PHOENIX — As the 49ers’ season came to a close, it was reasonable to deduce the organization had indeed found its long-term starting quarterback.
However, it was the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft — and not the No. 3 overall selection a year earlier — who impressed teammates, coaches and team executives.
General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan stated this week at the NFL Annual Meeting that Brock Purdy showed enough late in the season to win the starting job.
Trey Lance, whom the 49ers traded up to select in 2021, will have an opportunity during the offseason program and training camp to make his case for the starting job while Purdy rehabs from elbow surgery.
It is quite a turn of events for Lance, who entered last season as the starter.
But CEO Jed York said there is no second-guessing the decision to part ways with significant draft capital in order to pick Lance as the third quarterback after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson.
“I wouldn’t change anything that we’ve made about the decision with Trey,” York said. “I think Trey has a chance to be great. But it’s a bonus when you get somebody at the end of the seventh round that ends up coming in and being very impactful for your team.”
San Francisco 49ers
As the No. 3 pick in the draft, Lance signed a fully guaranteed four-year, $34.1 million contract. Purdy’s original deal, which can be renegotiated after three seasons, is four years, $3.7 million.
Lance has started just four games in two seasons. Purdy made eight starts as a rookie, including two victories in the postseason.
“You can’t worry about, well, Trey hasn’t played as many games as we would’ve liked,” York said. “It’s not his fault. He got injured.
“When you look at when we drafted him, we wanted to make sure we had a young quarterback on a rookie contract that allows you to be able to say, ‘All right, Javon (Hargrave) is kind of a bonus.’”
The 49ers surprised a lot of the NFL world this offseason with the signing of Hargrave, a defensive tackle formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, to a four-year, $84 million contract.
That signing was made possible because of the relatively small cap dollars the 49ers are allocating to quarterbacks Lance, Purdy and veteran newcomer Sam Darnold.
“There’s a delta in what you’re spending on your quarterback versus what somebody else is spending in their quarterback,” York said. “And I hope one of these three guys gets a massive, massive extension with the San Francisco 49ers at some point.
“But until then, we’re going to make sure we build this thing around a young quarterback with a very team-friendly contract.”
Lynch said this week the team’s stance is that the player who best helps the team win games will play, regardless of how a player arrives on the team.
York said the only thing that matters is the bottom line.
Said York, “The ultimate goal is to win a championship. It’s not to say that this draft pick or this decision was the perfect decision. It’s to win a Super Bowl.”
The 49ers have advanced to the NFC Championship Game in three of the past four seasons with one Super Bowl appearance while striving for the franchise’s first NFL title since the 1994 season.