Who will be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers when they open their 2023 regular season on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers? While we’ll have to wait several more months to get an answer to that question, it’s starting to sound like the 49ers are planning to have Brock Purdy under center for that contest at Acrisure Stadium.
According to David Lombardi of The Athletic, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan recently said that barring any setbacks, the team expects Purdy back by training camp. He adds that Purdy has already been making throwing motions with a towel but not yet with a ball, which is expected to happen in June.
Purdy, who was the last player taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, played during his rookie season and quite well at that. He helped guide the 49ers to the playoffs but suffered a serious elbow injury early in the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles. That injury required surgery to have his ulnar collateral ligament repaired via an internal brace procedure, which is not as evasive as UCL reconstruction, which most people know as Tommy John surgery.
While Purdy continues his rehabilitation, the 49ers have plenty of other quarterbacks under contract to get them through the offseason in Trey Lance, Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen.
“I do believe we have three quarterbacks talent-wise that are all capable of being franchise-type quarterbacks, but that’s just capable,” Shanahan said, according to Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports. “There’s been a lot of guys who have been capable. It’s how do you play and how you win games and Brock’s done that in his eight. We have two other guys on the roster who we strongly believe can do that also.”
Of those three quarterbacks under contract with the 49ers not named Purdy, Darnold is the most experienced. He was originally selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets and has 55 career starts to date. One would think he might start the 2023 regular season against the Steelers should Purdy not be ready by then.
As for Purdy to date, he started five regular season games for the 49ers last season. His first career start didn’t come until Week 14, and he proceeded to rattle off five consecutive wins for the 49ers to close out their regular season.
For the 2022 season, Purdy, an Iowa State product, completed 114 of 170 total pass attempts for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He was sacked 11 times in total. In the playoffs, Purdy completed 41 of 63 pass attempts for 569 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. However, he only attempted four passes in the NFC Championship game due to him getting injured early in that contest.
It would be interesting to see Purdy and Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett square off in the Week 1 opener as they were the first and last quarterbacks selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. While such a matchup could ultimately come to fruition, it’s way too early to know if Purdy will be fully healthy by then. We’ll be paying close attention to his offseason progress just the same.