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San Francisco 49ers Pro Football Hall of Fame selection Patrick Willis played alongside quarterback Colin Kaepernick when Kaepernick helped the 2012 Niners complete a trip to Super Bowl XLVII. 

Willis explained on the latest edition of the “RG3 and the Ones” podcast why he’d choose the 2012 version of Kaepernick over what Brock Purdy was this past season as Purdy guided the 49ers to Super Bowl LVIII. 

“A lot of people can go back and [nitpick] towards what it looked like towards his last couple years and whatnot with the Niners, or his last year with the Niners,” Willis said about Kaepernick, as shared by David Bonilla of 49ers WebZone and Andrew Gould of The Spun. “He did what he needed to do. It may not have been in a way that—in a traditional quarterback throwing way, but, man, him, you (Robert Griffin III), you guys were something electrifying.”

It’s worth noting that directly comparing the two signal-callers who experienced Super Bowl defeats during the discussed seasons is not entirely fair. Kaepernick replaced Alex Smith in 2012 and went 5-2 across seven regular-season starts. Purdy, meanwhile, entered this past September as San Francisco’s undisputed QB1 and then had to deal with criticisms claiming he was merely a “game manager” throughout the fall, even as he temporarily sat as the betting favorite to claim Most Valuable Player honors. 

According to ESPN stats, Purdy ended the 2023 regular season leading the league among qualified players with a 72.8 adjusted QBR, a 113.0 passer rating and an average of 9.6 yards per pass attempt. The final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft was third with 31 touchdown passes, fourth with a 69.4% completion percentage and fifth with 4,280 passing yards. 

Willis acknowledged during the conversation that taking Kaepernick over Purdy was a “tough decision” because the former linebacker has the quarterbacks at “1A and 1B.” While Willis’ take is fair, his comments seemingly serve as the latest reminder that Purdy may need to produce even better numbers next season to prove that he deserves to be mentioned among the “game-changing” players at the sport’s most important position.





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