Sunday’s NFC Championship game was supposed to be Brock Purdy’s opportunity to prove he was the San Francisco 49ers’ best choice at quarterback moving forward. Unfortunately, the Cinderella story ended in ugly fashion.
The quarterback injured his elbow early on and was replaced by journeyman Josh Johnson, only for Johnson to leave with a concussion. That left Purdy in a rough spot, relegated to handing the ball off and throwing short passes. The 49ers were easily defeated 31-7 by the Philadelphia Eagles and have a long offseason ahead. So what does this mean for Purdy in 2023?
Brock Purdy and the 49ers can get back to their expected plans
The question surrounding the team for the past two years was who would start between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. The latter won the battle this offseason, only to get hurt, putting Garoppolo back under center. But the veteran is now a free agent and will surely be off to a fresh start next season.
That leaves Lance and Purdy as the two options. To remind fans, one is a former No. 3 overall pick and the other was the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. That alone explains what will happen next.
The 49ers traded up in 2021 to select Lance at No. 3 overall, sending away a haul of future picks in the process. This investment meant the entire organization saw him as the quarterback of the future.
Yet he was not rushed into action, thanks to his youth (he is still only 22 years old at the moment). He was given time to adjust to the NFL game as a rookie, and his season-ending injury in 2022 also offered him more time to learn, even if it came under unfortunate circumstances.
Heroics aside, this is and has always been Lance’s team for 2023. So where does that leave Purdy? Well, just about in the same spot he was before he took over the starting job. He is now an experienced backup playing behind a young quarterback who may put himself in dangerous situations as a runner.
In fact, Purdy might be one of the most valuable backups in the entire NFL, thanks to his experience and minimum salary. The fact he was so effective as a rookie may also mean he follows the Garoppolo path in the future and is a sought-after option in free agency once his contract is up following the 2025 season.
The rookie had a shot at leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl and potentially winning the whole thing. That would have made him a legend in the Bay Area and created a serious question about Lance’s role next season. However, the magic ended, and it will be the Trey Lance show next season in San Franciso, at least in Week 1.