Let’s be clear about one thing: both Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey have been phenomenal this season for the San Francisco 49ers.
To paraphrase coach Kyle Shanahan at a recent presser: if you look at the numbers you can make an MVP case for both and if you look at the film you can make an MVP case for both.
However, I think part of what is overlooked with the 49ers success is that it is fueled by both Purdy and McCaffrey playing with a chip on their shoulder. I don’t think either guys suits up every game thinking, “I’m going to prove the doubters wrong today.” Both men, and seemingly the entire team, are committed to winning 100%.
Why it might benefit Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey to NOT win NFL MVP
Yet, I think there is no question that part of Purdy relishes shutting up the detractors who say he is a system quarterback or that he would be nothing without the offensive weapons around him. I seem to remember another quarterback taken late in the draft who fueled himself on the doubts and slights, real or imagined, of others.
The same can be said for McCaffrey. This extends back to his college days. At Stanford, he finished second in the Heisman trophy voting to Derrick Henry in 2015. One of the voters told McCaffrey that he didn’t vote for him because his games were on too late. That sticks with a player.
Then, when McCaffrey got to the NFL, he was labeled as an injury-prone running back who was mostly effective in the pass game, not as a true “lean on him” ground-and-pound running back.
McCaffrey has done a lot to silence those critics these past two seasons.
This is not to say that either player winning the MVP award would completely remove that chip from their shoulder. In either case, there would be legions of commentators crying foul and saying that they were not deserving of the award.
However, if neither player wins the award, that just adds more fuel to the fire and motivation to succeed again and again on the football field until their value becomes undeniable.
Their thinking could go: “Oh, that wasn’t enough for an MVP? How about if I go win a Super Bowl? How about if I go win another?”
While Niners fans would justifiably be upset if neither player wins the award, especially if they continue their impressive production over the final three games, they could take some solace in the fact that it would only add more motivational fuel to two guys who already have that in abundance.