Can Brock Purdy Be the 49ers Starting QB in 2023?

San Francisco 49ers seventh-round pick Brock Purdy did a phenomenal job filling in as the team's starting QB, so could he be the No. 1 guy in San Fran in 2023?

The San Francisco 49ers entered the 2022-23 NFL season with one of the best quarterback duos across the NFL. Second-year quarterback Trey Lance was given the starting job over veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. But no one would’ve expected the 262nd overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to be the quarterback of the future of the 49ers.

Brock Purdy made NFL history in the Wild Card round when he became the lowest-drafted quarterback to start an NFL playoff game in his first season. He not only logged a 5-0 record as a regular season starter but actually contributed and look quite good in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

His play begs the question of whether Purdy can be the 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2023. We’re diving into all factors that will play into whether Purdy is the 49ers starting quarterback moving forward.

Can Brock Purdy Be the 49ers Starting QB in 2023?

Losing two quarterbacks that a front office heavily invested in through draft capital and money would doom almost any team in the league. But the 49ers wisely added Purdy, a four-year starter at Iowa State who seemingly peaked in his sophomore season, with the final pick of the draft. It turns out that Mr. Irrelevant will be quite relevant for the futures of Garoppolo and Lance.

Purdy isn’t just a novelty product from Shanahan’s friendly system.

He was a smart, accurate passer in college who just didn’t have the elite physical tools that wowed scouts. In some ways, he fell victim to circumstance, as it felt like he hit his ceiling after we had gotten used to seeing him. As always, the shinier toys drew our attention away from someone who had a strong foundation of experience and efficiency.

His stats speak for themself. Both Purdy and Garoppolo completed just over 67% of their passes and saw just three yards separate their per-game average (when accounting for the six games Purdy played a majority of or started). Purdy averaged more yards per attempt.

MORE: Will the 49ers Re-Sign Jimmy Garoppolo

There were differences, as Garoppolo had a lower interception rate by 1.1%, and his sack rate was 0.6% less. Those marks matter, especially considering Purdy benefitted from game plans that heavily featured running back Christian McCaffrey.

Ideally, McCaffrey would’ve handled less of the load to ensure he stayed healthy when it matters the most. But having to play Purdy might’ve forced Shanahan to pivot his strategy.

Giving Purdy a full offseason and training camp as the starter might help bridge that gap. The rookie was considerably better than Lance in the small sample we’ve seen across the latter’s snaps. Lance was a massive project out of North Dakota State that I was quite low on because of his inaccuracy and inexperience.

I definitely believe Purdy can be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023. The 49ers owe him less than $900,000 next year, making him arguably the best bargain in the NFL. San Francisco doesn’t need to move Lance to make room for Purdy since both can exist and battle for the job.

What Will Happen With Jimmy Garoppolo in 2023?

Garoppolo will almost certainly be elsewhere in 2023 after Purdy’s emergence, and the veteran might’ve been destined to leave anyways. As part of his reworked contract made this past offseason, Garoppolo can’t be franchise tagged.

The 49ers could move some money around to keep Garoppolo, but signing him long-term would make Lance a sunk cost and put the franchise right back where they tried to escape from when they traded up for Lance in the first place.

Garoppolo will have several major suitors in free agency this offseason. He’s an average or better quarterback who is beloved in his locker room. Teams looking to revamp over rebuild can bank on him being an efficient game manager. His biggest issues are his lack of an elite playmaker ceiling and durability concerns.

Even coming off his season-ending foot injury, Garoppolo should be attractive to the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Washington Commanders. Based on the supply and demand situation, Garoppolo should get at least $30 million a year in free agency.

It would be stunning if San Francisco was the team to make that happen.

What Will Happen With Trey Lance in 2023?

As fun as it is to speculate whether Lance could end up being dealt this offseason, the timing just isn’t right for the 49ers. His value right now has to be extremely low, considering he’s completed 54.9% of his 102 passes for five touchdowns and three interceptions over eight games. He’s also lost two years of his rookie contract and is coming off a broken ankle.

Would the 49ers be able to get a second-round pick for Lance? It’s questionable since a team can’t fully trust he’d be a good starter in 2023. He hasn’t shown real on-field promise in the NFL.

MORE: Derek Carr Landing Spots

There are also financial reasons why the 49ers will bring Lance back. If he’s traded prior to June 1, he’d count as an $11 million dead cap hit in 2023 and not save the team any money. If he’s traded after June 1, the 49ers save $3.76 million of his $9.3 million cap hit, but the team would receive a 2024 draft pick for Lance since the 2023 draft will already be over.

With such little upside in making that move now, Lance will certainly still be in San Francisco and will likely battle Purdy to be the starter in 2023.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles