NFL Analysis


6 min read

Brock Purdy Is Really Good — But Not Elite — And That Matters In NFL Playoffs

Brock Purdy throws pass in Super Bowl LVIII
Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy’s story is one of the coolest in sports. He is the ultimate underdog and just led his team to the Super Bowl in his second season. But instead of being universally praised for his rise to stardom, there has been a strong backlash to his play during the last few months. It has nothing to do with Purdy.

Instead of appreciating how well he's played after being Mr. Irrelevant in the 2022 NFL Draft, there are daily battles about just how good Purdy is.

Is he one of the league’s elite quarterbacks? Or is he just a product of Kyle Shanahan and all the talent around him? Is he a game manager? Or a franchise-changer? Sunday was a great example of the difference between a good quarterback and a special one. 

If you were to just look at the box score, it would appear Purdy had a fine game. He completed 23 of 38 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown. He took only one sack and did not turn the ball over. That is enough to win games, especially with his supporting cast. Unfortunately, it's not quite good enough. 

Purdy Wasn't Enough

The biggest problem for Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers was their inconsistency on Sunday. They moved the ball with ease in the first half, but their offense stalled out in a big way in the middle quarters. 

From the four-minute, 23-second mark in the second quarter until the one-minute, 43-second mark in the third quarter, the 49ers did not get a first down. During that stretch, the Kansas City Chiefs outscored the 49ers 13-0, allowing them to take the lead going into the fourth quarter.

The 49ers dominated the first 20 minutes of the game, but that middle stretch cost them the Lombardi. In that 17 minutes and 20 seconds of game clock time, Purdy was 2-of-8 passing for minus-1 yard. The Chiefs created pressure, and Purdy simply had no answer. 

Elite quarterbacks can't and don't go that long of a stretch without making at least one play, let alone converting a first down. 

The most notable issue with Purdy was an inability to make plays on third down. The Chiefs knew if they could create pressure on Purdy, he tends to play skittish. And instead of keeping his eyes down the field, he's more likely to chuck and duck to avoid taking a sack. That was the case on Sunday night. 

The 49ers were a measly 3 of 12 on third down, and that’s where the game was decided. 

Purdy had 11 dropbacks on third down, completing four passes and converting just three times. When Purdy and the 49ers stay ahead of the sticks, there wasn’t a better offense in the NFL this season. 

Courtesy of

Even in this game, the 49ers had a success rate of 48 percent on early downs and averaged 0.30 EPA/play when passing. Their offensive attack was balanced, and they kept the Chiefs on their heels. But things changed on later downs.

It’s common for quarterbacks and teams to struggle on later downs (third and fourth down) as things tend to get harder and tighter. But the difference between the 49ers and Chiefs on money downs told the whole story of Super Bowl LVIII. 

49ers' stats (left) and Chiefs' stats (right). Courtesy of

The Chiefs had a 50 percent success rate on late downs while averaging 0.12 EPA/play. Conversely, the 49ers saw their success rate drop to 36 percent, averaging 0.00 EPA/play. When things get closer and tighter, elite quarterbacks rise up and win. But for Purdy and the 49ers, that's where the game was lost. 

The perfect example where this game was lost was on the 49ers’ final third down of regulation. With two minutes left, one more third-down conversion would have sealed the game. 

The 49ers would have run down just about the entire clock and kicked a short field goal for the win. Instead, Purdy threw into the blitz, where the pass was ultimately knocked down by Trent McDuffie.

The 49ers got another chance to redeem themselves in overtime. They faced a third-and-4 from the Chiefs’ 9-yard line. Once again, the 49ers failed to complete a pass. 

Even a small gain would have allowed Kyle Shanahan the opportunity to go for the touchdown. Instead, Kansas City forced the 49ers to kick a 27-yard field goal. And, of course, Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs down the field for the winning touchdown. 

Purdy’s inability and the 49ers to complete routine passes on third down allowed the Chiefs to hang around and eventually steal a Super Bowl.

Same Old 49ers Story?

Was Purdy the reason the 49ers lost? Absolutely not. The defense could not get a stop on the final two drives of the game, and special teams’ mistakes cost the 49ers several points. Jake Moody had an extra point blocked, and they muffed a punt that immediately set up a touchdown pass. 

But did Purdy do enough to elevate his team? That is a different question. 

The 49ers don't have to make a decision on Purdy for a while. He still has two years left on his rookie deal. But it's hard to imagine his team will ever be better than this. 

San Francisco might have had the best group of skill players in NFL history. Yet, it still wasn't enough. The 49ers scored just 19 points in the first four quarters of this game and 22 total. Against an all-time great like Mahomes, that was never going to be enough.

Purdy is a good quarterback on a great roster with one of the best offensive minds in NFL history. But he's not Mahomes, and he's not in the Josh Allen/Lamar Jackson tier either. And that's okay. 

He is still an incredible story, and he is only improving as a quarterback. But the discourse surrounding Purdy during the last few months has always been silly. 

He is a good quarterback. But not a great one. Unfortunately, it will probably take a great one to knock off Mahomes and the Chiefs. The 49ers are hopeful Purdy can be that player, but he wasn't on Sunday. 

It's fair to wonder if he ever will be. This isn't Jimmy Garoppolo 2.0, but there are some eeirly similar things about this result for the 49ers.