The fact that the last pick in the NFL Draft has historically been slapped with the “Mr. Irrelevant” label tells you basically everything you need to know about the impact (or lack thereof) the players who end up in that particular position have had over the decades.
There wasn’t really much evidence to suggest Brock Purdy was going to be the exception to that rule after the former Iowa State quarterback was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 262nd overall pick in 2022.
It didn’t seem like Purdy would get an opportunity to prove he might be the exception to the Mr. Irrelevant “rule” when you consider he was listed behind Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo on the 49ers QB depth chart heading into the regular season.
However, he got the chance to do exactly that after those two men were sidelined with injuries by the time the beginning of December rolled around—and it’s safe to say he took full advantage.
Purdy helped lead the team to the win after stepping up to replace Garoppolo after he exited toward the start of San Francisco’s Week 13 showdown with the Dolphins, and he capped off his rookie season by going undefeated over the course of his first five starts in the regular season.
He went on to prove that wasn’t a fluke after he and the 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship Game, but San Francisco and the rest of the NFL world were deprived of a satisfactory ending to the storybook run after Purdy tore his UCL during a contest that saw the team’s season come to an end with a disappointing whimper.
There’s no telling what the future holds for Purdy and the 49ers, but the QB was kind enough to shed some light on his wild ride during a recent interview I conducted while chatting with him after he connected with Buffalo Wild Wings to drum up some hype ahead of the NFL Draft.
Without further ado…
Brock Purdy discusses being Mr. Irrelevant, getting thrown into the fire during his rookie season, and his “Welcome to the NFL” moment
Brobible: Hey Brock, thank you for taking the time to chat with me.
Brock Purdy: No problem. How are you doing?
Can’t complain. To kick things off, can you just give me the lowdown on what you’re doing with Buffalo Wild Wings?
So I’m partnering with B-Dubs. They have burgers out now and they’re unexpectedly great—just like my rookie season where I came into the NFL sort of just believing in myself, so I thought it would be great to work with them.
The NFL Draft is right around the corner and I’d love to get some insight from you into what the pre-draft process is like for someone who’s not expected to go in the first couple of rounds.
You obviously go into the draft sort of having an idea of what’s to come just in terms of if you’re a higher draft prospect or if you’re a Day Two or Day Three—or even undrafted—kind of guy.
You sort of have a feel, but you don’t know exactly where you’re going. There are some nerves and mixed emotions about where you’re going to end up.
Last year, I was thinking, “Hopefully I can get my name called on Day Three.” Day Two would’ve been great, but Day Three is what I was basically expecting in a sense. It was just a waiting game and hoping and praying to get a call.
At the end of the day, I just wanted an opportunity to go somewhere and then show my abilities once I got to camp.
What was the actual draft like for you? Were you sitting on the couch watching TV for three days in a row or just kind of monitoring it?
In previous years, I would watch to the first round to see who got picked, but on Day Two and Day Three, I’d really just be on my phone to see where guys went. Last year was the first time where I sat down and actually watched the whole thing.
I obviously wanted to get a phone call, but I also wanted to see where the guys I was at the combine with ended up going.
Day Three is when I was hoping to get a call, and I was on the couch with my dad and my family and sort of playing the waiting game. It got a little exhausting toward the end, and I took a nap because I was so tired from all of it.
But I finally got the call at the end, so I was very thankful for it.
I’m gonna assume you were aware of the Mr. Irrelevant label heading into things. Was that anything you gave serious thought to or decided to use as motivation once it was bestowed upon you?
I mean, I looked at it as an opportunity, man. I got to get drafted. I had an opportunity to go and be a part of a team like the 49ers and that’s how I looked at it more than the term “Mr. Irrelevant.”
It was fun to sort of mess around with the guys and with my family and friends about the name. But deep down inside, I was excited to show who I was and what I was really about, so I just looked at it as an opportunity rather than a joke or anything like that.
To sort of touch on that, do you feel like it’s too early to take a victory lap or do you think you’ve already changed how people look at the last pick?
I’m very thankful about how last year went; having the opportunity to go and just help my team win.
People can say what they want about me being Mr. Irrelevant—like the “best” Mr. Irrelevant—but I just look at it like I was another draft pick who made the most of his opportunity.
I mean, the last pick is still in the NFL, right?
Yeah, that’s how I look at it.
So you go from that to officially joining the 49ers. What were the biggest initial adjustments that came with making the leap from college to the NFL?
I would just say in college you played some dudes that are big, fast, and physical, and that’s how it is in the NFL—but it’s like that at every position.
The mental part of the game is just on another level: the playbook, going to the line with two plays in mind, having to check into the right play. There are just a lot of things like that that go into it.
The study and the preparation basically replace going to school in college. At the professional level, it’s football all day, and the schedule is much more defined throughout the day.
Were there any particular players or coaches that specifically helped with the transition or was it more of an overall team effort?
I would say both. Quarterback coach Brian Griese and assistant quarterback coach Klint Kubiak take their jobs very seriously. I was the last pick, but they invested a lot of time into helping me grow with the playbook and everything. Those were guys who were definitely in my corner and that helped me along the way.
But I also had teammates like George Kittle and linebacker Fred Warner who would always just plant some encouragement into me and help me out—especially after I became a starter. It was a team effort for sure.
Did you ever anticipate your rookie year would play out like it did when you headed into the season?
I always try to just envision myself going out in the field, doing my job, and having success. I’ve always had that hope and that vision in mind.
I didn’t know when exactly I would get an opportunity—or how—but I just wanted to make sure I was ready at any moment in the season. Then, all of a sudden, Week 13 comes and I get thrown in. That’s my opportunity.
I was just trying to stay ready for that moment.
It feels safe to assume you had some time to prepare for what eventually unfolded after Trey went down. With that said, I’m curious about your initial reaction when it actually became a reality.
Did you have to spend any time processing it or was it more just “Alright, let’s do this?”
The whole season I was in tune with every play. When Jimmy was playing, I was like, “Okay, what is he doing? What are his reads?” so just in case something happens I can go in the game and understand what the situation is.
In the Miami game, he went down on third down and we kicked a field goal. He’s on the sideline a little banged up and then Griese comes up to me and is like, “Hey, man, warm up. We don’t know if Jimmy’s going back in.”
For me, it was like, “Okay, how can I go back in and just manage the offense to go put up points on the board?” That was it. That’s where I was at in that situation and how I handled it.
I like to ask a version of this question to basically every pro athlete I talked to. Do you have a specific “Welcome to the NFL” Moment that stood out once you made your debut?
So I played in that Miami game, but it really happened the next week against Tampa Bay, Tom Brady, and the Bucs.
It was literally the first play of the game. We had two plays on, so I’m going up to the line of scrimmage and I checked to a certain play—which was the wrong play.
The safety came off the edge and just destroyed me. It was a hard hit. I think that was the moment. I was like, “Okay, this is my first start, and on the very first play of the game, I got killed,” but I got up and learned from it and we ended up winning.
Amazing. Thanks again, Brock.
Yes, sir. Appreciate it.
Portions of this interview were edited for clarity.