The 49ers quarterback rumors are already heating up, less than 24 hours after the team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship.
Mike Sando of The Athletic spoke to two anonymous NFL executives and an agent who gave their guesses as to what’s next with the Niners. One of the executives made a couple of bold predictions concerning the futures of Trey Lance and Tom Brady.
“I think they will trade Trey Lance to Tennessee and then they will end up with Brady and Brady will play one year for his home team, and they will have Brock Purdy as the backup,” an non-49ers exec told Sando. “That is the chatter. They have the defense already, Brady wants to win one more, and this is right up the 49ers’ alley.”
This story was published before the news of Brock Purdy’s MRI Monday reportedly revealed he suffered a torn UCL and is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery. Purdy would likely return as Brady's backup in the rumored scenario, so perhaps a Lance trade is still possible. It's worth noting that Sando's other two sources didn't think a Lance trade is likely.
Lance was the first 49ers quarterback to go down this season, as he suffered an ankle/foot injury that wiped out his first full year under center in Week 2. Lance posted a message to 49ers fans on Instagram Monday, writing, “Thankful for this year. Blessed to have been around this special group of guys who inspired me every day. Not how we planned it, but the best days are still ahead.”
After Lance got hurt, Jimmy Garoppolo made the next 10 starts but then he also suffered a foot/ankle injury in Week 13. Most figure that Garoppolo will go elsewhere in free agency, as there is expected to be a lot of quarterback turnover throughout the league.
Lance will be entering the third year of his rookie deal, counting $9.3 million against the salary cap, which will reportedly reach a record $224.8 million next season. Purdy, as the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, comes at a bargain price of $889,000 in 2023. That’s a cheap and talented quarterback room if the 49ers keep it together, though both guys will be coming off major injuries.
Brady grew up on the Peninsula and rooted for the 49ers, so he’s been linked to the 49ers since the days before his departure from the New England Patriots in 2020. The 45-year-old remains durable, as he hasn’t missed a game since the 2016 season. He attempted a league-high 733 passes for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2022 and completed 66.8 percent of them for 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He will be an unrestricted free agent and have plenty of suitors.
For what it's worth, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan spoke glowingly of Brady before his team's Week 14 matchup against the Bucs in December.
“Tom, he plays the position better than anyone ever and he's definitely the G.O.A.T. from what I've seen," Shanahan said. "I don't say that just because he has won Super Bowls. I say it because of how he plays the position. The ball always goes to the right spot and that answer is based off of a thousand different things. ... He's kind of flawless in his technique how he gets everyone the ball and he's done that his whole career, but his throwing mechanics, they only get better each year, so I feel like his arm's stronger now than it was 10 years ago and his legs moved just as good as they did 10 years ago."
Lance would be an intriguing trade chip for a team, but he has to be viewed as a risk, as he’s appeared in just eight games with four starts in his career. The dual-threat quarterback turns 23 in May, so maybe some team will view him essentially as a new draft pick and hand its offense to him.