The San Francisco 49ers have one of the most complicated quarterback situations in the NFL. However, general manager John Lynch provided some clarity during his news conference at the NFL owners’ meetings on Monday.
“I think Brock Purdy has earned the right with the way he played that he’s probably the leader in the clubhouse at that … if we were to line up, he’d probably take that first snap,” Lynch told reporters.
Purdy became one of the NFL’s most notable stories last season, as he went from being the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship game. However, he suffered a torn UCL during the championship game, which required surgery this offseason. Purdy was set to have surgery on Feb. 22, but inflammation in his elbow forced the team to push back the procedure to March 10.
Previous reporting indicates Purdy likely opted for a “repair” and not a full “reconstruction.” The repair typically comes with a six-month recovery, which could have Purdy ready to return to action by September.
With Purdy becoming the 49ers’ starter next season, that leaves Trey Lance as the backup. Lance began the 2022 season as the team’s starter, but he suffered a broken ankle in September, causing him to miss most of the season. The 49ers have a significant amount of capital and money invested in Lance since the team traded up to No. 3 overall to select him in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Mike Martz, an analyst for The 33rd Team, believes Lance still has a long way to go in his development compared to Purdy.
“The speed of the game, handling information and retaining it, and then being able to apply it on the field instantly — as Purdy does — it’s just not there for Lance,” Martz said. “It’s the hardest thing to do for a quarterback in the NFL. And then how calm is he under the gun? Some guys just aren’t able to do it. They buckle under pressure, even with good players around them. That’s what I see in Lance.”
The 49ers also signed Sam Darnold to a one-year, $4.5 million contract. Darnold has struggled throughout his five NFL seasons, but he led the Carolina Panthers to a 4-2 record in six starts last season.