Irvin explains why 49ers' Purdy is ‘worthy' to start over Lance


Just like the 49ers will do all offseason, the rest of the NFL world will go back and forth on who San Francisco will start under center for the 2023 season. 

Will it be rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, the 23-year-old who led the team to the NFC Championship Game and was nearly perfect in his first seven NFL starts? Or will it be Trey Lance, the second-year pro who the team traded four draft picks for? 

Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin weighed in. 

“With Brock Purdy and Trey Lance, that’s a hard call man,” Irvin said on 95.7 The Game’s "Damon and Ratto.” “I guarantee you that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are sitting there like, ‘We got some things to discuss.’

“Brock Purdy did everything, he did everything he could. He went down and at his floor, he has to be at his floor because those were his first experiences on the football field. You can’t be anywhere near your ceiling.”

Up until Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Purdy was unbeatable as a starter. His confident and even-keeled approach helped continue the team’s win streak to 12 and was just one win shy from Super Bowl LVII. 

The way his coaches and teammates talked about him matched what fans saw from the young QB on the field. And it didn’t take long for him to become Mr. Relevant. 

While Irvin acknowledged Lance, too, has undeniable potential that the world hasn’t seen yet due to injuries, he can’t shake what he did witness from Purdy. 

“I know Trey Lance is young and he’s pretty much at his floor too, but boy, I would have to look into that long and hard,” Irvin said. “Because the way [Purdy] started, you get a player on the field that starts like he started, that’s worthy of giving him more opportunities, and Brock Purdy certainly has earned more opportunities. 

“I don’t give a darn about draft capital. I don’t care what you spent on who. When you got somebody who’s playing like that, you got to continue to search that talent.” 

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Of course, Purdy's reported injury update can make things a little more complex. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday, citing sources, that Purdy endured a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right throwing elbow and is recommended to undergo surgery. He's expected to be out for the next six months. 

Assuming Lance is cleared to begin practice when the 49ers’ offseason program begins, he will take the first snaps of the offseason with the No. 1 offense.

The many "what ifs" of the offseason remain as the 49ers embark on what will be a busy, busy next few months. 

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