The 49ers have been favored wire-to-wire this season, but one element of their run has defied the odds: Brock Purdy.
The 24-year-old quarterback was the last pick of the NFL Draft less than two years ago, only to transform into an MVP finalist and Super Bowl starter in a story that ranks among the best the league has seen in some time.
Despite his success on the field, Purdy still has his share of doubters. Some credit Kyle Shanahan’s system for Purdy’s impressive season; others cite San Francisco’s array of offensive weapons.
It might take a few years to know the full extent of Purdy’s ability as an NFL starter, but he’s not the first quarterback who had to prove himself at every turn simply because he wasn’t a top draft prospect. Tom Brady found himself in a similar situation with the Patriots more than two decades ago.
Here’s a look at how the first two seasons of Purdy’s career compare to Brady’s rise in New England.
MORE: Brock Purdy embraces Mr. Irrelevant nickname ahead of Super Bowl
Brock Purdy vs. Tom Brady stats
The majority of the NFL’s top quarterbacks were first-round picks, but there have been some extreme exceptions in league history. Brady, the consensus greatest quarterback of all-time, was drafted 199th overall in 2000. Purdy has started his career 17-4 after being drafted 262nd overall in ’22.
It will be quite a while until we see another quarterback touch Brady’s legacy in terms of both championships and records. When it comes to early-career success as a late-round draft pick, however, Purdy matches up with Brady extraordinarily well.
Here’s a closer look at how Purdy’s stats compare to Brady’s through their first 21 regular season starts.
Brock Purdy vs. Tom Brady through 21 regular season starts
Below is a look at how Purdy and Brady stack up through their first five playoff starts.
Brock Purdy vs. Tom Brady through 5 playoff starts
MORE: Redrafting the 2017 NFL Draft with Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey
Is Brock Purdy the next Tom Brady?
Well, that might be a stretch. What made Tom Brady so much greater than the rest was his longevity and his unprecedented playoff success. Like any other quarterback, Purdy has a long way to go to prove he can sustain this kind of play, and he has yet to win a Super Bowl.
Even so, the early returns from Purdy are striking. He went 17-4 over his first 21 regular season games, beating Brady in completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns. Over the first five playoff starts for the pair, Brady leads in wins but trails in yards and touchdowns.
With that being said, Purdy does have a tremendous supporting cast and the benefit of a favorable offensive system. That shouldn’t erase his success, but it does add context in comparison to the start of Brady’s career, as the Michigan product took over a Patriots team that was coming off a 5-11 season.
MORE: How Brock Purdy has proven Cam Newton, other doubters wrong
Brady didn’t post spectacular numbers early in his career, but he proved he had staying power by winning. He won the Super Bowl in his first season as a starter and remarkably remained unbeaten in the playoffs until his 11th game.
Purdy has won more than 80 percent of his NFL starts, including the playoffs, but he hasn’t yet won a Super Bowl. If he does win in Las Vegas against a stifling Chiefs defense, it might be time for Purdy’s doubters to recognize what he’s done for someone who entered the league with no expectations.
Purdy isn’t Brady, but what he’s doing hasn’t been seen by many quarterbacks not named Brady. Purdy just might have a case to be the 49ers’ version of Brady if he goes from the last pick of the draft to Super Bowl-winning quarterback in two seasons.
And if he is? History will remember that Purdy made his first NFL start against Brady.
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