49ers training camp is just around the corner, and one of the more intriguing battles to follow doesn’t even involve potential starters.
It’s snuck up on us a little bit, but training camp is inching closer for the San Francisco 49ers and the true beginning of preseason along with it.
The Niners will be more or less the same team that made the NFC Championship last season, except there’s a brand new starter at quarterback in Trey Lance.
With Jimmy Garoppolo destined to be traded or cut, both for salary cap reasons and to free Lance of any doubt that the keys to the franchise are being handed to him, the hunt for the backup quarterback role is on.
San Francisco has had to use backup quarterbacks relatively often in recent years due to Garoppolo’s injury woes. C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens and Lance himself have all filled in with varying degrees of success.
This year, the role will come down to journeyman Nate Sudfeld and the 2022 NFL Draft’s Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, neither of whom probably garner much in the way of enthusiasm from fans if either of them had to step in.
To be fair to Purdy, it’s an unknown how he’ll perform in the league. He can be best described as similar to Mullens as a quarterback, but with much better legs. His outlook in the NFL is admittedly limited, but he does at least possess the necessary skills to thrive in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system.
Sudfeld has thrown 37 passes in his NFL career and looks every bit the clipboard holder in the NFL. He hasn’t shown much at all one way or the other. He didn’t impress at all in organized team activities, and it could be argued Purdy might already be the better prospect.
If it falls to one of these two to potentially salvage the 49ers’ season in the event of an injury to Lance, it’s tough to know what might happen. The Niners didn’t pursue a veteran to join the ranks, and the only veteran they have on the roster is due to be traded or released soon.
All eyes will be on these two when they compete against each other in training camp. If both struggle to throw the ball, the team will really need to consider bringing in a seasoned veteran.
Cam Newton making a visit to San Francisco? Wishful thinking for now, but fans shouldn’t be averse to them making the call to him or another steady hand at the position if worse comes to worse.