Palmer: Mr. Irrelevant status benefited rookie Purdy


Brock Purdy will go down as one of the best underdog stories in NFL history.

While his status as the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft gave him a title -- Mr. Irrelevant -- that he'll wear for the rest of his career, former NFL player and current television host Jesse Palmer pointed out how Purdy benefited from being a late-round pick.

“I think he had an opportunity to get his feet wet and watch other people do it,” Palmer said to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan at Super Bowl Radio Row in Phoenix. “Imagine, you get to see a guy like Jimmy Garoppolo who has been around the league, who has had success.

"In the quarterback room when watching film, you understand how they’re dissecting things -- the language and the vocabulary people are using. The things you need to do. You’re looking at other pros and figuring out here’s what I’ve got to do to make it in this league."

Purdy wasn’t expected to make the 49ers’ roster out of training camp. He appeared in all three of the 49ers’ preseason games and racked up 346 yards on 30-of-49 passing with one touchdown and one interception.

Purdy impressed the San Francisco front office so much that the team didn't want to risk losing him on waivers in an attempt to place him on the practice squad. The 49ers went into Week 1 with three quarterbacks on their active roster: Purdy, Garoppolo and starting signal-caller Trey Lance.

"To not be thrown out into the fire Week 1, absolutely," Palmer said. "To find yourself a little bit and find your own confidence -- have success at practice, have success in the preseason. Be able to tell yourself you know what? I belong here. I was Mr. Irrelevant, but I’m good enough to be here, to compete in this league.

"When my opportunity comes, I’ll be ready."

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And ready he was.

Purdy took over as the 49ers' starting quarterback on Dec. 4 when Garoppolo sustained a season-ending foot injury. He led the team to eight consecutive wins until suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow in the NFC Championship Game.

Purdy's rookie season ended one game short of a complete Hollywood script. But he proved in those eight games that the best parts of his NFL story have yet to be written.

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