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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Analytics disprove popular narrative about 49ers QB Brock Purdy

Jun 9, 2024 at 11:51 AM

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Brock Purdy came close to leading the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl championship in February and might have been the game's MVP had his team held on in overtime. Despite his early success in the league, critics still seek to diminish his accomplishments, attributing his performance to his impressive supporting cast and head coach Kyle Shanahan's system rather than to his own talent.

Being the last overall draft pick in 2022 doesn't help Purdy's case, as many use that fact as the backbone for their criticisms. They believe that a player passed over by every NFL team that many times couldn't possibly be among the league's best, casting doubt on the draft evaluation process and those who didn't even have Purdy on their radar.

One prevalent narrative surrounding Purdy is that he can only rack up yardage with short passes, relying on his targets to gain yards after the catch and pad his stats. However, anyone who has watched Purdy throughout his short career knows this to be false. Purdy is a superb passer when targeting his receivers deep, and the analytics back that up.

According to Pro Football Focus, Purdy was the best quarterback last season on deep passes, defined as throws of 20 or more yards downfield. He topped C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans and Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams in this category with a 99.9 passing grade from the analytics site. His 138.1 passer rating on deep throws was second only to Stroud's 140.5 mark.

"A popular narrative among Brock Purdy's detractors is that he gets by on dink-and-dunk passes while letting his skilled teammates do all the work," wrote Pro Football Focus contributor Jim Wyman. "However, Purdy ranked just 18th in short passing grade (73.0). His deep ball, on the other hand, was nearly perfect, resulting in a seemingly impossible 99.9 mark. On balls targeted 20 or more yards downfield, Purdy completed 30-of-53 passes for 956 yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception while having a big-time throw to turnover-worthy play ratio of 17-to-2."

Deep Passing (20 or more yards, min. 50 attempts)

Player Pass Grade Pass Yards
Brock Purdy 99.9 956
C.J. Stroud 98.6 1,204
Matthew Stafford 97.8 948
Justin Fields 96.7 697
Trevor Lawrence 96.6 1,072

Purdy was also incredibly effective when his offensive line kept the pressure away. The 49ers quarterback earned a 93.2 grade while throwing from a clean pocket. Only Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins, and Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions graded higher. His 125.4 passer rating in a clean pocket led all NFL quarterbacks.

Purdy and the 49ers aim to rebound from their gut-wrenching Super Bowl defeat in February, making another championship run in the 2024 season.
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