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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Why Cynthia Frelund named Brock Purdy the 49ers’ most underappreciated player

May 27, 2023 at 3:38 PM--

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NFL Media's Cynthia Frelund took on her annual offseason task of identifying the league's most underappreciated player for each team. The San Francisco 49ers certainly have their share of play-making superstars, from names like Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle on offense to Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, and Talanoa Hufanga on defense.

So how do you determine a team's "underappreciated" contributor?

"First, I calculate and then rank each player's season-long contribution metric by team (win share)," Frelund explains. "To sum it up without getting overly technical, the contribution metric (or win share) measures each player's production during the previous season. The metric encompasses a value for every snap by each player and reveals each player's contribution to the team's overall win total."

Then, it is time to look at the top contributors' salaries to determine which is underappreciated. Where each player was drafted, and the NFL honors they have earned (or haven't yet earned) are also factored into the decisions.

Which player represents the 49ers? None other than last season's rookie sensation, Brock Purdy, the final overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Purdy had a salary-cap number of $724,253 during his rookie campaign and will eat up just $889,253 in 2023, per

The second-year quarterback's average annual salary throughout his rookie contract will be $934,253, which ranks 93rd among all quarterbacks, an absolute deal for the 49ers.

"Mr. Irrelevant? Not exactly," Frelund wrote. "According to my calculations, Purdy's first four games played saw the biggest win-share increase for any rookie in the 2022 season. Obviously, his O-line, skill players, defense and coaches all deserve some credit here, too, for all of the support they supplied. Next Gen Stats help tell that story, as Purdy logged eight touchdowns on passes of fewer than 10 air yards from Week 13 through 18 -- the second-most in the league over that span.

"He also averaged 6.5 air yards per attempt during that period, which was the fourth-lowest figure in the NFL. His 123.7 passer rating when not blitzed led the league in this time period, while his 103.1 passer rating vs. zone was third-best. To his credit, he also posted a 101.9 passer rating when under pressure in Weeks 13-18, ranking third."

Purdy being underappreciated makes sense when considering what the quarterback earns compared to his impact last season. However, "underappreciated" is not the word that comes to mind when you hear the praises from his coaches and teammates.

"I think you can look at his first game that he played, just stepping right in and really looking unfazed and really comfortable out there," defensive lineman Arik Armstead recently said. "Brock has a certain presence about himself that gives you confidence. He just has that gunslinger mentality, able to make plays off-script.

"And he's an excellent player and really was a catalyst for making that run and getting [us] to the NFC Championship. He took the league by storm last year."

Said running back Christian McCaffrey: "I talk about Brock and what he did last year, and not just how he played, but the way he carried himself. He's built to be a quarterback in this league."

H/t to Kyle Madson of Niners Wire for the find.

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