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Mina Kimes predicts Trey Lance will start for the 49ers but picks another name in an ideal world

Jan 31, 2023 at 10:19 AM

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Get ready for a barrage of speculation surrounding the San Francisco 49ers quarterback situation and its impact on the upcoming 2023 season. Before Sunday, most expected the QB1 job to be Brock Purdy's to lose. However, Monday's news that the rookie quarterback suffered a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow changed things. He will require surgery and may not be able to throw for the 49ers until training camp.

Jimmy Garoppolo is slated to become a free agent. He suffered a broken foot on December 4 and is still recovering, but he will likely play elsewhere in 2023. So unless the 49ers pursue another veteran—Tom Brady's name may come up once or twice—third-year quarterback Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in 2021, may now be the frontrunner for the starting job.

Many had figured there would be an exciting quarterback competition this off-season in Santa Clara, but it doesn't look like that will happen now that Purdy will be sidelined.

ESPN's Mina Kimes sees Brady as a possibility, assuming the future Hall of Fame quarterback is willing to play for significantly less money in 2023. However, she believes Lance will be the 49ers' starter when the new season kicks off.

"I'm going to pick Lance," Kimes said on ESPN's First Take. "Not because I think it's necessarily what they should do or even what people in San Francisco want to do, but it seems the most plausible of the three [options] because of health, cap space, and the amount of investment they've already sunk into him."

In 2021, the 49ers traded their 2021, 2022, and 2023 first-round picks and a 2022 third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins to move up to the No. 3 spot to select Lance. Kimes believes that hefty investment will be a factor in any off-season decision.

However, the reporter's projection would have been different in a perfect world with everyone healthy.

"I think, ideally, if you're a Niners fan," Kimes continued, "after watching this team that was clearly a Super Bowl roster, fell because of a lack of a quarterback, and seeing your quarterbacks suffer through so many injuries, you'd probably want Brady, who [has], of course, been relatively durable, is the greatest of all time. But you'd have to get him to sign a very team-friendly deal to do so. I think, if I was a Niners fan, that's what I would want."

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