San Francisco’s quarterback conundrum has been the talk of Radio Row this week with plenty of debate over who the team should turn to as its long-term starter. With Jimmy Garoppolo likely to depart in free agency, the Niners are left with highly-touted dual-threat Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, a late-round afterthought who miraculously played his way into the Rookie of the Year conversation by going undefeated with a 119.0 passer rating in his five starts.
The starting job may simply come down to who’s healthiest, with Lance, despite missing most of last season with a torn ACL, further along in his recovery than Purdy, who is still feeling the effects of an elbow injury with plans to undergo surgery later this month. While Hall-of-Famer Joe Montana remains partial to Garoppolo, campaigning for his return in 2023, George Kittle believes the QB1 role is Purdy’s to lose after a brilliant debut season, exceeding all expectations by leading San Francisco to within a game of Super Bowl LVII.
“He’s fantastic. Our offense was operating at probably the highest it’s been since 2019. In my opinion, it’s Brock’s job to lose,” said Kittle while appearing as a guest on Von Miller’s podcast. “There will be competition because Brock’s going to be out until training camp with his surgery. It’s going to be interesting. But when you find a guy like that, that can seamlessly jump in, it’s his job to lose.”
Selected with the 262nd and final pick of last year’s NFL Draft, Purdy injured his right (throwing) elbow early in the Niners’ conference championship loss to Philadelphia, returning only after backup Josh Johnson was lost to a concussion. It was initially feared Purdy would require Tommy John surgery, which would have cost him most, if not all of next season. Fortunately, doctors determined that wasn’t necessary, opting for a procedure that only calls for a six-month recovery.
“I don’t know what’s going on with Jimmy. He’s a free agent, so whatever happens there happens,” said Kittle, who played some of his best football with Purdy under center, finishing the regular season in style with seven touchdowns over his final four games. “Trey, unfortunately, has not really gotten a fair shot of being an NFL quarterback yet. You got a full rain game/monsoon against the Bears and he got hurt in the second game. Trey’s still got plenty of talent. He’s just got to get out there and play.”
With weapons galore (Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, etc.), it shouldn’t matter who starts at quarterback next season, with coach Kyle Shanahan showing he can win with almost anyone, putting his players in position to succeed with clever play-calling and inventive offensive schemes.