The San Francisco 49ers lost the NFC Championship Game on Sunday after injuries forced them to use a fourth-string quarterback. As the franchise prepares for the 2023 offseason, there are concerns about both Brock Purdy and Trey Lance.
Purdy played extremely well following season-ending injuries to Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. After being selected with the 262nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the rookie quarterback went 6-0 during the regular season replacing Garoppolo, posting a 112.0 QB rating with a 68.3% completion rate and a 13-3 TD-INT line.
He played well enough during the playoffs to help San Francisco reach the NFC title game, with a shot to head to Super Bowl LVII. However, a strip-sack by Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher Haason Reddick injured Purdy’s elbow.
While Purdy returned late in the game, he only attempted one pass and couldn’t throw it more than a few yards. Kyle Shanahan was forced to scrap a majority of the 49ers’ playbook, only using Purdy to hand the football to Christian McCaffrey.
Now, Purdy will undergo an MRI on Monday with the franchise hoping he avoided a rupture. If it’s the worst-case scenario, damage to the UCL that requires surgery, Purdy’s availability for the 2023 season will be in doubt.
With Garoppolo headed for free agency and the 49ers projected to have limited cap space, pursuing a top free agent like Tom Brady will be challenging. While Lance is still on the roster and will be fully recovered by training camp from right ankle surgery, it seems he has lost a lot of trust within the organization.
San Francisco 49ers no longer sold on Trey Lance
NFL insider Charles Robinson said on the Yahoo Sports’ You Pod to Win the Game podcast that the 49ers’ confidence in Lance heading into the offseason is very low.
“Trey Lance, this might be what it took to get him into a position where they are force-fed back into the idea. I’m just telling you man, I don’t know what’s going on with Trey Lance in that organization. I can just tell you that the confidence level between Brock Purdy and Trey Lance prior to this game, it was night and day and that is not good for Trey Lance…I’m telling you their confidence in Lance is very low right now.”Yahoo Sports’ NFL reporter Charles Robinson on San Francisco 49ers QB Trey Lance
San Francisco mortgaged much of its future on Lance. Before the 2021 NFL Draft, the 49ers traded the 12th overall pick along with a third-round pick and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to move up to No. 3 overall to draft Lance.
It was seen as a massive gamble even at the time of the move. Lance only played in one game during the 2020 college football season because of the COVID-19 pandemic with his lone year of success coming in 2019 as a star for North Dakota State at the FCS level.
Long viewed as a quarterback prospect who needed time and reps to develop, Lance has started just five games at the FCS and NFL levels in the last three years. Heading into 2023, the 22-year-old quarterback has only attempted 102 passes in two NFL seasons.
When Lance went into training camp as the 49ers’ starter, reports were extremely mixed. He displayed a lot of issues with accuracy, struggling to execute the timing of Shanahan’s offense and making a lot of bad throws.
It’s why Purdy emerged as the favorite to start next season after fitting perfectly into the 49ers’ scheme. If an MRI determines his elbow injury will cost him significant time in 2023, San Francisco will likely need to re-evaluate its quarterback situation.