49ers should relish drama-free quarterback situation entering 2024

When was the last time the Niners had true quarterback stability going into any new season?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (L) and head coach Kyle Shanahan (R)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (L) and head coach Kyle Shanahan (R) / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

It's been years since the 49ers haven't had major question marks at quarterback, meaning 2024 should be much more relaxing an offseason.

The San Francisco 49ers should be thanking quarterback Brock Purdy for a lot of reasons.

For starters, Purdy has emerged as one of the NFL's top young talents at the position, helping drive the Niners to consecutive NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, setting a number of records along the way.

More importantly, however, Purdy has given San Francisco stability at the position.

It's a factor head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch haven't exactly had since taking over the franchise back in 2017.

Despite the reality that Purdy will command a lucrative contract extension when 2025 rolls around, the 49ers no longer have to worry that much about who'll be their long-term answer under center. That alone is a fact worth recognizing, easing the Niners' minds and allowing them to focus on other pressing needs instead.

It hasn't always been this way. In fact, it's almost entirely been an annual tradition of heavy quarterback drama and scrutiny.

49ers have had nothing but quarterback drama since 2017

Let's go through each season and briefly evaluate what San Francisco's quarterback situation was since Shanahan and Lynch took over.

  • 2017: 49ers pass on drafting a quarterback in Round 1, opting to go with perennial backup journeyman Brian Hoyer and then-rookie C.J. Beathard, drafted in Round 3. Both QBs struggle, leading to the Niners trading for former New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
  • 2018: Garoppolo signs a five-year contract extension during the offseason that makes him the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history despite limited experience as a starter, but he ultimately suffers a torn ACL in Week 3, leading to more of Beathard and fellow backup Nick Mullens leading the team to a 4-12 finish.
  • 2019: San Francisco makes the Super Bowl with Garoppolo enjoying his lone fully healthy season in which he plays in every game.
  • 2020: Garoppolo suffers multiple injuries throughout the year, while other injuries derail the 49ers' chances to avenge their Super Bowl loss from the previous season. Garoppolo plays in six games, and the Niners are subjected to more of Beathard and Mullens.
  • 2021: San Francisco aggressively trades up to draft Trey Lance at No. 3 overall while also being linked to trade rumors for star signal-callers, Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson. Garoppolo becomes a lame-duck starter while Lance waits in the folds for his turn.
  • 2022: 49ers use the final pick of the draft on Purdy, while rumors circulate about Garoppolo being traded. No trade happens, though, as offseason shoulder surgery derails Garoppolo's trade value. Niners initially name Garoppolo as Lance's backup, but Lance suffers a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2, leading to Garoppolo reclaiming his former starting status. But even Garoppolo suffers a season-ending ankle injury late in the year, which opens up the door for Purdy to start (and win) San Francisco's final five regular-season games en route to the NFC Championship game.
  • 2023: Purdy spends nearly all of the offseason recovering from an elbow injury suffered in the NFC Championship the previous January, but it's clear he'll be the starter going forward over Lance and other offseason pickups, Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen. Garoppolo is allowed to walk in free agency, signing with the Las Vegas Raiders. Lance is subsequently traded to the Dallas Cowboys for a fourth-round pick before the regular season begins. Purdy finishes fourth in NFL MVP voting.
  • 2024: 49ers let Darnold walk in free agency but re-sign Allen and also sign Josh Dobbs to round out the depth chart behind Purdy, the unquestioned starter.

It's a pretty dramatic list of events, and one could argue the 2019 season was the only one that generated almost no quarterback controversy whatsoever.

That certainly wasn't the case nearly every other year and offseason.

Brock Purdy will have his 1st full offseason preparing as 49ers' starting QB

Not lost in all of this is the fact that Purdy, now entering year three of his pro career, will enjoy his first full offseason regimen as the No. 1 option on the Niners' quarterbacking depth chart. Even last year, when San Francisco was set on him starting, Purdy was recovering from said elbow injury and subsequent surgery, not reappearing on the field until training camp.

Now, Purdy will have the chance to take all those first-team reps during organized team activities and minicamp, and there'll be little-to-no concern about his elbow when training camp resumes later this summer.

"I'm just pumped to be able to go through the film with him and to be on the field with him, which he hasn't had a chance to do yet in his career," Shanahan said of Purdy, via ESPN's Nick Wagoner.

Assuming that's entirely beneficial (which is should be), there's no reason to speculate that Purdy will regress after his historic and MVP-caliber campaign last season.

If the drama surrounding the game's most important position is merely limited to which quarterback -- Dobbs or Allen -- winds up being No. 2 on the depth chart, the 49ers will happily take it.

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