Brock Purdy may not have finished Super Bowl night as a champion, but he more than validated himself in defeat.
The San Francisco 49ers came up short as they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 25-22, in overtime in Super Bowl LVIII. And while Purdy and the Niners will have to go through another offseason of questions of whether or not they can beat the Chiefs when it counts, this “game manager” label surrounding Purdy needs to be put to rest.
The 24-year-old, second-year quarterback matched Patrick Mahomes — the best quarterback in the game and one who has a chance at dethroning Tom Brady as the greatest ever — until the Chiefs’ final possession of the game, turning in a mistake-free game while twice giving his team the lead in the fourth quarter and overtime while it was tied.
Purdy’s final numbers of the night were as follows: 22-of-38 for 255 yards with one touchdown, no turnovers and just one sack taken all night against the Chiefs’ ferocious defensive front.
If there was one criticism that could be pointed towards Purdy’s way it’s that he didn’t convert those late field goals into touchdowns to seal the game. Purdy came up short twice — once at the Chiefs’ 9-yard-line — in Kansas City territory on 3rd-and-5 or less, with the Niners settling for field goals instead.
Mr. Irrelevant — the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft — took ownership of that following the game.
“We have the team and the offense to score touchdowns & I failed to put our team in position to do that,” said Purdy after the game.
The more deciding factors in Purdy losing the game wasn’t so much the field goals as it was the Niners making more mistakes. The botched punt return and the blocked extra point were more costly than Purdy failing to lead touchdown drives on the last two possessions.
It’s also worth noting that San Francisco’s defense failed to stop Mahomes on a fourth down and the fact that Niners actually held a 10-point lead in this game.
While Purdy certainly doesn’t play the game for moral victories — or the media’s approval — his gutsy performance where he matched Mahomes blow-for-blow until the very end (with one less turnover) should put to rest this silly “game manager” label that’s only in place because of his draft history.
When Brady accomplished a similar degree of success two decades prior — as a fellow late draft pick — he was also saddled with the “game manager” label. The difference was, it was said with a more positive spin rather than it being a criticism.
The “game manager” label assigned to Purdy is said in a disparaging way despite his two fourth quarter comebacks — including a 17-point deficit in the NFC Championship Game — in the playoffs leading into this game.
Furthermore, as good as Brady was during the Patriots’ first dynasty, he wasn’t a top five MVP candidate in his second year as the starter.
No, this isn’t to disparage Brady and put Purdy on the same level as him. This is to prove a point that Purdy is actually further along than Brady was through their first two seasons.
That’s saying something, even though people may not want to admit it.
In just his second year — and his first full season as a starter coming off of a serious injury — he led the NFL in multiple passing categories, including passer rating, yards per completion and yards per attempt. He broke the franchise single-season record for passing yards on a team that has two all-time greats at quarterback in Joe Montana and Steve Young.
A “game manager” that’s given this label in a negative way is a quarterback who can’t lead comebacks or the game has to be played perfectly in order for him to win games. Furthermore, a “game manager” doesn’t lead the NFL in multiple passing categories in his first full season as a starter.
And he’s a game manager, why? Because he plays on a stacked team with multiple Pro Bowlers and a well-respected head coach in Kyle Shanahan? Because he was the No. 262 pick in the draft?
Former NFL quarterback Christian Ponder said it best when he explained why the “game manager” label assigned to Purdy is silly.
“It’s so funny how being a game manager is a knock on quarterbacks,” said Ponder before the game. “Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what a quarterback is? You should manage the game. You should be limiting turnovers, get the ball to the playmakers, let them do it, that’s your job and he’s done that job really well. He’s in the Super Bowl.”
Coming into this game, the “game manager” label assigned to Purdy was lazy and disrespectful. And while that narrative probably won’t change in a lot of people’s eyes due to the loss, Purdy proved one major thing in defeat.
He’s more than just a “game manager.” He’s actually a top quarterback.
First appeared on www.forbes.com