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After spending his rookie season as backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Trey Lance could move into a similar role in 2023.
Per Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicletwo people with knowledge of the 49ers’ plans confirmed that Brock Purdy is expected to be the starting quarterback over Lance next season.
Lance was the San Francisco starter coming into 2022, but a broken ankle suffered in a Week 2 win over the Seattle Seahawks ended his season. He underwent follow-up surgery in December to remove some of the stabilizing hardware in his ankle that was irritating a tendon.
He is expected to make a full recovery and be ready to go when the 49ers begin organized team activities in the spring.
Purdy, who was the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft, became the backup quarterback behind Jimmy Garoppolo after Lance went down. The 23-year-old made the roster outside of training camp after beating Nate Sudfeld for the No. 3 quarterback spot.
After playing a handful of snaps in a few blowout games early in the season, Purdy came into action when Garoppolo suffered a broken foot in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. He responded by playing remarkably well with 1,098 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and a 68.6 percent completion percentage in five starts to finish the regular season.
In San Francisco’s playoff opener against the Seattle Seahawks, Purdy overcame a shaky start to finish 18-of-30 for 332 yards and four total touchdowns in a 41–23 victory at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers have scored at least 37 points in each of their last four games.
While the jury is still far from deciding on Lance, the 49ers paid a dear price to select him in the 2021 NFL draft. They traded four picks to the Dolphins, including first-rounders in 2022 and 2023, to win the number 3 selection for Lance.
Lance has been an unfortunate victim of bad luck. The 22-year-old has not played consistently since North Dakota State’s 2019 season. He only played one match in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 49ers drafted Lance with the idea of letting him sit behind Garoppolo for a year before he takes over as a starter. He did make two starts as a rookie when Garoppolo was injured.
It’s hard to argue that Purdy shouldn’t be the starter based on his and the team’s success. Lance could still have a chance to compete for the job in training camp and preseason, or the 49ers could try to recoup some draft picks if they decide to explore trading opportunities for the young signal caller.