The reports of a quarterback battle in San Francisco are greatly exaggerated, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Shanahan told Sports Illustrated that not only would Brock Purdy have been the team’s starting quarterback if the 49ers had advanced to the Super Bowl last February and Purdy and Jimmy Garoppolo had both been healthy, but that Purdy will also be the team’s starting quarterback entering the 2023 season as long as he is medically cleared to play.
“He’s been [the starter] since last year ended,” Shanahan told SI. “He was always clearly our starter, but there were so many questions about his injury, how he’d come back from it, that we didn’t even know if he’d be ready for this year, so we had to prepare for everything else. I mean, Trey [Lance] was the guy we gave the keys to last year, so we were definitely excited to have him in a situation [to play], and we also didn’t know if Brock would be back, so we needed someone to come in and at least compete with Trey, and give us a chance, because Trey was hurt last year, and just got cleared before OTAs.”
Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, started last season atop the 49ers’ quarterback depth chart before suffering an ankle fracture in Week 2, pushing the veteran Garoppolo back into the starting role until his own injury. Purdy then suffered a major injury of his own in the 49ers’ NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, tearing the UCL in his throwing elbow when he collided with Philadelphia pass-rusher Haason Reddick.
Garoppolo left for the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency last spring, while the 49ers signed veteran Sam Darnold to add depth to the quarterback room as Purdy and Lance recovered. However, with Purdy’s recovery timetable reportedly putting him in line to be cleared to play by Week 1, neither Darnold nor Lance may end up getting a chance to fill in before then.
Lance started against the Raiders in the 49ers’ first preseason game on Sunday, with mixed results.
Despite putting up good numbers (10-of-15 passing, 112 yards and a touchdown) Lance looked uncomfortable in the pocket throughout the affair according to Colin Cowherd. Lance also took four sacks, including two on his opening drive, and his touchdown pass was a near interception, which fell out of a Raiders’ defender’s lap before finding Ross Dwelley in the end zone.
“The Niners are pretty much in salvage stage with Trey Lance, ’cause they gave up so many picks in the first round to get him,” Cowherd asserted on “The Herd.” “They’re just trying to get him looks. He had three 3-and-outs, before throwing what was an interception, but it bounced off a player’s hands and then into one of their player’s hands for a touchdown. It was not very good. His quarterback rating was the most deceiving of the weekend, he basically threw two picks, and both were dropped.”
Is Trey Lance’s 49ers tenure up after struggles in preseason loss vs. Raiders? | THE HERD
Colin Cowherd explains why he has ‘seen enough’ of Lance.
For Cowherd, both Darnold and Purdy are better options than Lance.
“I think I’ve seen enough,” Cowherd said. “This isn’t it. He’s not as accurate as Brock Purdy. He’s not as talented as Sam Darnold. … Darnold is more athletic and more talented, that’s why he keeps getting chances, and Brock Purdy’s more accurate. When I watched it this weekend, Sam Darnold is good enough to be a starter for the Niners. … The problem is, it’s no time to experiment, and that’s what Trey Lance is. And this coach, and this roster and this franchise’s momentum – you got to win now.
“Trey Lance was also pressured four times and sacked four times. We know he’s not really accurate, so where’s the elusiveness? If you pressure Lamar Jackson four times, generally he’s going to escape a couple of them.”
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