Analysis: McCaffrey and Purdy finish 3-4 for AP NFL MVP but Super Bowl is the bigger prize

Fri, Feb 9, 2024
NFL News (AP)

Analysis: McCaffrey and Purdy finish 3-4 for AP NFL MVP but Super Bowl is the bigger prize

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Brock Purdy wanted Christian McCaffrey to win the AP NFL MVP award and vice versa. It went to Lamar Jackson.

Getting the Vince Lombardi Trophy will be the bigger prize.

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The two San Francisco 49ers stars finished third and fourth in MVP voting, respectively, behind the Baltimore Ravens quarterback and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. They both have a shot at winning the Super Bowl MVP award if the 49ers beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

McCaffrey was selected on 44 of 50 ballots and finished five points behind Prescott. Purdy was named on 39 ballots and ended up a distant fourth, 50 points behind McCaffrey.

"It is unusual," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said about having two finalists. "I think to get to where we have been, to where we've gotten and to do it at the level we've had, you should have some players. I know we've got some defensive guys up for some awards, too, but having both of those guys in the run and the pass game where Christian does them both - and really Brock's done them both - they've both been unbelievable and the biggest parts of our offense."

Jackson was a near-unanimous choice for his second MVP award, getting 49 first-place votes. One voter placed him third behind Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Prescott. Allen finished in fifth place.

Jackson led the Ravens to the AFC's No. 1 seed but they lost to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the conference championship game. The MVP award is based on the regular season and voters must submit their ballots before the playoffs start.

McCaffrey won the AP Offensive Player of the Year award.

"That's one of the most respectable guys I've ever played with," Purdy said about the running back. "The way he rehabs, the way he recovers after games, what he eats and his training sessions, he goes hard in everything that he does. He's very (intentional) with everything that he does throughout his day, his schedule. He's a true professional, and if there's a guy that you want to model, it's that guy. ... Obviously we traded for him halfway thorough the season last year, but still, Day 1 when he got here, I was like, 'OK, this guy's different.' He's fighting and clawing. He can do everything - run the ball, catch the ball.

"He's not all about himself. He's about the team. He obviously stands for good things in life and has got great morals, but that's the kind of guy you want to go to war with, and he's got your back."

The admiration is mutual.

"He's the leader of this team," McCaffrey said about Purdy. "Everything starts with him. He's one of the best players I've ever played with, and to be able to do it just in his second year, I think, what he's done, if you look at the numbers, and you didn't put his name at it, you would be in awe."

For whatever reason, Purdy has plenty of critics despite his numbers. Cam Newton called him a "game manager" and other former players-turned-analysts seem to enjoy looking for ways to discredit Purdy.

Perhaps it's because he was selected with the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft. Maybe, he's too humble for some people's liking.

Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe told the AP it annoys him that some folks want to anoint Purdy an "elite" quarterback already. Sharpe is right. It's too soon to call him elite but it's foolish to say he's a "system quarterback."

Purdy broke a franchise record for the most passing yards in a single season with 4,280. He threw 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, completed nearly 70% of his passes and led the NFL in passer rating with 113.0, averaging 9.6 yards per attempt.

"If he wins the Super Bowl, now we have to have a serious discussion where we rank him," Sharpe said. "If he beats Patrick Mahomes, do I think he's better than Patrick Mahomes? No, but I think a lot of people are gonna go back and say based on what he's done his first two years, we have to have a discussion about him absolutely being elite and I don't have a problem having that discussion."

Purdy doesn't care what analysts, critics or anyone thinks of him.

"I want to do what it takes to help my team win," Purdy said. "And so, I think winning at the end of the day in the NFL is probably the biggest and most important thing."

Winning the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal. Purdy and McCaffrey have their shot coming up after falling short in the MVP race.

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi

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ROB MAADDI Maaddi is senior NFL writer for The Associated Press. He's covered the league for 24 years, including the first two decades as the Eagles beat writer. mailto "
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