Latest 49ers news on Brock Purdy spells doom for Trey Lance

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (L) and Brock Purdy (R)
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (L) and Brock Purdy (R) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Brock Purdy isn't just on track to be healthy by Week 1, but the latest news suggests the 49ers have already anointed him over Trey Lance as the starter.

If third-year quarterback Trey Lance wants to become a superstar, either one of two things will have to happen.

Fellow San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy will have to flame out or suffer an injury, or Lance will have to go somewhere else.

You should know the story by now. In case you didn't, here's the (very) brief overview. Lance, the No. 3 overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, played backup his rookie season to then-starter Jimmy Garoppolo before being tabbed as the Niners' cornerstone starter in 2022, only to suffer a season-ending foot injury in Week 2, which led to Garoppolo starting again until he suffered his own injury, and that led to Purdy taking over late in 2022.

Purdy was pretty good, right? Yes. Except he suffered a torn UCL in the NFC Championship game, leaving the door wide open for Lance to reassert himself as San Francisco's star starter.

Particularly with Purdy sidelined almost all offseason in the wake of the injury and subsequent surgery. Even though the 49ers inked another No. 3 overall pick, Sam Darnold, Lance has an excellent shot to regain the momentum he once had not long after being drafted in 2021.

Except it doesn't appear as if things are going to work out in his favor after all.

Latest report says 49ers can expect Brock Purdy back before Week 1, which isn't good news for Trey Lance

Part of the initial assessment in the wake of Purdy's surgery back in early March was that he could potentially miss all of training camp, the preseason and perhaps a few weeks into the regular season.

However, subsequent reports have suggested the recovery timeline could be significantly shortened, perhaps opening up the door for Purdy to be ready to go by the start of the regular season, which is what head coach Kyle Shanahan is hoping for.

"We’re hoping for Week 1 and I feel pretty optimistic about that," Shanahan told reporters from organized team activities last month.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, it appears as if Purdy is ahead of schedule:

"If his road to a full recovery stays true to the 12-week timeframe, [Purdy] would receive full medical clearance to play football around Aug. 21 -- or 20 days before the start of the 2023 NFL season."

If that's the case, Lance has almost zero chance to showcase his talents during a meaningful game.

And there's more, too, working against Lance.

49ers seem to crown Brock Purdy as their starter, not Trey Lance

With all due respect to Darnold, the QB1 job is going down between Purdy and Lance.

Yet it appears as if the Niners have already made up their minds with regard to the winner, and it's not Lance.

Maiocco went on to describe how San Francisco's brass has already crowned Purdy as the locker room favorite, adding further evidence that boasts Purdy's proven success in the regular season and playoffs.

Whereas Lance still has the "what could be" X-factor, Purdy has "been there, done that." And a quote that Maiocco shared from Shanahan is awfully telling, too:

"“We know what we have [in Purdy],” Shanahan said last month. “I truly believe in my heart what Trey can be. It still takes time, and you've got to go do it. In the meantime, we have a guy sitting here who already has done it. That’s a very good thing for the Niners.”"

The second to last sentence above tells a lot. "We have a guy sitting here who already has done it."

Translated, that's essentially Shanahan endorsing Purdy as the starter, not Lance. And if you combine that with comments from general manager John Lynch earlier this offseason, it appears as if the 49ers are unified in believing it's Purdy's job to lose.

Read more: John Lynch endorses Brock Purdy as 49ers starting QB

Not Lance's to gain.

What's next for Trey Lance, 49ers?

As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport pointed out during the 2023 NFL Draft, it'd be pretty awkward for the Niners to keep Lance as a third-string quarterback behind Purdy and Darnold.

That is, of course, assuming Darnold wins the QB2 role over Lance.

Either way, San Francisco could keep Lance rostered with the understanding that his trade value only diminishes with each passing week. Or, as Rapoport also noted, the 49ers could look to move Lance to a quarterback-needy team later this summer, perhaps a squad that either watched its starter suffer some sort of serious injury or flame out beyond expectations.

Still, the glaring point is that it seems Lance's chance of becoming a superstar for the Niners is nearly evaporated.

And the only realistic choice left for the superstardom to happen for the former No. 3 overall draft choice is to move on... somehow.

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