ESPN posits Mason Rudolph as veteran QB fit for 49ers


The biggest question of the 49ers' offseason is simple: Will it be Brock Purdy or Trey Lance under center in 2023?

But as the 2022 NFL season showed, nothing is a given at quarterback. And with both young signal-callers dealing with injuries, San Francisco certainly is in the market for some veteran help.

From Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield, there has been no shortage of names tossed into the universe when it comes to who the 49ers could sign. And while ESPN's Jeremy Fowler affirmed in his latest article that San Francisco and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are viewed as potential Mayfield landing spots, he also brought up another quarterback.

"The Bucs and 49ers came up most often when I asked around about quarterback Baker Mayfield's market," Fowler wrote. "... And the 49ers need veteran help due to injuries to Trey Lance and Brock Purdy. Mason Rudolph would also make some sense there."

Rudolph is set to enter free agency this month for the first time in his five-year NFL career. The 27-year old was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft as Ben Roethlisberger's presumed heir, though things didn't quite work out that way.

He didn't play at all as a rookie, then was handed the reigns in 2019 when Roethlisberger went down with an injury. Rudolph went 5-3 during that time with 13 touchdowns and a 62.2 completion percentage before being benched due to inconsistent play.

After making just two starts over the next two seasons, Rudolph was relegated to QB3 in 2022 behind Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky and didn't dress for any games.

So, could he eventually end up in Red and Gold? The veteran backup plans on exploring his options outside of Pittsburgh in free agency, per Tim Benz of the Tribune-Review, though Rudolph also wouldn't "close the door unnecessarily" on remaining with the Steelers.

And in San Francisco, the 49ers are ready to take a look at the quarterback market.

“We love the two guys we have,” 49ers general manager John Lynch recently told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco of Purdy and Lance on "49ers Talk."

“Might we look elsewhere? Sure, because I think that’s just good business.”

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But whether it be the Steelers, 49ers or perhaps another NFL team, it's a given Rudolph will take on a backup role with whatever club he joins.

Should he come to the Bay, the quarterback certainly could understand the pressure both Lance and Purdy face as signal-callers with sky-high expectations in the midst of a quarterback battle.

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