It appears increasingly likely that not only will Brock Purdy compete for the 49ers' starting quarterback job in 2023, but he might be the front-runner.
After skyrocketing to NFL stardom as an unlikely 49ers hero, Purdy captured the hearts of many around the league, especially his own teammates. He suffered a torn UCL in the 49ers' NFC Championship loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, though, and will have elbow surgery that likely will sideline him for the next six months leading up to training camp.
The 49ers now anticipated a quarterback competition between Purdy and former No. 3 overall draft pick Trey Lance, who initially was San Francisco's starter in 2022 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. 49ers tight end George Kittle joined eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller on "The Von Cast" on Thursday and discussed the unfortunate hand Lance was dealt.
"Trey Lance is still there, and Trey, unfortunately, has not really gotten a fair shot of being an NFL quarterback yet. You got a full rain-game monsoon versus the Bears, and he got hurt in his second game," Kittle said. "You know, Trey's still got plenty of talent. He just needs to get out there and play."
Although Kittle still is confident in Lance's ability, he believes that as of right now, momentum favors Purdy.
"But you can't talk about what Brock Purdy did," Kittle added. "He's fantastic. Our offense was operating at the highest it's probably been since 2019. So, in my opinion, it's Brock's job to lose. But there will be competition since Brock will be out 'til training camp with his surgery, so it's going to be interesting. But when you find a guy like that [who] can seamlessly jump in, I think it's his job to lose."
After replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo mid-game in Week 13, Purdy completed 151 of his 224 passes (67 percent) for 1,877 yards and 18 total touchdowns with three interceptions and one fumble lost in nine combined regular-season and playoff appearances.
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Unfortunately for Lance, Purdy -- as a third-string, seventh-round pick -- has started twice the amount of games (eight) as Lance (four).
The primary knock on Lance is his lack of collegiate and NFL experience, which is one area Purdy has the clear upper hand. The 49ers have plenty of time before deciding on a starter for next season, but it appears Purdy has support from one of the 49ers' most important locker-room leaders.