Brock Purdy: I had to earn a spot on the 49ers offence; I wasn't handed the keys.

First-round draft selections are sometimes named the franchise quarterback of a team without having to prove it. It's not like that for Mr. Irrelevant.

The final choice of the 2022 NFL draft and quarterback for the 49ers, Brock Purdy, stated that after moving up from third to first string in his rookie season, he has had to earn everything.

"The keys weren't just given to me or anything, it had to be earned," Purdy said. "Coming in Day One, just trying to learn Kyle's system, his playbook, and earn the respect of my teammates. over time I've been able to step into that role and be ready for my opportunity. At the same time, I have a lot of help around me, and it's allowed me to develop, and I'm going to continue to develop with the help and the cast I have around me."

Despite leading his club to the NFC Championship Game in his rookie season and now to the Super Bowl in his second, Purdy believes his growth as a quarterback is far from over.

"There's a lot more room for me to grow," Purdy said.

For the teams that will be playing Purdy and the 49ers for years to come, that is a frightening idea.

'First-ballot Hall of Famer' Travis Kelce is praised by George Kittle.

49ers tight end from San Francisco Before their Super Bowl clash this weekend, George Kittle had some nice things to say about his opponent, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

George Kittle #85 speaks to media during San Francisco 49ers media availability ahead of <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/02/07/1171573-top-five-super-bowls-of-all-time.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/02/07/1171573-top-five-super-bowls-of-all-time.html'>Super Bowl</a></strong> LVIII at Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa on February 08, 2024 in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 speaks to media during San Francisco 49ers media availability ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa on February 08, 2024 in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

Kittle has been battling with a toe ailment, but he said the condition was "no concern," so it looks like he will play Kelce in Las Vegas on Sunday.

And Kittle had nothing but praise for the two-time Super Bowl champion as he prepared to take on him on the grandest platform in the NFL.  

'I'm a huge fan of Travis Kelce and the fact I've been able to become friends with him, peers with him, run Tight End (University) with him, just get to know him, it's been awesome,' Kittle said.

'For someone I've looked up to, looked up to his game, watched so much of his film. Anything that he says is nice about you; it feels great.

'He's a fantastic football player. He's probably a first-ballot Hall of Famer. So anything you can get from Travis Kelce, it's awesome. And the fact you're friends too, it makes it a little bit sweeter as well.' 

Given that Kelce and Kittle are probably the best tight ends of their generation, it seems possible that both will be inducted into the Hall of Fame when they finally hang up their cleats.

Kittle also launched into an impassioned tirade against the WWE storyline involving The Rock, Cody Rhodes, and Roman Reigns, which has been on the minds of many wrestling fans, during his pre-Super Bowl media availability.

'We're starting hot and I love it, that is the question I've been wanting,' said Kittle when asked about the controversy surrounding The Rock. 'It's fun you see everything online and everyone's talking about '#WeWantCody' or it's Roman and the Rock.

'You know what I'm a huge Cody Rhodes fan. I like Roman Reigns. The Rock... aye, he coined the term 'The People's Tight End,' so I'm indebted to The Rock. Huge fan of his.

'Honestly, my dream would be kind of a set-up. Roman shows up - I saw this online - Roman shows up, and signs a contract. Cody's on the other side, the Rock referees. Wouldn't that be fun and special? That's not my idea but I thought it was very cool.'

Not concerned about Super Bowl LVIII storylines is Kyle Shanahan

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan isn't wasting any time considering what winning or losing Super Bowl LVIII will mean for him or the discussions that have surrounded his first seven seasons in charge. Shanahan has another opportunity to break through and win his first Lombardi Trophy in a few days.

Head coach <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/01/27/1170185-49ers-vs-lions-nfc-championship-game-preview.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/01/27/1170185-49ers-vs-lions-nfc-championship-game-preview.html'>Kyle Shanahan</a></strong> speaks to media during San Francisco 49ers media availability ahead of <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/01/29/1170426-nfc-championship-game-49ers-overcome-17-point-deficit-to-reach-their-second-super-bowl-under-kyle-shanahan.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/01/29/1170426-nfc-championship-game-49ers-overcome-17-point-deficit-to-reach-their-second-super-bowl-under-kyle-shanahan.html'>Super Bowl</a></strong> LVIII at Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa on February 08, 2024 in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan speaks to media during San Francisco 49ers media availability ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa on February 08, 2024 in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

 

Inquiring about how losing to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday would reinforce the belief that he, as the head coach of the Niners for Super Bowl LIV and two NFC titles and the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl LI run, cannot win the biggest game of them all, Shanahan was questioned on Thursday afternoon in the 49ers hotel's basement.

"I deal with it the same way if we win," Shanahan said. "I celebrate with our team. I celebrate with my family and I move on with the rest of my life, which is being a father or son and coaching and working and doing all that. Narrative, good or bad, is just a narrative ... I just don't want regrets. I just want to do everything that makes sense to myself, and that makes sense for our team. And when you do that, that's what I have found.

"No matter how hard something is or good something is, you always keep perspective of what it is. If you want your perspective to be someone else's narrative, good luck being happy in life. Or successful."

It's no secret by now that Shanahan and the Niners have spent the better part of the last five years circling the door of a Super Bowl victory. Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took over a struggling team that had only won two games the year before in 2017. Shanahan was San Francisco's fourth coach in as many years at the time of his hiring.

The Niners made it to the Super Bowl in year three following a couple of trying rebuilding years. However, at the end of the 2019–20 season, they gave away a 10-point lead to the Chiefs in the fourth quarter. The Niners have missed out on the Super Bowl the last two years; in the NFC Championship Game of 2021, they gave up a late lead to the Los Angeles Rams, and in the following year, they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles despite missing much of the game with a healthy quarterback.

Some have started drawing comparisons between Shanahan and Kansas City coach Andy Reid because the Chiefs are playing the Chiefs this week. After leading the Eagles to five NFC championships and a Super Bowl, Reid never received his first Lombardi Trophy until, ironically, their victory over the Niners in Super Bowl LIV, his 21st season as head coach.

Despite only being in his sixth season as a coach, Shanahan, 44, is seen as one of the greatest in the game. Linebackers coach Johnny Holland, who has spent the most time with Shanahan, understands what it would take for him to make a breakthrough on Sunday.

"He's been in this situation before," Holland said. "Kyle is one of the best head coaches I've been around and one of the things that he's missing that'll probably help him be that Hall of Fame-type coach is a championship. You've got to win it. And so, we want to win it for us and him."

Many within the organisation agree with Holland, attributing the franchise's longest run of continuous success since the early 1990s to Shanahan's creation of a winning culture. Since 2019, San Francisco has lost fewer games overall (including regular season and postseason) than only the Chiefs.

Making a tiny amount of history would also be Shanahan winning a Super Bowl. If they prevailed, he and his father Mike would become the only father-son head coaching team in NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB history to win a championship. As the head coach of the Denver Broncos in the late 1990s, Mike Shanahan won back-to-back Super Bowls.

Niners tight end Shanahan's first draft class in San Francisco included George Kittle, who would be thrilled to see that accomplishment realised.

"One thing that makes it cool for me to play for Kyle is that he has an insane relationship with his dad, kind of like I have with my dad," Kittle said. "For his dad to have won multiple Super Bowls, I think for Kyle to be able to share that moment with his dad is something that I think would be one of the coolest things ever."

Despite all that is at stake Sunday, Shanahan stated on Thursday that he never forgets that just one NFL team is genuinely satisfied after each season. Shanahan expressed his like for his team's prospects of winning, but he also stated that he could not waste time thinking about what would be said about him and his group after the game.

"When I think of legacy, I think of my dad," Shanahan said. "I still feel like I'm somewhat young and it just doesn't work that with me. And I don't think it works that way with a lot of people. You're just trying to win that game and that game is always the next one. Finally, we're in a game where this is the last one of the year. And these are the ones that count. So, you understand that. You're aware of that ... Hopefully, when the game is over, you can sit back and think about that stuff and enjoy it."

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About the author
Johnathan Stack
32, from London. Editor of VAVEL USA - NBA, UEFA, FA, WSL, World Snooker Tour & 2022 Commonwealth Games accredited Sports Journalist.