Before Brock Purdy could become the quarterback of the 49ers, he had to become a member of the 49ers. He became a member of the 49ers through the last pick of the draft.
And he became the last pick of the draft with an assist from 49ers co-chair Dr. John York.
Coach Kyle Shanahan explained to Peter King in his Football Morning in America column that a jolt of clarity came from ownership, when the time came to make the final pick in the 2022 draft.
"The pick’s coming up and I remember [Dr. York] asking, ‘Who’s the best player out there?’ I go, ‘Well, there’s no doubt Purdy’s the best player.’ He goes, ‘Then what are we talking about?’ I was like, ‘Well, there’s other spots. Also, we might be able to get him as a free agent for $10,000 after the draft.’ Dr. York can’t believe it. He’s looking at me like, I don’t get why there’s discussion if you guys think he’s the best player.
Shanahan had a fourth-round grade on Purdy. But the team had other needs. Those needs took a backseat once Dr. York chimed in.
“Then it gets closer," Shanahan said. "I’m also getting the feeling we’re not getting Purdy as a free agent because there are so many other teams who are going to try to sign him. He wasn’t coming to us. He’s told me since then he was signing somewhere else. I said in the room, ‘Let’s not risk it. This guy’s too good.'"
Purdy said during the season that he might have signed with the Vikings if the 49ers hadn't picked him. Regardless of what he would have done, the 49ers would not have had dibs.
This shows the potential value of an owner who can, at the right moment, help his football people see things more clearly. Not because York developed an affinity for Purdy because York isn't trained or experienced in scouting players, but because he applied basic common sense to a problem his football people had.
They needed someone to get them to realize what the obvious decision was. At the perfect time, York helped them do it. That's an example of how owners can find a sweet spot where their wisdom and experience can be helpful to those who know how to build a football team far better than the owners do.