by Oliver Jensen
Brock Purdy’s football fairy tale came to a painful end. The San Francisco 49ers Quarterback sustained an elbow injury in the NFC Championship Game. He has to undergo an operation and will probably be out for around six months.
That puts him in good company with the 49ers: fellow quarterback Trey Lance is suffering from a fractured ankle he sustained early in the season. At least the latter should be fit again for the coming season. Purdy’s way back is likely to be lengthy.
The question is all the more: who will then lead the 49ers as quarterback?
Will it be 22-year-old Lance again, the 3rd-pick pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and seen as the future of this franchise? Or is it 23-year-old Purdy, who was drafted 262nd in the 2022 NFL Draft and has had a steep rise since early December?
Or will a completely different playmaker take over in San Francisco?
The only thing that is certain is that Jimmy Garoppolo has no future with the 49ers. His mega five-year, $137.5 million contract is up. As a free agent, the 31-year-old can determine his own future. This should not be in San Francisco.
San Francisco 49ers: The numbers speak for Purdy
Purdy brings the winning mentality. He had won all seven games as a starting quarterback up until the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. And who knows how the game against Philadelphia would have turned out if he hadn’t picked up the injury early in the game?
In nine games, he threw 13 touchdown passes with four interceptions. His passer rating was 107.3. For comparison: Lance had an average rating of 84.5 in eight appearances. Only five touchdown passes face three interceptions. Purdy completed 67.1 percent of his passes to Lance just 54.9 percent.
Basically, both found a perfect environment in San Francisco. Tight end George Kittle, running back Christian McCaffrey, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and pass receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are real guns.
Especially since head coach Kyle Shanahan is a good playcaller who knows how to use all these strengths. The manager praised the fact that the young Purdy hardly made any mistakes despite his lack of experience: “What impressed me the most was how well he handled the ball.”
Lance is several times more expensive than Purdy
Another argument for Purdy: He has proven his victories against the Seattle Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. Trey Lance has yet to provide that evidence. Purdy is also exceptionally cheap due to the late pick: He has three more years under contract at an average salary of $1,004,253 each.
With Lance, the 49ers still don’t really know how well he really works as a starting quarterback. In two seasons, Lance has only started four games and played 248 offensive snaps. But he hits the salary cap properly: Lance collects $ 9.3 million in 2023 and $ 10.85 million in 2024.
An open competition between the two young passers would be possible. Purdy’s disadvantage: He will probably miss most of the pre-season injured. The chance for Lance – or not?
It would also be possible to engage an external top star. Because one thing is clear: The 49ers are in win-now mode. Offense is loaded with many weapons, and defense was the best in the NFL in 2022 for both yards and points allowed. The title window is now open – the 49ers must use it. They won’t be able to keep this squad together forever.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers grew up as 49ers fans
With an elite quarterback, the 49ers would automatically be a title contender. Former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson made a suggestion on ESPN Radio: “There’s a guy in South Florida who’s 45 years old.”
I mean Tom Brady. If Johnson were in charge of the 49ers, “I’d have a conversation with him. I’d say, ‘Hey, you can ride into the sunset with the same kind of team that you had when you left New England and went to Tampa Bay.”
What speaks for it: Brady can choose his next employer as a free agent. The veteran grew up as a fan of the 49ers in California and used to attend many games in the franchise with his father. There were already rumors of a possible change in the last offseason.
Brady already has a personal connection to the 49ers: Brian Griese, the San Francisco quarterback coach, was Brady’s quarterback colleague at the Michigan Wolverines.
Another notable option would be Aaron Rodgers. Shanahan is known to have inquired about Rodgers’ availability back in 2021. Will he try again?
Like Brady, Rodgers grew up in California as a fan of the 49ers. The problem: The 49ers’ cap space, which stands at $13,697,380, could stand in the way of such a commitment. Would there be a solution for this?
In any case, the 49ers should have an exciting offseason.