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Super Bowl: Who is 'Mr Irrelevant'? And why could he win the NFL's biggest prize?

When NFL teams pick college players in the yearly draft, the last pick of the last round is given a rather unwanted nickname - "Mr Irrelevant".

The title even comes with its own trophy of a fumbling NFL player, a comedy roasting from retired stars, and a free holiday to California's Newport Beach.

It is a tongue-in-cheek joke aimed at celebrating the underdog, because any player privileged to be drafted is, by their very nature, talented enough to make the NFL - even if only just.

Behind the joke, however, is what many would consider a throwaway draft pick and an indication that NFL scouts see a bench warmer, rather than a future superstar.

However, one Mr Irrelevant could be about to banish his title in the most dramatic of ways, by leading his team to the NFL's biggest prize.

That man is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, who on Sunday night led his side to the NFC title and a Super Bowl showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas.

'Not a very good athlete'

In contrast to his Kansas City counterpart Patrick Mahomes - a first-round pick in 2017 - Purdy was selected in the seventh round of the 2022 draft as the 262nd overall pick, becoming that year's Mr Irrelevant.

Despite a winning record of 29-17 across his four years in college at Iowa State, Purdy was overlooked by NFL scouts.

One team even considered him "not a very good athlete" with a "limited arm both in strength and throw repertoire," according to The Athletic, quoting a leaked scout report.

Purdy would start his career in San Francisco as a third-string quarterback, behind Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo.

However, injuries would thrust the Arizonan into the spotlight in his debut season.

Two touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins would make him the first Mr Irrelevant to score a touchdown in a regular season game.

The following week, he would guide his team to victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then led by the legendary quarterback Tom Brady - himself a sixth-round pick.

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Purdy would lead his team to the NFC West title in his debut season and into the NFL's knock-out stages - known as the post-season - becoming the lowest-drafted quarterback to start and win a playoff game.

An injury would hamper his performance in the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, which the 49ers lost 31-7.

Leading the league

The 24-year-old managed to recover for the start of the 2023 season, leading San Francisco to five consecutive wins, before a narrow loss to the Cleveland Browns.

A blip in form followed before the 49ers bounced back, ending the season with 14 wins and five defeats, and a second consecutive NFC West title.

Despite struggling against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional game, Purdy managed a late touchdown throw to Christian McCaffrey to advance to his second consecutive NFC Championship game.

This time, Purdy's 49ers would come from 24-7 behind at half-time against the Detroit Lions to win 34-31 and book a place in Super Bowl LVIII.

Mr Relevant

If he guides his team to victory, Purdy will become the first Mr Irrelevant to win a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback - a crucial role in an NFL team's offensive unit.

He will follow in the footsteps of Marty Moore, who as a special teams player became the first player to play and win in a Super Bowl, and kicker Ryan Succop, who became the second.

It would be a considerable turnaround from June 2022, when Purdy, on his free holiday to Newport Beach stood gracefully, a smile on his face, as former NFL players roasted and toasted him as the new Mr Irrelevant.

"Just to be able to see the calibre of these guys and the resumes and their careers and what they've done - honestly [to] listen to the advice they were giving, for me, [I'm] very thankful for that," he said after.

Since then, Purdy has broken records, proved doubters wrong, and even banished his nickname.

He has a new one among 49ers these days - Mr Relevant - one that will become even more apt should he guide his side to Super Bowl victory on 11 February.