Deion Sanders knows what makes a good story.
He turned Colorado — a one-win team in 2022 — into the hub of college football for the opening weeks of his first season with the Buffaloes, attracting celebrities and recruits and pregame shows to Boulder.
Before that, he built up Jackson State’s program, clinched an undefeated regular season and secured consecutive appearances in the Celebration Bowl.
But the former professional defensive back and MLB outfielder thinks that Brock Purdy has emerged as the best NFL story in at least 20 years, with the former Mr. Irrelevant guiding the 49ers to Super Bowl 2024 — and a date with the Chiefs on Sunday in Las Vegas — in just his first full season as San Francisco’s starter.
“Everybody in America has a title, whether you agree with it or not,” Sanders said of Purdy during an appearance Thursday on ESPN’s “First Take.”
“They give us a title. This kid is the best story probably that has been over two decades. Coming from, what, the last player taken to in the Super Bowl and lead his team to the Super Bowl because of his play.
“I love this kid. I mean, shoot, I’m looking for a Brock Purdy.”
Sanders then jokingly apologized because he “can’t recruit” with the NCAA in a dead period.
Purdy’s underdog story dates back to Iowa State, where he became the Cyclones’ starter midway through his freshman season and led them to a bowl game.
He remained in that spot for the next three seasons and then joined the 49ers — behind Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance on the depth chart — as the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.
But injuries to both of those quarterbacks led to Purdy finishing San Francisco’s Week 12 win and then starting for the rest of the season, not losing a start until an elbow injury — that ultimately required offseason surgery — prevented him from throwing in the NFC Championship game.
This year, Purdy proved that improbable stretch wasn’t a fluke.
He threw for 4,280 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 69.4 percent of his passes during the regular season — helping the 49ers secure the NFC’s No. 1 seed, which allowed them to host, and win, playoff games against the Packers and Lions.
“Obviously last year, I played seven, eight games, whatever that was, and it was all good, but it wasn’t a whole season,” Purdy told reporters this week, “so there was a lot of questions. So for me, it was, ‘Alright, I still gotta go out there and prove to myself I can do this and to my team that I can be the guy.’”
But the ultimate test, against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Super Bowl 2024, will likely be his most daunting task yet.
If Purdy finds a way to secure the 49ers’ sixth Super Bowl title, it’ll only add to his legacy as a 24-year-old making just $870,000 this season.
And that, according to Sanders, is a great story.