nd pick in 2022, the last player drafted and the ninth quarterback taken.
Now, he’s starting the Super Bowl.
This came after San Francisco traded three first-round picks to draft Trey Lance third overall in 2021 and paid Jimmy Garoppolo more than $20 million a year to be its quarterback.
After going the big-money route and the first-round pick route, the 49ers stumbled upon their quarterback at the end of the seventh round.
Owner Jed York spoke to reporters in California this past week and recounted when 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan first told him that Purdy might be better than expected.
The conversation came about a week into the 2022 training camp when Lance and Garoppolo were still ahead of Purdy on the depth chart.
“He’s like, ‘I think our third-string quarterback is our best quarterback,’ ” York said. “I’m like, ‘OK. What does that mean?’ ”
We have seen Cinderella stories at quarterback before in the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady, who would win seven Super Bowls, was a surprising star drafted in the sixth round in his first Super Bowl against the Rams.
Kurt Warner was undrafted and then led the Rams to the Super Bowl.
What makes Purdy’s story so interesting, though, is how many avenues the 49ers went down searching for their franchise quarterback before finding him with the last pick in the draft.
“One thing that owners don’t love to hear when they’ve invested money and or draft picks or both into people is that the last pick in the draft is the guy that we think is the best,” York said. “That’s generally not great news. But [Shanahan’s] honest and he let it play out the right way.”
Purdy is the only quarterback drafted in 2022 that has had much success.
Kenny Pickett went in the first round to the Steelers and has been inconsistent as a starter.
Desmond Ridder, taken in the second round by the Falcons and Sam Howell, taken in the fifth round by the Commanders, have been starters but likely will be replaced in 2024.
Malik Willis and Matt Corral, taken in the third round by the Titans and Panthers, respectively, have not played much.
The Patriots took Bailey Zappe in the fourth round and he replaced Mac Jones this year but is not expected to start in 2024.
The Steelers took Chris Oladokun in the seventh round before Purdy but he is now on the Chiefs’ practice squad.
Lance was part of the ballyhooed class of 2021 that now looks terrible.
Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars), Zach Wilson (Jets), Lance, Justin Fields (Bears) and Jones all went in the first round.
Lawrence is the only one guaranteed to start for the team that drafted him next season.
Lance was supposed to be the starter in 2022 but he got hurt in Week 2.
Garoppolo took over, but he went down in Week 13 and Purdy gained the starting job and never gave it back.
He won his first seven starts before an injured elbow in the NFC Championship game cost Purdy and the 49ers.
“When Brock took over last year, I think we had a calm about us, but there was a sense that nothing catches you by surprise,” York said. “You might not love everything that Kyle tells you, but he’s always open and honest, especially in the moment.”
The 49ers traded Lance to the Cowboys for a fourth-round pick after last season and let Garoppolo go to the Raiders as a free agent. Purdy is a finalist for the MVP and his team is in the Super Bowl.
Remember the lesson of Purdy as we talk endlessly about the quarterbacks in the draft for the next few months.