It was unclear what the 49ers were going to do with Trey Lance prior to the season start, but they gave Brock Purdy a vote of confidence when they traded the former No. 3 overall pick to the Dallas Cowboys back in August.
Fast forward to now, this turned out to be the right decision for the 49ers. Purdy has put up some impressive numbers and the 49ers have one of the best records in the NFL. The soon-to-be 24-year-old has put himself on the map, to say the least.
In fact, he’s the betting favorite to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. We still have a long way to go before the winner is announced, but it’s currently Purdy’s to lose.
The real question is, would he deserve this honor? He’s been playing well enough to at least be in the MVP conversation, but are we sure that he is worthy enough to win and not some industry plant by the oddsmakers?
As discussed in the latest episode of the Off the Charts Football Podcast, you can make the argument that he’s not even the most valuable player on his own team. It would be a disservice to give the award to Purdy when players like Trent Williams and Christian McCaffrey deserve recognition as well.
Not only that, but Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in the league. His play designs are so good that all Purdy pretty much has to do is not screw it up. When the play doesn’t go as designed, it’s typically McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, or George Kittle who picks up the slack.
The 49ers rank as the number one team in receiving Total Points (105), our best measure of the pass catchers’ value alone, by a wide margin. That dynamic quartet deserves the most recognition for the team’s production, not Purdy exclusively.
Also, Williams missed Weeks 7 and 8 for the 49ers and they ended up losing both games to the then 2-4 Vikings and 3-3 Bengals, respectively.
San Francisco doesn’t have a great record solely because of its offense either. The 49ers’ defense ranks best in points allowed per game (15.8). It’s a lot easier to win in the NFL when you only have to muster up 16 points each week.
For every statistical category that Purdy is excelling in, there appears to be one that offsets it.
|Purdy’s 2023 Stats
|Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt
|Average Throw Depth
|1st (by a mile)
|Passing Total Points
Purdy is the league leader in completion percentage, ANY/A, and EPA. However, he ranks a little lower when it comes to on-target percentage, average throw depth, and Total Points.
The latter statistics separate the quarterback from his receivers more than the former group. He rates well, but maybe not MVP level.
In the end, the MVP award would need to be renamed if Purdy were to win. If you were to take Purdy out of the 49ers’ lineup and insert a replacement-level quarterback, this team is probably still a strong contender.
I challenge you to apply that same way of thinking to the Chiefs, Cowboys, and even the Texans (and we’ve got an article coming about Dak Prescott). Their quarterbacks do a lot more for their teams with less supporting talent. They are players you win because of, not players you simply win with.
Purdy is having a great year, but I wouldn’t say he’s the main reason for San Francisco’s success. The MVP award should be given to a player who carries his team to victory, not one whose teammates and coach are giving him a boost.