49ers’ ‘Mr. Irrelevant ‘Brock Purdy sees humor, opportunity in draft status

That question was posed Saturday night to Iowa State’s Brock Purdy, the best quarterback in school history, shortly after he became identifiable by many for being the bottom.

Mr. Big Time, the owner of 32 school records, had a new title, Mr. Irrelevant, after the 49ers made him the 262nd and final pick in the NFL Draft.

Purdy will be celebrated in June in Newport Beach, Orange County, during “Irrelevant Week,” an unofficial tradition dating back to 1976 in which the final choice is honored during several days of events that raise funds for charities. charities. At the showpiece affair, the Lowsman Banquet, Purdy will be roasted and awarded the Lowsman Trophy, which features a player on a fumble.

So back to the question: Can Purdy, who thought he could be selected until the fourth round, laugh at lasting until the final pick in the seventh round?

“I think it’s a funny thing,” Purdy said. “If you’re a fan or a friend of the family, it’s fun to laugh about. For me, I see it as an opportunity. A team believed in me and now I have the opportunity to play football. That’s what I want my career to be, my job. Now I have the opportunity to do so. That’s how I see it.

“From the outside, looking inside, yeah, I guess that’s a funny thing. I will embrace the role and have fun with it for sure. But, at the end of the day, I’m trying to help a team win a Super Bowl.

If Purdy seems a little ambivalent, he’s not alone. Paul Salata, the originator of “Irrelevant Week”, who died in October at 94, knew that not all winners were angry about being labeled immaterial.

“Not everyone thought it was the best thing in the world,” Salata told ESPN in 2013. “But they thanked us for acknowledging the underdog.”

It’s a label Purdy will fully embrace. When the four-year-old starter was asked about his 46 consecutive college starts on Saturday, he said he was proud of his toughness while describing himself as “gritty” and “cunning”. These qualities helped Purdy set school records for total offense (13,347 yards) and total touchdowns (100) despite his average height (6-0, 212 pounds) and arm strength.

Purdy felt the 49ers valued his leadership and “football IQ” based on his conversations with quarterbacks coach Brian Griese and QB assistant coach Klay Kubiak that began with a Zoom meeting about a month before the draft. .

“The guy has played a lot of football, plays the game the right way, is extremely tough, gets the ball in the right place,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He plays very well in the pocket and he’s a guy who can come here and help fill out this roster and give himself a chance to make a team.”

Shanahan said Purdy had a whiff of Raiders quarterback Nick Mullens, an undrafted free agent in 2017 who spent his four seasons with the 49ers. Mullens had the same full college resume — he was a four-year starter at Southern Miss — and a similar lack of pre-draft buzz due to his lack of height and arm strength.

Purdy “was a four-year-old starter, who played at a really high level in college and people want to know how he can do it at that level,” Shanahan said. “And that’s probably why we brought it to where we did.”

Purdy is the fourth quarterback on the 49ers roster, which still includes untraded Jimmy Garoppolo. Purdy is expected to serve in 2022 as the No. 3 quarterback, a developmental prospect behind Trey Lance and Nate Sudfeld who is spending his rookie season on the practice squad.

Purdy’s biography will forever include his last-choice status, but general manager John Lynch has made it clear he matters to his new team.

Says Lynch: “It’s relevant to us.”

Eric Branch covers the 49ers for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @Eric_Branch