Brandon Allen

Why 49ers signed backup QB Allen in free agency

Kyle Shanahan explained the 49ers' thought process behind signing quarterback Brandon Allen in free agency to join Brock Purdy, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold at the position.

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Once again, the biggest topic surrounding the 49ers' offseason program is the battle at quarterback.

Brock Purdy, if healthy, appears to be the leader in the locker room to start under center for San Francisco in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers after his storybook rookie season. Behind him is a pair of former No. 3 overall picks in Trey Lance and Sam Darnold, both still trying to prove themselves in the NFL.

But there's another quarterback tossing passes at 49ers practice this summer -- 30-year-old signal-caller Brandon Allen.

Allen, who spent the last three seasons as Joe Burrow's backup with the Cincinnati Bengals, signed a one-year contract worth $1.1 million with San Francisco in early April, a deal that included $200,000 in guaranteed money.

So, why did the 49ers -- with three talented quarterbacks under the age of 26 -- bring in another quality talent at the position?

“We knew in free agency we didn't know where Brock was going to be at the time, so we knew we had to go get someone to compete with Trey in case Brock wasn't. And we got fortunate with Sam on that," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday after a day of practice at mandatory minicamp.

"Then we felt good just with our targets and everything, and once we kind of started phase one when we're doing all the quarterback drills and workouts, it was just, man, there's only two quarterbacks here. Brock can't do much and we would like a third guy."

Allen entered free agency as the Bengals signed veteran Trevor Siemian to be Burrow's backup in 2023. He still was available when San Francisco's brass came calling in April.

While the 49ers did need another option to take reps at quarterback in the offseason while Purdy recovers from elbow surgery, Shanahan insists Allen is not just an extra throwing arm to have around the facility.

"When he came here and hopped in our drills, I think we got like two weeks with him, and I've been extremely impressed," Shanahan said. "The reps he's gotten, he's done very well. And he is obviously not just a camp arm around this league, he's been a backup for a while, but just how good he's done in his OTAs and stuff is going to give him a chance with us.”

As the 49ers wrapped up mandatory minicamp Wednesday afternoon in Santa Clara, Allen will be on the roster heading into training camp. And from there -- as we learned last season -- anything can happen to a 49ers quarterback with a chance to contribute.

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