The San Francisco 49ers are primed to have another fantastic season, regardless of who is under center for them in 2023. There is a lot of coach talk arguing that there are three viable options with Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold, and Trey Lance. The reality of the situation is that Trey Lance will start for them in week one. Darnold is instantly out of the picture, but Purdy can be a feasible starter.
Purdy had a fantastic start to his career last year, however, most of the reason for his success comes down to three causes. The first is the system that the 49ers have in place. Kyle Shanahan and his coaching staff have led below-average quarterbacks to succeed in the past. Guys like Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard, and dare I say, Jimmy Garoppolo. Purdy is not the first to succeed far ahead in this system.
The next cause is the lack of film teams had on Purdy. He was a third string quarterback that was drafted as “Mr. Irrelevant” in the 2022 draft. No one expected Purdy to ever get a start, so no one knew to see how he throws and study his strengths and weaknesses to game plan against it. This doesn’t completely explain the dominance he had over a span of nearly half the season, but that is where the next reason comes in.
One of the biggest factors is sheer luck. Beginners’ luck in particular. There aren’t many tangible reasons, but Purdy isn’t nearly talented enough to be relied on moving forward. Draft capital matters in these situations and while there have been exceptions, they are few and far between. Tom Brady was a needle in a haystack, and a string of solid games in an elite offense that carries all of their quarterbacks does not make them comparable.
Trey Lance was never supposed to start right away. It may have seemed so when he was drafted third overall and the rest of the quarterbacks in his draft class are productive NFL starters, but he always needed some time to progress. His upside is what everyone was looking at. He was only drafted two years ago and fans are already starting to give up on him. Struggles with injuries have been an unfortunate case that he’s dealt with, and it is tough that it came so early in his career. However, he’s expected to be healthy when week one comes around and for a guy that the 49ers traded up to steal, Lance is their guy. He’s their quarterback, and he’ll prove why he’ll turn the franchise over the hump and win them a Super Bowl.
The fact is, the 49ers have someone special. Let’s not forget the long-term expectations that experts and fans alike had on him. His upside is through the roof and his talent is something that can take the franchise from contendership to actually winning the Super Bowl. None of that goes away with a single injury, especially with a broken ankle very early in the season.
Lance is even working out with Patrick Mahomes, who on top of being the best quarterback in the league, Mahomes and Lance have similar styles despite Lance being better with his legs.
Trey Lance doing offseason work with Patrick Mahomes. https://t.co/xpij1Niwsu
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 8, 2023
The 2021 quarterback draft class came into the league in a variety of positions. They had a variety of weapons to their disposal and the situations of their teams were all over the place. Lance comes in with the best position of them all. He has an elite coaching staff behind him, as well as a multitude of weapons to make life incredibly easy. They have playmakers galore with George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. Not only that, but they are also elite on defense, which has been a big reason as to why the 49ers have made it to at least the conference championship in three out of their last four seasons.
Trey Lance will start week one and will continue to start the entire season barring any injury. With the talent he poses and the upside he has with all of the weapons to his disposal, the sky’s the limit for his fantasy football value. Right now, although his ADP is higher than Purdy, he’s still being drafted as the QB27, which is appalling. As long as he’s playing and healthy, he’s a lock to finish as a top 10 quarterback and has the upside of reaching the top five.
I’ve always been bullish on Lance and quarterbacks just like him, and that’s because I’ve seen this pattern before, and I’ve seen quarterbacks just like him succeed and perform at an elite rate. He is going to knock it out of the park in fantasy football in 2023, and I’ll be targeting him in every single one of my drafts.
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