Usually, when a team has three different quarterbacks start throughout the season, things have gone horribly wrong, and they have a top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
However, in the case of the San Francisco 49ers, it’s the complete opposite.
Trey Lance was named the starter this year over Jimmy Garoppolo, but Lance suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 and was ruled out for the remainder of the season. Garoppolo took over and led the 49ers to a 7-3 record before also suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 13.
Things looked grim for San Francisco, with the team naming rookie Brock Purdy as the starting quarterback. Purdy was the last pick in the draft, dubbing him “Mr. Irrelevant.” However, Purdy has led the 49ers to five straight wins to close out the season, securing them the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Purdy’s solid play down the stretch has forced the 49ers into a difficult situation.
Who will start at quarterback for them next season?
The Case For Trey Lance
Lance earned the starting job this past offseason, and if it weren’t for him getting hurt, he’d still be starting for the 49ers. It was always the plan for Lance to take over for Garoppolo in San Francisco, as he was drafted No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He appeared in six games in his rookie season, including two starts.
In 2021, Lance completed 57.7% of his passes and threw for 603 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also had 38 carries for 168 yards and one touchdown. Lance struggled in his first career start, throwing under 200 yards with an interception in a 17-10 loss to the Cardinals. However, in his second start, he threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-7 win over the Texans.
San Francisco and Lance struggled to kick off the 2022 season, losing 19-10 to the Chicago Bears in a game marred by horrible weather. Lance completed just 46.4% of his passes and threw for 164 yards and one interception. He also added 54 yards on 13 carries.
Lance has shown promise at times, but he has also shown he still needs time to develop before becoming a full-time NFL starter. This injury also doesn’t help his case, as he recently underwent a second surgery due to irritation in his ankle.
The Case For Brock Purdy
Purdy took over the starting job when Garoppolo was injured in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins, and he hasn’t looked back. Since then, the 49ers have averaged 33.5 points per game with Purdy under center. Not only did Purdy become the first Mr. Irrelevant to throw a passing touchdown, but he’s also made a very strong case to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Since taking over as 49ers QB, Purdy has completed 68.3% of his passes and thrown for 1,308 yards, 13 touchdowns, and three interceptions. Purdy has thrown two touchdowns in each game except for the season’s final game, in which he threw for three.
As the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft, no one anticipated Purdy would even play this season. He’s since crushed all expectations. He has shown poise in the pocket and great leadership on the field for a rookie. Purdy doesn’t put up big numbers like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, but he moves the ball down the field and keeps his mistakes to a minimum.
Purdy was given the keys to the franchise part-time, making it difficult for the organization to take it back.
The Final Verdict
San Francisco has the wonderful problem of choosing between two good quarterbacks. On the one hand, the organization invested plenty of draft capital in Lance as they gave up three first-round picks to nab him at No. 3. On the other hand, Purdy has been terrific since taking over and has helped lead the 49ers to a division championship.
If Purdy is successful in the playoffs and leads the 49ers on a Super Bowl run, then it should be a no-brainer, and Purdy should be the starter. Even if he struggles, Purdy should still be named the starter. San Francisco can get a better return on trading Lance than trading Purdy.
The future of the San Francisco 49ers belongs in the hands of Brock Purdy.
Featured Image: San Francisco Chronicle