From Mr. Irrelevant to Offensive Rookie of the Year. Brock Purdy has had an extraordinary year.
Purdy, the 49ers quarterback who started the season as the third-stringer, and ended up in the playoffs, is PFT’s pick for the NFL’s 2022 offensive rookie of the year.
Just a few months ago, most football fans didn’t know who Purdy was, or if they did it was only because he earned the “Mr. Irrelevant” label as the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft. But after both starter Trey Lance and backup Jimmy Garoppolo went down, the 49ers had no choice but to turn to Purdy. And he was outstanding.
When Lance was lost in Week Two, the 49ers appeared to still be in good shape because they had Garoppolo, who led them to the NFC Championship Game a year ago. But when Garoppolo went down with six games to go, many expected the 49ers to collapse. Instead, the 49ers went 6-0 with Purdy, and he didn’t just manage, he thrived: Purdy actually averaged more yards per pass than either Garoppolo or Lance and had a higher passer rating than either Garoppolo or Lance.
Not only do the 49ers not miss their top two quarterbacks, they may actually be better positioned to win the Super Bowl with Purdy than they would have been with either Garoppolo or Lance. That makes Purdy our choice for offensive rookie of the year.
But Purdy isn’t the only offensive rookie who’s worthy of recognition this season. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett wasn’t quite as effective as Purdy, but he also played very well for a first-year quarterback. The Jets’ Garrett Wilson was an impressive receiving threat in an offense that didn’t have a good quarterback to throw him the ball. Saints receiver Chris Olave and Packers receiver Christian Watson both had flashes of greatness. Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce was a bright spot on a bad team. And Chargers left tackle Jamaree Salyer, a sixth-round pick who wasn’t expected to start as a rookie, ended up playing every snap from Week Four on and stabilizing a Chargers offensive line that could have collapsed after Rashawn Slater went down.