Tucker explains why 49ers must explore Lance as starting QB

/ by Angelina Martin
Presented By Toyota

The 49ers will have two young quarterbacks to choose from next season in Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, both of whom will be looking to bounce back from injury and prove they're worthy of the starting role.

Lance, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, has plenty of promise in terms of athletic ability. And Purdy, who went last in the 2022 draft, already has shown he has what it takes to lead an offense.

Former offensive lineman-turned-NFL analyst Ross Tucker sees the upside in both signal-callers, he told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan on Tuesday. But he believes the 49ers should explore starting Lance before dumping all of their eggs into the Purdy basket.

"I mean, you've invested a lot in Trey Lance," Ross said from Super Bowl LVII Radio Row on the latest episode of "49ers Talk." "He's very physically gifted. See what he can do.

"Purdy was phenomenal, I mean, Purdy was fantastic, and it's not like he played poorly in the [NFC Championship Game]. He got hurt, so we don't know how he would have performed."

The 49ers surrendered three draft picks -- first-rounders in '22 and '23, and a third-rounder in '22 -- to move up in 2021 and select Lance. The 22-year-old was making the fourth start of his NFL career in Week 2 this season when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Seattle Seahawks.


Purdy, on the other hand, tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing elbow during the NFC Championship Game and plans on having surgery this month to repair the damage, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday, citing sources.

With such little experience, it's still difficult to foresee how Lance will do as a full-time starter. But when deciding between Lance and Purdy, Tucker doesn't think the 49ers should base their choice on where each was taken in the draft.

But that doesn't mean the fans won't, he noted.

"[Draft status] shouldn't matter at all to the teammates, it shouldn't matter at all anymore to the organization because it's a sunk cost," Tucker said. "But in the court of public opinion, almost no matter what they see, there's a lot of folks in the Bay Area that will always just say, 'Trey Lance is more talented,' 'Trey Lance is more gifted,' 'We need him out there because of what the Niners gave up to go get him and draft him,' as opposed to where Purdy was drafted. ...

"They gave up so many assets for Lance, and maybe it's worth it. Maybe Lance would be their Patrick Mahomes if he's healthy or whatever. We just haven't seen it yet."

RELATED: Doctor explains why Purdy's six-month recovery 'not guaranteed'

From the court of public opinion to the 49ers' decision-making room, there are plenty of ways the franchise's latest quarterback saga could play out.

But with two talented athletes looking to give their team its best chance to succeed, San Francisco certainly is in good hands.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast