Brock Purdy’s place in the NFL quarterback hierarchy is perhaps the most hotly debated topic among fans through the first few weeks of the 2023 season. Mr. Irrelevant from the 2022 draft is now 8-0 in the regular season as a starter and continues helping the 49ers offense hit the 30-point mark.
Some people say the numbers indicate he’s one of the NFL’s most effective signal callers. Others say the tape would indicate otherwise. A conversion of those two things leads to a debate about where Purdy ranks that ultimately doesn’t matter for the 49ers.
Whether Purdy is a consensus bottom 5 or top 10 quarterback is only a matter of the desire for fans to see the player on their team respected as one of the best at their position. It’s about “respect” or something like that.
In the modern era though there’s another, more important piece underlying this conversation. Elite quarterback play has been deemed a prerequisite for winning a Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo was very good for the 49ers, but their ceiling was always perceived to be reinforced by his play. And that’s where the Purdy conversation really matters.
The question isn’t whether he’s a top-X quarterback. The question is whether Purdy lifts the 49ers offense to a level high enough that they can reach and win the Super Bowl.
His play through eight regular season starts would say yes. Would he be playing like this if he was starting for Houston? Probably not. However, he plays for the 49ers, and he has a terrific playcaller and an arsenal of offensive weapons at his disposal. Purdy to this point has orchestrated the 49ers offense as well or better than anyone else has in the Kyle Shanahan era. That’s what matters. And so far the team is averaging more than 30 points per game when he starts, which would put them in a really good position to win the Super Bowl.
Getting caught up in individual rankings forces us to look at a quarterback in a vacuum. Surely the 49ers offense would be even better with Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow or Josh Allen. And perhaps the team runs into the same ceiling it did with Garoppolo where they need the QB to make a handful of great plays and he can’t.
This is still a team sport though despite our debates and arguments as fans. And right now the 49ers entire offense looks the caliber of a Super Bowl winning unit with Purdy under center.
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