Will Brock Purdy start for 49ers next year? Projecting the 49ers’ sudden QB competition with Trey Lance

The Purdy wordplay has run its course, but Brock Purdy has not.

“Mr. Irrelevant” has been anything but, keeping the 49ers in the playoff hunt despite injuries to both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s done more than just play caretaker for the 49ers’ offense, though.

Purdy got off to a rough start vs. the Seahawks in the wild-card round, but rebounded to throw for 332 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the drubbing of their division rival. He also rushed for a touchdown, making him the first rookie in NFL history to account for four TDs in a playoff game.

While the Kyle Shanahan offense is known for being exceptionally quarterback-friendly, Purdy has executed it to a high level in just a matter of months, elevating his game with every passing week — and mitigating the losses of both passers in the ranks.

MORE: 4 reasons why Brock Purdy can lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl win

The Iowa State Cyclone is in for a whirlwind of an offseason — his quick ascent has placed him firmly in the mix to start for the 49ers come the 2023 regular season.

So, will he? He’s got a chance. Here’s why: 

Will Brock Purdy start for 49ers next year?

If Purdy continues this streak, then he’ll make a case to challenge Trey Lance for starting supremacy come the 2023 season. The 49ers and Kyle Shanahan has to look no further than Jimmy Garoppolo as reason why.

At minimum, Purdy has essentially replicated the success that Garoppolo has had in the 49ers offense, at least on a stat-for-stat basis (including playoffs) in 2022:

Garoppolo Stat Purdy
11 (10 starts) Games Nine (5 starts)
16 TDs 13
4 INTs 4
7.3 ADOT 7.9
5.2 TD rate 7.6
67.2 Completion rate 67.1
1.3 Interception rate 2.4
69.5 Passing grade (PFF) 74.4

With Garoppolo a free agent, having Garoppolo-esque production on the roster gives Purdy the inside track to starting. But Garoppolo isn’t the biggest obstacle to Purdy’s quest for QB1 entering the offseason.

When the 49ers traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft, some salivated at the thought of the next evolution of the Shanahan offense featuring the physical traits of Trey Lance. Unfortunately for both the Niners and Lance, there’s hasn’t been an opportunity for him to get on the field just yet. 

With Garoppolo entrenched as the starter in 2021 and a Week 1 ankle injury ending Lance’s season in 2022, the 49ers are going to need some kind of return on investment for Lance. With Year 3 a deciding year for a player’s fifth-year option, there’s a good chance that Lance may have a slight upper hand on Purdy entering training camp, with the two likely battling it out for the starting job. 

Purdy’s contract also will factor into the 49ers’ long-term plans. Given that he was selected with the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, his contract is essentially peanuts against the salary cap: Purdy is owed $870,000 in 2023, accounting to 0.4 percent of the salary cap. Those kinds of savings at the QB spot make it easier for the 49ers to build around him.

According to NFL insider Mike Silver, the “battle is already over,” and Purdy has “earned Shanahan’s trust and confidence in a manner that Lance has not, and practice reps and preseason performances aren’t changing that.” Lance supposedly has to make a monstrous jump in order to unseat Purdy for QB1 title come Week 1 in 2023.

That may be the case at the moment, but it’s a long way to September.

49ers quarterback depth chart

Brock Purdy is the 49ers’ third starting quarterback of the 2023 NFL season, and San Francisco likely hopes it stays that way through the playoff run. 

With the injuries to Garoppolo and Lance, the team signed quarterback Josh Johnson off the Broncos’ practice squad in early December. 

With Lance out for the year and Garoppolo angling to come back later in the playoffs (should the 49ers make it that far) here’s how their depth chart shakes out entering the divisional round:

Rank Player
1 Brock Purdy
2 Josh Johnson
3 Jimmy Garoppolo (Injured)
4 Trey Lance (IR)


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