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Brock Purdy could go from Mr. Irrelevant to Mr. MVP

Many football fans still don’t know what to make of 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. If the 49ers end up with the No. 1 seed in the NFC when the dust settles on the 2023 regular season, they’ll have a much better sense of what he’s all about — because it will put him squarely in the mix for MVP consideration.

That’s how it goes in the NFL. The quarterback of one of the top seeds in either conference gets serious consideration from the voters, unless someone else does something statistically remarkable.

Purdy is undefeated as a regular-season starter, dating back to his unexpected rise from QB3 to QB1 as a rookie who was the last player drafted in 2022. This year, the 49ers are 3-0. They’ve scored 30 points each game. Purdy has 736 passing yards, four touchdown passes, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 106.3.

While Purdy might take a back seat in the MVP voting to the quarterback of the top seed in the AFC (especially if the top seed is the Chiefs, Bills, or Dolphins), he will be in the mix if the 49ers finish atop the conference. That’s how NFL MVPs are typically picked.

Meanwhile, there’s a hesitation among plenty of fans to fully embrace Purdy as a franchise quarterback. On Friday’s PFT Live, Peter King acknowledged the strange reluctance by some to regard Purdy as a top-flight, short-list franchise quarterback.

At one point, I offered a few possibilities. First, 49ers fans generally are skittish about the quarterback situation, given the various twists and turns of the past few years. Second, Purdy himself has added to that sense of foreboding, since he suffered a serious elbow injury in the NFC Championship, a game the 49ers quite possibly would have won if he was healthy. Third, Purdy has had some deep-ball accuracy issues this year, raising the question of whether he’ll be able to make a big throw in a big spot, like in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl.

In Super Bowl LIV, Jimmy Garoppolo did not check the right box in this critical pass/fail test, missing a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders with a championship on the line. For Purdy, it’s to be determined whether he’ll deliver. Or maybe the 49ers will be so good that they’ll overpower their way to a championship without Purdy ever having to do it.

After reciting those various other issues, I opted for a little fun. I suggested that some fans might still be skeptical because he doesn’t have a great quarterback name. Brock Purdy. “Purdy’s a little too close to turdy,” I said.

As I was trotting out the tongue-in-cheek take for King, I knew someone would take just that one-minute chunk, ignore the broader context of the discussion, and rip me for it. That’s fine. I own it. When you speak extemporaneously for 12 hours per week (five episodes of PFT Live, one episode of #PFTPM, and a joint picks podcast with Chris Simms), there will be comments with which some disagree. And, at times, objectively stupid things might be said. As long as the check clears, I can live with the occupational hazard.

Would it have been nice if the haters and the likes-buying bots listened to the entire segment before piling on? Yes. Did I accept that this is exactly what would happen as I was saying it, two days after the reaction on Twitter to a beat writer’s bizarrely inaccurate comment about Justin Fields turned Chicago upside down? Indeed I did.

I didn’t do it on purpose. I definitely didn’t plan it. It just came out during an organic, unscripted discussion that ultimately took us down an unexpected path.

And here’s the absolute truth. The first time I saw his name, I genuinely thought, “That’s doesn’t really sound like an NFL quarterback.” (I can’t be the only one who reacted that way.)

Plenty of quarterbacks play their way into making their name, like Ben Roethlisberger did. And, as someone who got called “Oreo” from the first day of first grade (in part because my physique at the time suggested I really liked eating them), sometimes a high-end athlete has to overcome stupid little superficial things that become instant fodder for the playground punks in order to muster the kind of confidence it takes to excel at every level of a given sport, especially football.

Anyway, Brock Purdy is in the process of making his name as an NFL quarterback. He already carries the moniker of “Mr. Irrelevant” (which I hate). If he continues to thrive as the quarterback of one of the best teams in football, Purdy could add “MVP” to the back end of his official designation.

If that happens, that would be kind of good.