The San Francisco 49ers have had no shortage of great quarterbacks. Joe Montana and Steve Young are two of the best to do it. Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick took the reins in the early 2010s. In the 2020s, the Niners belong to Brock Purdy.
Purdy and his and the Niners’ success this season has been remarkable, especially for ‘Mr. Irrelevant.’ But depending on who you ask, the 49ers are either pushed by the team loaded with All-Pros and Pro Bowlers, by superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, or by Purdy himself. Much has been made over his abilities and where he stands in the league.
On Up & Adams this week, longtime Fox NFL Sunday analyst Howie Long, a Pro Football Hall of Famer himself, joined host Kay Adams. Long had plenty to say on Tuesday’s episode, which eventually centered around Purdy. The Hall of Famer Long provided an interesting response to all the noise around the 49ers quarterback this season.
“And Brock… it seems like he’s like the Cowboys or Notre Dame,” Long said. “You either hate him, or you love him. It seems like it’s 50/50 down the middle.”
"Brock (Purdy) is like the Cowboys or Notre Dame… you either hate him or you love him." ?
— Up & Adams (@UpAndAdamsShow) February 1, 2024
“It’s like blue cheese or cilantro,” Adams responded. “He’s the most polarizing. For what reason, I don’t quite understand other than he’s in a great system, has great weapons. Like we’re taking that away.”
More from Long:
“A lot of teams–a lot of quarterbacks are in systems and have great weapons. I’m not sure what the visceral response is to him. I don’t understand it. He’s shown me, really, the point is he’s shown the ability at the end of games–which really is what defines quarterbacks–at the end of games to make big plays. And I’m happy for him,” Long said.
It’s not necessarily a “unique” discussion, but one that does paint around a lot of biases. The 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFL. The team features playmakers everywhere on both offense and defense.
San Francisco’s quarterbacks under Kyle Shanahan aren’t asked to do what some of the league’s most prolific quarterbacks do. You won’t see Brock Purdy airing it out 40, 45, or especially not 50 times a game. They have a game plan.
But part of what makes the NFL and sports so unique are those different styles. Nuance is hard to come by nowadays, but you can appreciate what Purdy’s done. It’s an improbable story that isn’t complete yet. Just because the 49ers, who were already abundant with talent anyway, drafted him and later deployed him doesn’t mean he can’t be judged fairly.
If there’s one thing to be pedantic about? No disrespect to the Hall of Famer Long, but comparing a 49er to a Cowboy is bold. Dallas and San Francisco have been rivals since the 1970s. They played in two of the most consequential NFC Championship Games in history. At the height of the rivalry, it’s possible that the 49ers were the Cowboys’ arch-nemesis and vice versa.
Notre Dame is fine. Joe Montana quarterbacked the Fighting Irish. But the Cowboys? Let’s workshop that. The point is clear. But maybe the Lakers would have been more ideal here.