The 49ers don’t have a ton of work to do this offseason, but the team needs to figure out who will start at quarterback moving forward.
When QB Trey Lance went down with a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2, few could’ve known it was a harbinger of QB troubles to come for the San Francisco 49ers.
They had everything they needed. They extended Deebo Samuel in 2022, Brandon Aiyuk ascended, George Kittle remained a star, they acquired Christian McCaffrey from Carolina, and their defense was nothing short of elite.
But they never had a healthy QB for more than seven games.
After Lance went down, Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot. Next, Brock Purdy stepped in and went undefeated in the regular season, until he injured his elbow on the first drive of the NFC Championship Game. And just to add insult to injury, fourth-stringer Josh Johnson came in and suffered a concussion.
“They played great and did good things, but we wish we had a little better opportunity than we had today,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the 31-7 loss.
It wasn’t quite the season in a nutshell, but certainly one that carried a theme that started in the second week of the season.
A team as talented as the 49ers doesn’t have too much work to do in the offseason, but their QB debacle is the place to start.
Keeping in mind that the 49ers have two QBs on rookie deals and one due for an extension — plus a bunch of unrestricted free agents — it’s going to become a game of financial Tetris for the front office. The NFL announced Monday that the salary cap will be $224.8 million; the 49ers have about $216.3 million on the books with only 35 players under contract.
Let’s see who and what they need to prioritize.
49ers Offseason Priority: QB Carousel
There are several routes the Niners can go with this one, but the wrong choice could be costly. Let’s take a look at the three guys here:
Jimmy Garoppolo: The 31-year-old is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and given the other options San Fran has, there’s probably no sense in running it back. He finished the year 7-3 and had an impressive six-year run (38-17), but it might be time to finally move on. Not to mention, Jimmy G might garner $35 million on the open market. It feels like insanity at this point — this was the fourth season in which he missed time due to injury since joining the 49ers in 2017.
Brock Purdy: It would almost feel wrong if they didn’t bring back Purdy. His story alone is pretty remarkable, but the most important thing is that he was a good leader on a winning football team, finishing the season 5-0 with 11 TDs and only two INTs. He’d also save the team a ton of money, currently on a four-year, $3,737,008 rookie deal.
Trey Lance: The 2021 No. 3 overall pick went 1-1 in the two games he played. There’s a chance the could trade him while he’s still young, but if he pops off for another team then it’ll make any other decision look bad. Like Purdy, Lance is still on a rookie deal, but one that’s way more expensive (4 years, $34,105,275).
Key Free Agents
- QB Jimmy Garoppolo
- DB Jimmy Ward
- CB Emmanuel Moseley
- DE Samson Ebukam
- K Robbie Gould
Not for nothing, but it’s usually a good sign when other franchises poach personnel from a team’s coaching staff or front office. Kyle Shanahan’s coaching tree is a real thing, with Miami’s Mike McDaniel being the latest branch to prove himself as the lead man elsewhere. Next up is defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans, who is expected to become the Texans‘ newest head coach, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Ran Carthon, the Niners’ former director of player personnel, left in January to become the Titans’ GM. QB Ryan Tannehill is an unrestricted free agent in 2023 with an out this offseason. Trey Lance seemed to hint at something back on Jan. 18…
Stay tuned, as this has the potential to get interesting.
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