Is it possible that Brock Purdy is a top-10 quarterback in the NFL and still only the 10th-best player on the San Francisco 49ers? It’s at least worthy of debate, and if it weren’t for former MVP Cam Newton injecting some surprisingly decent logic into the equation, well, we wouldn’t have yet another compelling twist in the Purdy discourse.
On his 4th & 1 YouTube show, Newton, who generated a lot of controversy (only to be proven right) by labeling Dak Prescott as a game manager, has seen his same take on Purdy come to fruition throughout the NFL playoffs. But then he dropped in the added detail of Purdy as the 10th-best 49er, and now I know the Purdy stans will come out of the woodwork to defend Mr. Irrelevant.
“Brock Purdy is the 10th-best player on the 49ers”
Fair point by Cam here. To be a “game changer” rather than a game manager, you need to be a top-three player on your own team. I can get behind that rule for the most part. When the Niners narrowly escaped the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round, Purdy took some serious heat. Even before that rocky outing, ex-Raiders CEO Amy Trask threw shade at Purdy, calling him the worst QB among the eight remaining in the postseason.
Upon covering the Trask piece, I decided to rank the top 20 or so QBs in the NFL at the end. I had Purdy at No. 9, because he was in the top five in every major passing category, including a league-leading 113.0 passer rating.
But in reflecting upon the other top QBs I had ahead of him, all of them are, to me, clear top-three players on their team. Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, CJ Stroud, Matthew Stafford, Jordan Love and Justin Herbert. Some of the guys behind Purdy at least have arguments, such as Jalen Hurts and even Dak. In doing this exercise, I realize I might’ve been a little unfair to Trevor Lawrence (17th-ranked QB) and Kyler Murray (18th). Two former No. 1 overall picks whose rosters look rough right now. By Newton’s definition, I’d consider them game changers.
Check out how Newton stacks Purdy up among the biggest stars on San Francisco’s roster.
Cam Newton's Top 10 49ers: 1. McCaffrey 2. Trent Williams 3. Fred Warner 4. Nick Bosa 5. Deebo 6. George Kittle 7. Charvarius Ward 8. Dre Greenlaw 9. Brandon Aiyuk 10. Brock Purdy
Honorable mentions: —Chase Young —Kyle Juszczyk —Arik Armstead —Talanoa Hufanga
You can’t blame Newton for gassing up his former Carolina Panthers teammate Christian McCaffrey, but CMC is for sure the 49ers’ best player. Crazy to say that considering how the discussion about running backs revolves around how replaceable they are. Left tackle Trent Williams is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. No question about it.
Fred Warner has established himself as the best linebacker in football. Nick Bosa led the league in sacks last year and might be the best overall EDGE defender in the sport. Right there with Myles Garrett, TJ Watt, Maxx Crosby and Micah Parsons. Throw Aidan Hutchinson in there, too.
The Niners offense and Purdy himself tend to clam up when Deebo Samuel is out of the lineup. George Kittle is and has been an elite tight end for several years who also brings a loud personality and fiery leadership to take the pressure off Purdy in that regard. Brandon Aiyuk is among the handful of the best pure route-runners going right now.
So those are seven ahead of Purdy I’d agree with right away. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw and cornerback Charvarius Ward seem like bigger stretches to me. Then again, Greenlaw had two interceptions to bail out the Niners in that Green Bay matchup, while Ward was voted a second-team All-Pro this season. Injured safety Talanoa Hufanga was a first-team All-Pro in 2022. The fact that this team still went to the Super Bowl without him hurts his case to be ahead of Purdy a little bit.
Since Purdy touches the ball every single play and has fared so well as a starter to this point, despite his passer rating dipping to 87.7 in San Francisco’s run to Super Bowl LVIII, I’d still rank the top 10 49ers as follows:
1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Trent Williams
3. Nick Bosa
4. Fred Warner
5. Deebo Samuel
6. Brandon Aiyuk
7. Brock Purdy
8. George Kittle
9. Charvarius Ward
10. Dre Greenlaw
Roast me if you think I’m wrong, or validate my feelings by agreeing with me. Either way, y’all better buckle up for a Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce Super Bowl in which the dynastic Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are an underdog to an opponent whose seventh-best player (or 10th if you side with Cam Newton) is the quarterback.