Near the end of Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan retired starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and sent rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. The Chiefs had a 21-point lead with less than four minutes remaining, and it was time to clear the bench a bit.
Moments later, the rookie quarterback would achieve an NFL milestone.
Purdy completed his first NFL pass attempt, becoming the first “Mr. Irrelevant” in NFL history to complete a pass in an NFL regular season game.
The 49ers drafted Purdy in the seventh round last spring, from Iowa State, and named him “Mr. Irrelevant,” the title given to the bottom pick in every NFL draft. Since 1976, when former NFL wide receiver Paul Salata created “Irrelevant Week,” there have been six quarterbacks drafted last overall, including Purdy: Randy Essington, Larry Wanke, Ronnie McAda, Chandler Harnish, Chad Kelly and Purdy. The Baltimore Colts drafted George Haffner in the 20th round of the 1965 draft, prior to the title of “Mr. Irrelevant” was recognized.
As of Sunday, none of those players had completed a pass in the NFL. Kelly has appeared in nine CFL games this season for the Toronto Argonauts and has completed two of his four passes.
All that changed with this play in the fourth quarter:
As baseball writer Christina Kahrl noted, Purdy made history with the completion, in the first try of his NFL career:
He did it, @scottostler : Brock Purdy completed a forward pass on his first attempt no less, becoming the first Mr. Irrelevant in NFL history to do so.
— Cristina Kahrl (@ChristinaKahrl) October 23, 2022
Unfortunately for Purdy, although his first NFL drive began with a completion, it ended with an interception.
But the fact that Purdy accomplished this feat speaks volumes about the preseason he delivered for the 49ers, as he earned a roster spot during training camp. In August, when the 49ers reached a new deal with Jimmy Garoppolo, Shanahan said he was comfortable with Purdy as the team’s backup, given his performance during the preseason:
If Jimmy Garoppolo hadn’t taken the pay cut to stay on the team, the 49ers would have walked away with Brock Purdy as their No. 2, Kyle Shanahan said.
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) August 30, 2022
So it looks like Purdy’s NFL career could last a lot longer than the careers of the other quarterbacks who won the “Mr. Irrelevant” title. But for Purdy, his career has already made NFL history.