49ers news: Trey Lance, not Brock Purdy now poised to start in 2023
By Peter Panacy
Brock Purdy’s play down the stretch might have sealed the 49ers’ starting job in 2023 over Trey Lance, but injuries and delays have now cast their votes.
In the immediate aftermath of the San Francisco 49ers’ 2022 campaign and subsequent exit in the playoffs at the hand of the Philadelphia Eagles, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport told NBC Sports Bay Area that the Niners’ starting job in 2023 was all but handed to then-rookie quarterback Brock Purdy.
Not the signal-caller San Francisco had originally envisioned to be the cornerstone of the franchise, Trey Lance.
Lance, of course, missed all but two games in 2022 with a broken ankle suffered in Week 2, while Purdy’s reputation exploded after veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered his own season-ending foot injury in Week 13.
Quite the journey for the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Iowa State.
“I expect it to be Brock Purdy because there’s nothing else to me he would need to prove,” Rapoport said when asked about who would start for the 49ers next season.
Garoppolo, a pending free agent who isn’t likely to return, will soon be out of the picture.
However, that’s not the only X-factor that’s working its way into the Niners’ provocative quarterback situation this offseason.
Brock Purdy surgery delayed, 49ers may have no other choice but to start Trey Lance
Lance already admitted he was close to returning from the devastating ankle injury suffered last September. Assuming all goes well, he’ll be cleared for San Francisco’s offseason programs, such as organized team activities and minicamps, before training camp begins in the middle of summer.
Purdy, meanwhile, suffered that elbow injury during the NFC Championship game. Dealing with a UCL tear, the latest reports about his surgery and subsequent recovery time aren’t necessarily great.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Purdy would delay surgery on his throwing elbow on the recommendation of his physician, who wanted to allow the inflammation to decrease:
In the best case, Purdy would still be ready to throw by training camp. Even then, though, he’d miss out on offseason workouts.
That’s advantageous for Lance, who had otherwise lost his starting gig to the upstart rookie.
49ers must prepare offense as if Trey Lance was the full-time starter
Fans and analysts can get cute in determining whether or not head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense is different with either Lance or Purdy under center.
There are unquestionable differences, yes, but the whole nature of the system wouldn’t be grossly different.
The chemistry with receiving targets, offensive lines and units, however, could be massively different between the two quarterbacks.
Quoting Zain Naqvi of 49ers Webzone’s No Huddle Podcast, Shanahan and the 49ers have to prepare themselves as if Lance was the unquestioned starter heading into 2023, if for no other reason than Purdy might not be close to 100 percent and fully ready:
"So I think that the fair thing to do for the 49ers is to prepare as if Trey is going to be starting for a week or two while Brock is still getting his legs under him and his arm into game shape. Because, look, it’s not just about rehab. It’s also about getting your arm into game shape and being able to handle the rigors of a full season."
Putting things bluntly, Purdy’s throwing arm will need plenty of conditioning once the surgery is complete and healed.
Meanwhile, Lance will be wanting to use that opportunity to finally cement himself as the full-time starter in the Bay Area.