49ers confident in Trey Lance, Brock Purdy entering 2023 season


The Niners are confident with their two young quarterbacks going forward.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch held their season wrap-up press conference Wednesday and outlined what’s next for the franchise heading into 2023. Shanahan told reporters he doesn’t envision “any scenario” where veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo returns to the 49ers, meaning they’ll attack next season with the young QB duo of 23-year-old Brock Purdy and 22-year-old Trey Lance.

According to Lynch, Purdy remains exploring alternate opinions on the torn UCL in his right elbow, after getting injured on the first drive of Sunday’s NFC Championship loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“You wanna make sure you’re thorough,” Lynch said. “He’s continuing to go through that process. The positive bit of news, it seems to be consistent, is the right approach seems to be that six months one.”

It sounds like Purdy will be able to avoid dreaded Tommy John reconstruction surgery on the injury and that they’ll be able to repair it with another procedure and get him back in sixth months, near the start of training camp.

“That was the coolest thing for me to hear about – once three months is over they start the rehab and start building the arm back slowly,” Shanahan said. “By six months it’s built back. That’s when I started asking questions, like, ‘Do I have to ease him in?’ and stuff like that – I think of ACLs and stuff like that. They said, ‘No. The build-up’s been from 3-6 (months).’ At six months he is the same dude and full-go. That was the most encouraging part that I’ve heard.”

Lance is also coming off an injury, but he’s expected to be healthy for offseason team activities (OTAs), which typically begin in late May. Lance underwent two surgeries to repair a foot/ankle injury that ended his season in Week 2. Given Lance’s timetable, he will begin the offseason as de facto QB1 while the team waits for Purdy to heal.

“I don’t think there’s much to handle,” Shanahan said. “One guy can’t go and the other guy should be ready for OTAs.”

Shanahan said he hasn’t given any thought to how he’ll handle a potential QB battle when Purdy returns healthy. He also said the 49ers likely won’t pursue adding a veteran QB as insurance in free agency or via trade. While Tom Brady announced his retirement Tuesday morning, Aaron Rodgers has been rumored as a potential trade target for the 49ers this offseason.

“I know we have two starters on our team right now that I believe we can win with,” Shanahan said. “When you have that situation, you’re not that eager to go looking around.”

Lance ($9.3 million) and Purdy ($889,000) are still on their rookie deals and give the 49ers an advantage, as they feel like they have two starters on the roster for a fraction of the average price for a veteran signal-caller. With the salary cap rising to a league-record $224.8 million in 2023, the 49ers could have some extra room to maneuver in free agency.

The 49ers are also considering contract extensions for players like Nick Bosa and Brandon Aiyuk, as the relatively-low quarterback salaries could be a cheat code for the front office in coming years. Garoppolo ended up earning $12.6 million this year while playing on an incentive-laden contract.

The 49ers have a track record of locking up their stars, as players like Fred Warner, George Kittle and Arik Armstead have each-signed big five-year extensions in recent years.

“If you look at our roster, we’ve got high-end players all over,” Lynch said. “A lot of high-end players that we’ve taken care of. We’re able to do that and we’re still in decent cap position, in part because, even with Jimmy on the roster this year, he’s not making one of those gigantic deals right now. We did our one-year thing. I think it is something we can take advantage of if we do choose to go that direction.”

It’s remarkable that the 49ers made it to the NFC Championship while losing three quarterbacks. Some have pinned the blame on Shanahan for running his QBs into the ground, but the coach deflected any blame for the way he called games this year.

“If you looked at the injuries, common sense would answer that question,” Shanahan said. “Like how have they gotten hurt? I’m sorry Josh (Johnson) got a concussion when he hit the ground. That’s the fourth one you’re talking about. I’m sorry our quarterback got his elbow bent backwards on a normal drop-back pass. I’m sorry on a drop-back pass, someone rolled up on Jimmy’s ankle. Then we have a dual-threat quarterback (Lance) who got hurt running the ball. To throw all those four in that category, no quarterback got hurt when we were handing it off in the second half, so we can look at that.”

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