Mr. Irrelevant for the 2022 NFL Draft was quarterback Brock Purdy, but Niner Noise details how his selection is quite relevant for the 49ers.
The San Francisco 49ers had many needs entering the 2022 NFL Draft. They had an offensive line that desperately needed competition on the interior, a safety position that needed to be filled, and many more.
What they didn’t have a need for was a quarterback where Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, and even Nate Sudfield, with his 2022 guaranteed money, have a strong claim to a roster spot should any of them not get traded.
Yet the Niners used the final pick of the 2022 draft to select Mr. Irrelevant, quarterback Brock Purdy from Iowa State.
Yes, the last pick of the draft is almost entirely akin to signing a priority free agent, and at this point, there’s no grand scheme about what position desperately needs an infusion of talent.
But, as Purdy will be dubbed 2022’s Mr. Irrelevant, his selection is quite relevant for San Francisco, both in what he can bring to the table and what it tells us about the front office.
Brock Purdy can still carve out an NFL niche
Purdy’s draft profile from NFL.com is not flattering. Lance Zierlein’s description of him is that of a quarterback whose physical attributes do not reach the quality of an NFL starter and whose development process in the art of being a quarterback is too long to justify those skills.
Purdy is a low-ceiling player, who will likely at best cap out as an NFL backup. Expecting a story of a franchise quarterback is unreasonable.
However, expecting a potential growth towards being a backup quarterback isn’t, and Niner Noise did tab him as a potential backup to Trey Lance. And there is tangible value in drafting and developing quarterbacks who may cap out at a backup level.
For starters, it’s valuable insulation from injuries, such as the ones that have riddled the 49ers for all of Garoppolo’s tenure. But it’s also the ability to take a chance on the most valuable position in sports, one where long-time backup quarterbacks can gain lucrative contracts and players sitting in the wings can almost always be traded away.
Garoppolo is the perfect example. He hardly played with the New England Patriots but grew behind the scenes. He played a little and showcased his talent, and in the end, the Patriots recouped a second-round pick for a player they had no use for because then-Pats starter Tom Brady was still going strong.
49ers can get value out of Brock Purdy, too
Back when C.J. Beathard was on the 49ers, I repeatedly wrote about the importance of his development. Even if he never started for the Niners, his growth gave them a talented player other teams could potentially covet.
That didn’t work out, obviously, and in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, it was a risky game to play, but it was a gamble San Francisco made.
The same sentiment holds true here.
Purdy being drafted is significant for the 49ers because it showcases their understanding of the value on their roster and the value of their draft picks. Oftentimes, the Niners tend to forego position value when drafting players, and while they’re not perfect, they end up with a surplus at positions that are not highly valued across the league and a dearth at places that need high-impact players.
The likelihood Mr. Irrelevant will create a tangible effect on San Francisco, no matter what position, is so minimal it’s not worth even considering. There’s no downside here because there’s nothing the team could have missed. The 49ers understood that and utilized their pick for a complete upside play simply off the fact quarterbacks are valuable, even if their upside is capped.
The late-great Hall of Famer Bill Walsh allegedly said a team should draft a quarterback every year (h/t Niners Nation), and while every year may be a bit much, the sentiment holds true: There’s no such thing as too many good quarterbacks.
Purdy might be Mr. Irrelevant, and he may wind up not making the Niners roster out of training camp.
But make no mistake, his selection is very relevant to the 49ers and how they might approach the draft in the future.