Seven veteran QBs the 49ers could target this offseason


Trey Lance is expected to be cleared for full participation in the 49ers’ offseason program after the quarterback's 2022 season ended in Week 2 with a fractured fibula and ankle ligament damage.

Brock Purdy is scheduled for elbow surgery on Friday, and his timetable for a full recovery pushes against the start of the regular season.

General manager John Lynch said last week that the 49ers “love” Lance and Purdy, but ...

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

The 49ers figure to be in the market for an older, experienced quarterback when free agency begins next week.

Lynch outlined what he is seeking: “A guy who can go win games with a really good roster.”

Of course, there are limitations on which quarterbacks the 49ers will pursue on the open market. They are not likely to present a contract offer with much guaranteed money.

Also, there must be an understanding for any veteran who comes to the 49ers that he is likely to fall to No. 3 on the depth chart — or even occupy a spot on the practice squad — if, as expected, Lance and Purdy are ready for the start of the regular season.

Here are some free-agent options for the 49ers to explore:

Andy Dalton, Saints

Andy Dalton, 35, signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the New Orleans Saints last offseason.

He has 162 career starts, including 133 over his first nine NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dalton was fine with the Saints last season. He started 14 games, completed 66.7 percent of his pass attempts with 18 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 95.2 passer rating.

The Saints this week signed former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, and Dalton is not expected to be in play to remain with the Saints.

He might have an opportunity for a No. 2 job elsewhere. But if he does not, or if Purdy’s timetable for a full recovery hits a snag, a Dalton-49ers union makes tons of sense.

Matt Ryan, Colts

Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan is not a free agent, but it seems highly unlikely the Indianapolis Colts will retain him for a second season.

Ryan was named NFL MVP in 2016 with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.

Ryan, who turns 38 in May, probably is no longer a starter.

The question is whether he is willing to play on the cheap without a defined role on the team — or even knowing if he will be on the team, period.

Marcus Mariota, free agent

The Falcons recently released Marcus Mariota, which makes him available for any club to sign at any time.

Stylistically, Mariota fits with how the 49ers made tweaks to their offense to account for Lance’s dual-threat capabilities.

Since leaving the Tennessee Titans following the 2019 season, Mariota has gotten a couple nice contracts from the Raiders and Falcons.

He is not a starter, and if his price tag is near the minimum, the 49ers could do a whole lot worse.

Jacoby Brissett, Browns

The Cleveland Browns signed Jacoby Brissett a year ago to serve as a bridge quarterback to disgraced Deshaun Watson, who served an 11-game suspension last season.

Brissett could find himself in a similar situation this season. If a team has intentions of using a first-round pick on a quarterback, Brissett could sign a short-term deal to be a fall-back starter.

He started 11 games for the Browns, completing 64 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Taylor Heinicke, Commanders

The Washington Commanders figure to make a move for a long-term starter this offseason.

Taylor Heinicke started 24 games over the past two seasons in Washington. He has proven himself to be — while clearly not a starter — someone who at least can keep the wheels from falling off any time he is forced into action.

At a low base salary and little guaranteed money, he would fit as QB No. 2 1/2.

Jeff Driskel, Texans

Do you remember Jeff Driskel?

The 49ers under Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly selected Driskel in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The 49ers cut him before the start of the regular season, he immediately latched on with the Bengals and he has bounced around to Detroit, Denver and Houston.

Driskel has 10 starts in his NFL career. He should be inexpensive and ticketed for the No. 3 role.

RELATED: Report: Rivers offered services to 49ers after QB injuries

Nathan Peterman, Bears

He entered the league in 2017 and had a rough go with the Buffalo Bills in 2017 and ’18, with three touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

If the 49ers feel comfortable with the health situations of Lance and Purdy, Peterman could take part in the offseason program and training camp in order to compete for a job on the practice squad.

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