Kawakami: Why Brock Purdy is the 49ers’ QB1 of the future and Trey Lance is the QB2

No 49-year-old would say it directly, but no 49-year-old really should. It’s basically engraved in franchise law now:

Brock Purdy is obviously fully focused on this postseason right now, but he’s also done more than enough in just over a month of stellar play to lock himself in as the presumptive quarterback for the starting team in the offseason, training camp, 2023 season. Ordinary and probably much longer.

Purdy is a QB1, already 1-0 as a playoff starter with an increasingly good chance of running the table in the postseason. Trey Lance is a QB2 with a chance to vie for the starting job, and push Purdy, when he fully recovers from his broken ankle. The 49ers will likely add their veteran QB for experience and poise.

The postseason is happening right now, but that’s the plan, the reality, the conviction, and the slightly accidental genius of what Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have developed in front of them.

Of course, that could change if Purdy is seriously injured or suddenly turns in a sluggish performance in Sunday’s game in the teams round against Tampa Bay or Dallas. Things may always change and it really has a few times this season for the 49ers’ QB plans.

But Purdy’s rise, for many of the reasons I’ll detail in this column, marks a stronger tide than anything else we’ve seen in the past few seasons because of the work he put in before taking over the starting job and, of course, getting at least 6-0 into the second round of Playoffs since the QB1 period began.

Even if the 49-year-old won’t be honest, just listen to Deebo Samuel talk about Purdy lately.

“The first game he ever started, called timeout,” Debo said. “It kind of hit me. Kyle don’t play that. That showed me the kind of guy he is.”

Deepu doesn’t praise like this just for fun. When Deebo notes that a rookie QB has the guts and guts to stop the game himself, it’s noteworthy. I think Samuel was referring to the opening moments of the second quarter against Tampa Bay on December 11, when Purdy was making his first start for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49 riders were already up 14-0 and leading; Purdy scrambled for a yard on third and 1 from the Tampa Bay 33-yard line, and then a timeout came.

Three plays after resetting things, Purdy threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey and the game was basically finished.

Perhaps this was the time when the 49ers’ most successful players began not only counting on Purdy to play right, but also believing he could. put them to play right even when Shanahan couldn’t. I’m sure Garoppolo can do this sometimes, but maybe not all the time. When he was playing this season, Lance wasn’t around, and it’s hard to know when and if that arrival will happen.

pure? he’s there. He had one final hurdle to jump before the 49ers could comfortably enter him in the 2023 QB1 Championship, and he easily cleared it in Saturday’s quadruple performance (three assists, one run) in a wild card victory over Seattle. Playoff tensions? Early on perhaps, but after a few misses, Purdy did what he’d been doing during this run: score points and avoid flips.

In his seven games (counting the Miami game), Purdy has thrown 16 TD passes, ran for two more, and thrown just three interceptions, and the 49ers outscored their opponents 239-120 with Purdy efficiently distributing Deebo, McCaffrey, George Kittle, Brandon Ayuk And everyone.

Could Purdy do this in a less comfortable setting? Mostly not. It is not a one man crime. He’s a medium, and he’s happy to say so. But Purdy can also light up defense and improvise on huge plays like he did in the second half on Sunday. Purdy is a system QB and can also be an out of system QB, and he can be effective doing both.

Which is exactly what Shanahan wants from his QB. That’s what he got from Matt Ryan in 2016, when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator at Atlanta. What the Shanahans thought Kirk Cousins ​​could do when they recruited him in 2012.

He listened closely to the 49ers players and they’ve known for a while that Purdy was a candidate for QB1, even back at training camp when the mr. was irrelevant but raising eyebrows on the training field and boardrooms.

When we spoke just days after Purdy was first brought into Garoppolo on Dec. 4, Trent Williams suggested that Purdy was kind of like the “elephant in the room” during training camp, clearly on everyone’s radar. In some ways, I don’t think Purdy really needed to jump the playoff barriers for most of the 49ers’ locker rooms. He was already the man before Saturday.

It was a little upsetting to see Lance (after his second surgery a few weeks ago) use crutches – painstakingly – to move around at wing level during Saturday’s game… while Purdy was moving the team around, throwing TDs and yelling in front of the crowd. Again, things can always change, but this one seems fine-tuned.

Over the past few years, the 49ers have gone through an incredible amount of QB flops, not all their fault but definitely including some quick on-the-fly recalibration. They’ve gone from Garoppolo as the franchise’s QB in the 2019 season to considering Tom Brady in 2020 to trying to trade Aaron Rodgers in 2021 to trading three first-round picks to go draft picking Lance (and thinking highly of Mac Jones) to keep Garoppolo this summer and he needs Garoppolo as insurance for Lance and finally for Purdy after Garoppolo is injured.

There have been reports that they will look at other options in the off-season, and I’m sure there will be more as the weeks go by and the 49ers will continue to be a major talking point in the NFL. Yes, Shanahan and Lynch could get a shot at Brady again this season.

But do they Flag A 46-year-old Brady would be better than what they get from Purdy now? This doesn’t even include the natural improvement in Byrdie’s season two. Can they be sure of anything about Derek Carr? Can they count on Garoppolo?

If Garoppolo stays healthy and takes the 49ers into the playoffs, I think Shanahan and Lynch would have been willing to try and get Garoppolo back as a starter, with Lance and Purdy as backups. But Garoppolo was hit again and Purdy came on. And yes, Purdy was actually better than Garoppolo.

Shanahan and Lynch always weigh everything, especially at QB. But their nature is to stick to what they know and like unless there is a dramatic reason to change things up. They never have much reason to change things from Purdy. In some ways, it is he Dramatic change, and it’s been there the whole time.

“He’s definitely the most poised rookie I’ve ever faced,” said Shanahan after the 49ers’ 21–13 win at Seattle on December 15, which was Purdy’s first start on the road and came when he was battling a rib injury.

Another big difference between this season and most other QBs: Buredy is signed to the 49ers for $870,000 next season, $985,000 in 2024 and $1.1 million in 2025 and can’t negotiate an extension until after 2024. That’s millions and millions less than almost any other team pays a QB1, a huge advantage on all salary cap calculations, and the exact opposite of the pay-or-lose decisions Baltimore faced with Lamar Jackson and the Giants with Daniel Jones — and the 49ers with Garoppolo in 2018.

This time around, the 49ers will have to commit big money in order to move Away of the winning man.

And it was admirable that while he generally (and logically) avoided announcing anything official about the 49ers’ QB depth chart next season, Lynch mentioned Lee Purdy and Lance last week…and didn’t mention Garoppolo. This is because Purdy has replaced any primary reason for the 49ers to try and keep Garoppolo next season.

In the meantime, I think the 49ers will listen to any trade offers for Lance, but I don’t think the deal is realistic. They probably won’t recover the injured player’s value and still love Lance. There’s no doubt Purdy has been a lot better than few they’ve seen from Lance in two seasons, but you don’t trade three first-round draft picks to someone and then dump them after they’ve played hard.

I don’t think Lance’s cut is overproductive either. It would save the 49ers some cash but cost them more on the salary cap in dead money. So what’s the point? It makes sense to keep Lance on the roster as a viable replacement should Purdy stumble or get injured next season. And if none of that happens, maybe the 49ers can trade Lance in 2024.

By law, I am required to add, Cousins ​​is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after next season, when he turns 35. I’ve only mentioned Cousins’ option about 100 times since Shanahan’s arrival in 2017, but be fair, Shanahan himself has mentioned it several times. Since I’m the guy keeping this one alive, let me be the one to say: He’s so close to closing that door, finally, because of everything Brock Purdy is doing now and has been able to do for years.


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Kawakami: Brock Purdy’s first playoff appearance is a sign of huge things to come for Class 49

(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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