NFL News & Analysis

Is Brock Purdy playing well enough to lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl 58 victory over the Chiefs?

2WFEC5D San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws during the NFC Championship NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

• Evening out the mistakes with big throws: Purdy has three turnover-worthy plays in the playoffs alone, but he has upped his share of big-time throws from 5.8% in the regular season to 7.1% in the playoffs.

• Purdy is on a tear despite playoff miscues: From Weeks 10-18, Purdy ranked first among NFL quarterbacks in PFF overall grade and PFF passing grade.

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There have been times this NFL season when no player is more polarizing than San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, with opinions pegging him anywhere from a mere product of the 49ers' system to NFL MVP.

Purdy has his fair share of critics. Former NFL MVP Cam Newton has openly labeled Purdy a game manager, while The Ringer's Steven Ruiz ranked him as low as 32nd to start the NFL season. However, the Niners signal-caller has also garnered praise from the analytics community, with Ben Baldwin ranking him fourth over the past two years based on adjusted expected points added per play and Kevin Cole ranking him third in his adjusted EPA metrics. ESPN's Ryan Clark even asserted live on air that Purdy had separated himself from Dak Prescott, Tua Tagovailoa, Kirk Cousins and Justin Herbert after previously criticizing the former last pick in the draft for not elevating above the Xs and Os of Kyle Shanahan’s system.

Of course, we at PFF have our defined way of viewing how well a quarterback plays, and that’s through grading every play of every game. Through our rigorous process, here are Purdy’s grades from the regular season.

PFF Grades Grade Rank
Overall Grade 89.2 4th
Passing Grade 83.6 8th
Rushing Grade 90.6 2nd

Purdy’s grades have dipped slightly in his last two playoff games, as he’s struggled as a passer in the first half of both outings. That said, he was phenomenal down the stretch against the Green Bay Packers and in the second half against the Detroit Lions to lead the 49ers to come-from-behind victories.

Speaking of second-half performances, since the 49ers' Week 9 bye, Purdy has been on a tear.

Weeks 10-18 Grade Rank
Overall Grade 92.2 1st
Passing Grade 91.0 1st
Rushing Grade 74.5 9th

And when you isolate that to the fourth quarter only, Purdy’s grades are even more impressive.

Fourth-Quarter Play (Weeks 10-18) Grade Rank
Overall Grade 94.1 1st
Passing Grade 93.0 2nd
Rushing Grade 70.2 9th

All of this points to Purdy living up to the lofty stats he’s been putting up and not being just a product of the system.

Diving into the film, Purdy isn’t just making plays in the structure of the offense. He’s evading sacks and making plays on the move when under duress.

He’s using his legs in clutch situations, in the biggest moments of his young career.

Down three scores in the NFC Championship game after a dreadful first half of play, Purdy calmly delivered in the second half.

On top of the passing stats, his rushing line was three scrambles for 52 yards and three first downs. If Purdy had been highly recruited out of high school, picked on Days 1 or 2 of the NFL draft and enjoyed the same level of success, no one would question if he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Plays like this are not normal for a quarterback to make. The best quarterbacks can stand tall in the pocket and deliver strikes under pressure. Purdy makes his share of mistakes, as highlighted by his three turnover-worthy plays in the playoffs alone, but he upped his share of big-time throws from 5.8% in the regular season to 7.1% in the playoffs.

So, is Purdy playing well enough to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl?

His overall play since Week 10 — and especially his play in the second half and fourth quarter — would indicate that he is, as he leads the NFL in PFF grade since then. But if you want to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, relying on elite play when trailing in the fourth quarter against Patrick Mahomes isn’t a recipe for success.


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