5 significant questions for 49ers at quarterback in 2023

Another year, another 49ers quarterback dilemma, and it's not likely one that'll likely be solved as easily as it might seem.
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (L) and Sam Darnold (R)
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (L) and Sam Darnold (R) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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Jimmy Garoppolo might no longer be walking in and out of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback room, but that doesn't change the fact there is still drama at the most important of positions for head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad heading into the 2023 season.

Garoppolo was supposed to be replaced by now by the quarterback for whom the Niners aggressively moved up and took at No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance. Yet Lance is now often seen as the third option on San Francisco's quarterbacking depth chart behind Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold.

Lance might have the highest ceiling out of all three, but two frustrating and incomplete years from the youthful signal-caller have led to an uncertain future.

That uncertainty, however, spreads further than just where Lance ends up on the depth chart.

Purdy is coming off a torn UCL. He might not be ready by Week 1. Darnold, meanwhile, could end up seizing the QB1 role to begin the season, which would absolutely demolish what remaining value Lance has to any team.

What then?

Those kinds of questions are the ones Shanahan and Co. will have to have answered between now and the regular season, and we evaluate five pressing ones of the sort right here.

Significant 49ers question No. 1: What if Brock Purdy isn't ready by Week 1?

Right now, all signs are pointing to Purdy's post-UCL surgery putting him on track for a full recovery by the start of the regular season.

Great news.

Purdy deserves to start as QB1, too. After all, going 5-0 down the stretch of the regular season and helping the 49ers offense average nearly 30 points per game during that timeframe is pretty remarkable, especially when it netted the Niners another trip to the NFC Championship game where Purdy suffered his injury.

Without getting too deep into the medical side, though, what happens if Purdy suffers some sort of setback? What if he's physically cleared, but his already-questionable arm strength needs weeks or even months to get back to 100 percent?

Even though the Niners have two other starting-caliber quarterbacks on the roster, being without Purdy to start the season would be a significant blow.

And it would create more questions, too.