Three Quarterback Scenarios for the San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have an interesting quarterback competition coming into this off-season. After Brock Purdy went down in the NFC Championship Game and the final whistle blew, many were left wondering who the team would start for the next season.

The 49ers went ahead and signed Sam Darnold to a one-year deal as insurance for oft-injured Trey Lance as Purdy nurses a UCL injury, but this did little to clear the air as veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Here are the three best scenarios for San Francisco. 

Three Possible Scenarios for the San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Situation

Trey Lance Wins the Starting Job

When the 49ers drafted Lance with the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they envisioned much more than two injury-riddled seasons.

His production in those two seasons has been lackluster. He has a 5-3 touchdown to interception ratio in eight total games played, along with a 54.7% completion rate. Those are not atrocious numbers, but they certainly are not top-three pick-worthy and not what the 49ers expected when selecting him.

However, there is hope that Lance can blossom into the lethal quarterback that Head Coach Kyle Shanahan believes he is. In the few games he has played, he showed glimpses of greatness, indicating that the talent is indeed there. Fortunately, he has recovered well from his ankle injury sustained in Week 2 of the 2022 season against the Seattle Seahawks and has been working with the first-team offense this offseason.

Barring an injury, Lance is the front-runner for the job and will most certainly get opportunities in the preseason. The talent is there for him to perform, and with a quarterback guru in Shanahan, this would be the ideal option if Brock Purdy is unable to play at the start of the season or if he wins the quarterback battle outright.

Brock Purdy is Healthy Enough to Start and Beats Out Trey Lance

Purdy led the 49ers back to the playoffs with a 5-0 run to end the season. He played phenomenally and threw 13 touchdowns with five interceptions on a 67.3% completion rate. Unfortunately, this magical run would end against the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2022 NFC Championship, where he suffered a UCL injury in his right elbow.

The 49ers would go on to lose the game, having to put in Josh Johnson and other players due to the lack of healthy signal callers. As of right now, Purdy’s recovery is trending upward. General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan believe he will be good to go come Week 1 of the 2023 season.

Purdy starting would be the most ideal situation for the team as “Mr. Irrelevant” caught fire on the field in the late stages of last season. When he was on the field, the team was firing on all cylinders and couldn’t be stopped due to offensive weapons like Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, and George Kittle.

Hopefully, he will be able to pick up right where he left off last year and get San Francisco back into title contention.

MORE: Could a team trade for Lance?

Sam Darnold Gets One Last Shot

Sam Darnold signed a one-year contract with the 49ers this offseason after two rough seasons with the Carolina Panthers and a tumultuous beginning with the New York Jets, when he was selected with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Darnold’s career numbers are nothing special, a 61-55 touchdown to interception ratio with a 59.7% completion rate, but Kyle Shanahan is known around the league for being “the quarterback whisperer.” If there is anyone who can unlock the true potential of the former University of Southern California product, it’s him.

Darnold would be able to come into a very quarterback-friendly offense and hold the reins until Purdy returns from injury or keep the job for the rest of the year if all goes well.


The 49ers find themselves in a unique predicament, especially since their offense is filled with high-class players like McCaffery, Kittle, and Samuel. With a stout offensive lineman like Trent Williams providing protection, it seems Shanahan just needs someone to hold the reins.

Main Image:  Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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