LAS VEGAS — Quarterback Brock Purdy produced the league’s best passer rating and led the 49ers a Super Bowl appearance in his first full season as an NFL starter, but those accomplishments weren't enough for him to take home the Most Valuable Player award.
Purdy’s outstanding regular season was good enough for him to finish fourth in NFL MVP voting, while his 49ers teammate, running back Christian McCaffrey, was third in the voting.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson won his second league MVP, as announced Thursday evening during NFL Honors. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who led the league with 36 touchdown passes, placed ahead of both McCaffrey and Purdy as the runner-up to Jackson.
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“Brock is the leader of this team,” McCaffrey said this week. “Everything starts with him. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with.”
The voting took place before the postseason, when Dallas’ season ended with a 48-32 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC wild-card round.
San Francisco 49ers
Jackson likely separated himself from Purdy with his performance on Christmas night at Levi’s Stadium in the Ravens’ 33-19 win over the 49ers.
In addition to being a finalist for MVP, Purdy finished sixth in the voting for NFL Offensive Player of the Year and sixth for NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Coach Kyle Shanahan was fourth in the voting for NFL Coach of the Year after the 49ers earned the top seed in the NFC with a 12-5 record.
Three-time All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner finished seventh for NFL Defensive Player of the year, and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks was 11th in the balloting for Assistant Coach of the Year.
Purdy entered the Week 16 game against Baltimore as a favorite for MVP honors but his four-interception game ended his momentum to come away with the NFL’s top annual individual honor.
Still, it has been a remarkable run for Purdy, who was voted as the starting quarterback for the NFC Pro Bowl team. He became the 49ers’ first Pro Bowl quarterback since 2002, when Jeff Garcia was chosen for the third time.
Purdy entered the NFL as the final pick in the 2022 draft, as he was not considered a top draft prospect after his four-year Iowa State career.
And, now, he leads the 49ers into Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“People can overlook you or may not think you’re the biggest, the fastest, the strongest,” Purdy said. “But if you believe in yourself and you think that you have what it takes and you truly do believe that and you don’t give up on it, then you can achieve it.”
Purdy put together a record-setting season for the 49ers, setting club records in passing yards (4,280) and passer rating (113.0) in 16 games. His average of 9.6 yards per pass attempt was also tops in the NFL.
Purdy completed 69.4 percent of his pass attempts with 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“If you look at the numbers, and you didn’t put his name on it, you would be in awe,” McCaffrey said. “Then, you add the fact that he was the last pick in the draft. People forget he rehabbed his elbow the entire offseason. He didn’t get to throw until training camp, and now he’s the quarterback in the Super Bowl in his second year in the NFL.”
His stellar season was even more remarkable considering the 49ers had no idea whether Purdy would be ready for the start of the 2023 season.
After stepping into the lineup for the final six games of the 2022 regular season after Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury, Purdy played at a consistently high level.
But Purdy’s future was cast into question when he sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the first quarter of the 49ers’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 29, 2023.
Purdy underwent surgery on March 10 to repair his throwing elbow with an internal brace that reconnected the torn ligament.
Coach Kyle Shanahan told Purdy in the offseason that the only way he would not be the 49ers’ starter in 2023 was if the club signed quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady chose to retire and Purdy received full medical clearance to open training camp, at which time he was situated ahead of Trey Lance on the team’s depth chart.
The 49ers traded up to select Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 49ers ended up dealing Lance in August to the Dallas Cowboys for a fourth-round draft pick and moved into the regular season with Purdy as the starter and veteran Sam Darnold as the backup.
Purdy produced better passing numbers than Jackson, who completed 67.2 percent of his pass attempts for 3,678 yards with 24 touchdowns passes and seven interceptions for a passer rating of 102.7.
But the Ravens finished with the best record in the NFL and Jackson also rushed for 821 yards and five touchdowns.
The Ravens' season came to an end in the NFC Championship game with a 17-10 loss to the Chiefs.