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After spending his rookie season as the San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback, Trey Lance could find himself in a similar role in 2023.
Per Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicletwo people with knowledge of the 49ers’ plans confirmed Brock Purdy is expected to be the starting quarterback over Lance next season.
Lance was San Francisco’s starter coming into 2022, but a fractured ankle suffered in a Week 2 win over the Seattle Seahawks ended his season. He had a follow-up surgery in December to remove some of the stabilizing hardware in his ankle that was irritating a tendon.
He is expected to make a full recovery and be ready to go when the 49ers begin organized team activities in the spring.
Purdy, who was the final pick in the 2022 NFL draft, became the backup quarterback behind Jimmy Garoppolo after Lance went down. The 23-year-old made the roster out of training camp after beating out Nate Sudfeld for the No. 3 quarterback spot.
After playing a handful of snaps in a few blowout games early in the season, Purdy was thrust into action when Garoppolo suffered a broken foot in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. He responded by playing remarkably well with 1,098 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and a 68.6 percent completion rate in five starts to finish the regular season.
In San Francisco’s playoff opener against the Seattle Seahawks, Purdy overcame a shaky start to finish 18-of-30 for 332 yards and four total touchdowns in a 41-23 victory at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers scored at least 37 points in each of their last four games.
While the jury is far from being decided on Lance, the 49ers did pay a steep price to select him in the 2021 NFL draft. They traded four picks to the Dolphins, including first-rounders in 2022 and 2023, to get the No. 3 selection for Lance.
Lance has been an unfortunate victim of bad luck. The 22-year-old hasn’t played consistently since the 2019 season at North Dakota State. He only played one game in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 49ers drafted Lance with the idea of having him sit behind Garoppolo for one year before taking over as the starter. He did make two starts as a rookie when Garoppolo was injured.
It’s hard to argue Purdy shouldn’t be the starter based on his and the team’s success. Lance could still be given the chance to compete for the job in training camp and the preseason, or the 49ers could try to recoup some draft picks if they decide to explore trade opportunities for the young signal-caller.