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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Notebook: Purdy comments on starting in 2023; Will Bosa watch Super Bowl 57? McGlinchey’s future; Players defend Shanahan; Williams not dwelling on Eagles incident

Jan 31, 2023 at 9:04 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers players cleaned out their lockers and headed home on Tuesday, two days after their season came to an end with a frustrating 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game. A number of players spoke with reporters before leaving team facilities, and as is always the case on departure day, there were quite a few topics of interest that were discussed.

We've got a rundown of some those topics in this version of 49ers Notebook. Among the things we'll dive into here are what Brock Purdy said regarding his case to start at quarterback in 2023, as well as what defensive end Nick Bosa said about his offseason and if it will include watching the Super Bowl. In addition, we'll hear from offensive linemen and free agents-to-be Mike McGlinchey and Jake Brendel as they contemplate their future, while McGlinchey and George Kittle came to head coach Kyle Shanahan's defense when discussing the play against the Eagles that resulted in Purdy's elbow injury.

Plus left tackle Trent Williams was reserved when it came to his ejection at the end of the NFC Championship, while Kittle expressed his hopes for quarterback stability in 2023 and cornerback Deommodore Lenoir talked about a particularly important lesson he learned during the postseason.

Let's dive into it...

Brock Purdy mum on starting in 2023

There's no question that Brock Purdy made a seriously strong case to be the starting quarterback for the 49ers in 2023 after leading the team to the NFC Championship game, but on Tuesday he steered clear of saying he should be the frontrunner to grab the job when the time comes.

Purdy and the 49ers face uncertainty due to the elbow injury that temporarily knocked him out of the game against the Eagles and could keep him sidelined for at least six months. Trey Lance will get starter's reps at quarterback in the meantime (unless the 49ers decide to add someone new to the roster), but he will be coming off an injury of his own that ended his regular season after two games. So it's going to be a while before answers materialize for the 49ers at quarterback, and Purdy wasn't ready to do anything but put the decision in Shanahan's hands when asked about it Tuesday.

"I mean, for me, I just wanted to win at all costs," Purdy said. "Right when the team needed me that week against Miami, obviously for all the games that I played in and stuff, that was still my mindset was just to win and let everything else fall into place. So for me to claim or say anything in terms of what's going to happen moving forward, that's out of my control. I'm going to do what I can to get back healthy and be ready to compete come fall and just be ready for whatever coach asks me from that (point forward)."

Purdy said he and Shanahan had a discussion about his future on Monday but that it involved what needed to be done in terms of his rehab and recovery and not where he stood in the quarterback pecking order.

"We just sort of reflected about the season yesterday, and it was really more about what I can do to get healthy and what I have to do when I get back and all that kind of stuff," Purdy said. "But in terms of who's going to be the starter and who we're bringing in or any moves or anything like that, literally, we didn't cover any of that. And honestly, I didn't want to hear about anything. I just wanted to focus on my recovery right now and what I have to do for my arm moving forward, and that was that."

As of Tuesday, it was uncertain whether or not Purdy simply needed to repair his elbow through surgery or if he'll have to go through reconstruction, which would sideline him for even longer. Purdy's injury (torn ulnar collateral ligament) is much more common in baseball than it is among NFL quarterbacks, but his recovery isn't expected to be quite as lengthy as it would be if he played baseball.

"Yeah, it's a unique situation just because it's really like a baseball injury with a lot of baseball pitchers," Purdy said. "They face this kind of thing with the UCL. Guys that have this problem in football, really the quarterback situation, there hasn't been a lot of cases with it, but usually it's like a linebacker or an offensive lineman and then they can just brace it up and go play. But when you're throwing, it's a different situation.

"The way a quarterback throws compared to a pitcher, two different things. It's similar but more violent as a baseball player. So they're saying the recovery process could be a little bit faster as a quarterback. But definitely I've looked at guys that have gone through this kind of thing and I'm just trying to find what's right because everyone's situation is a little different and I'm trying to find out which one is right for myself."

Tuning out

Chances are most 49ers fans and players will be watching Super Bowl LVII between the Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs on February 12, despite the way the team's season came to an end on Sunday. Defensive end Nick Bosa will apparently not be joining them.

Bosa was asked Tuesday who he thought would win between Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. His answer suggested he'll have other plans come Super Bowl Sunday.

"That'll be a good battle that I will not be watching," Bosa said.

Bosa's name will come up a lot this offseason due to the expectation that he and the 49ers will be taking the coming months to hammer out a long-term contract extension (one that may make him the highest-paid defensive player in football). He's planning on letting his agent deal with that, and in the meantime he intends on taking some days off before getting back to season prep in Florida with his brother Joey and his trainer Todd Bell.

"I think this year I might take a little more time, but I say that and then I get the itch early, and I get home and I want to get going," Bosa said. "I'm going to have my guy Todd back in Florida who will be there when Joey heads down and then he'll be ready to roll when I'm ready to roll. And I'm sure he'll encourage me to take time. And I've already talked to my chef who is ready to go. But yeah, this year it's simple. We get the gym ready and everything's going to be ready."

Right now it seems like Bosa is trying to process the manner in which the season ended and still seemed to be down in the dumps a bit on Tuesday, but he'll bounce back soon enough.

"Yeah, every year is kind of a weird, depressing, confused state of about a week where you go from having just a mission and a schedule every single day to not knowing really what to do with yourself, and that's kind of where I'm at right now," Bosa said. "But it was an unbelievable season, and I think we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to build on, and I think there's going to be a lot of the same guys back, so that's exciting. It's obviously never the same group, which is what makes the NFL tough. Just got to appreciate life and keep living."

McGlinchey moves into wait-and-see mode

One of the most pressing offseason questions for the 49ers will be whether or not they re-sign right tackle Mike McGlinchey, whose rookie contract will be coming to an end after five seasons.

McGlinchey joined the 49ers as a first-round draft pick in 2018 and has had some inconsistencies over the years, but he's also a player the 49ers could want to keep around, if the price is right. He might command a hefty contract if he reaches free agency, so even though he'd like to stay with the 49ers, it wouldn't be surprising if the team decided to spend that money elsewhere.

"I think that they value me here," McGlinchey said Tuesday. "I think that they enjoy having me around and I think I can play football at a very high level. So everything's on the table. I think you got to keep a very open mind with this stuff, but you also have to be real about it too, because there's a lot of damn good football players in our locker room and a lot of them that need to be paid. And we certainly got one (Bosa) that's going to break the entire bank.

"So you got to see how the chips fall and like I said, be real with it. But yeah, everything's on the table, I'm sure."

Perhaps the 49ers might consider using the franchise tag on McGlinchey, which would keep him around for 2023 at a high cost but would allow the team to retain some flexibility in his case for the long term. McGlinchey isn't thrilled about that possibility but probably wouldn't fight it either.

"I mean, that's obviously something that I would not enjoy," McGlinchey said. "I would like some security, but that's not my decision whatsoever."

McGlinchey has been a popular target of criticism among a number of 49ers fans for some of the ups-and-downs he's had at right tackle, but he feels he proved his worth in 2022 after coming off a torn quadriceps injury that cost him much of the 2021 season.

"I think I played really complete football for majority of this year," McGlinchey said. "Obviously mistakes were made here and there, but I played great football and I'm confident in that. I know what I see with my eyes and try to block out what everybody else says and I know that when you watch the film that I'm a great player. And I can continue to play this at a high level and I can still get a lot better. That's what I'm most looking forward to in this next year.

"I feel like I'm just getting started. I got healthy and after missing training camp and started playing as good a football as I've ever played, and to be able to build on that for next season is exciting to me. And it's something that I'm very excited to have that mindset with going into offseason training and be able to actually train instead of rehab for ten months."

One player in McGlinchey's corner is Trent Williams, who would like to see the 49ers sign McGlinchey to a new deal. But he also wants to see McGlinchey get what's coming to him financially, even if it results in him playing elsewhere.

"Yeah, selfishly, I would definitely want to see him come back," Williams said. "But as a friend, as older brother or older mentor to Mike, older teammate, whatever you want to call it, I definitely want to see him get what he deserves. So I understand the business. If what he deserves out-prices himself for this locker room, then it sucks, but he deserves it. This is a violent game and it's a double-edged sword to take a discount just to be somewhere where you like it."

McGlinchey has been the right tackle since Williams joined the 49ers in 2019, and since then Williams has seen his friend make significant improvements as an NFL player.

"I think he's done a tremendous job," Williams said. "I think he's from the time I stepped in this locker room to now, I think it's night and day what kind of player he's developed into and what type of player he's become. I'm happy for him that you get to this point in your career where you can be a free agent and you're able to see your value and see what your work translates into on the open market.

"And I'm happy for him to enjoy this process. But to answer your question, I would love to see him come back in his locker room. I hope we can do whatever we can to keep him, but if we can't, I'm happy for him. I love him. I want to see the best for him."

If the 49ers choose not to re-sign McGlinchey, it could mean the next man up will be Colton McKivitz, a 2020 fifth-round pick who the team may envision as McGlinchey's successor, according to 49ers beat reporter Matt Maiocco. Williams said McKivitz and 2021 fifth-round pick Jaylon Moore have his confidence if either one of them are called upon to start next season.

"He worked his butt off," Williams said of McKivitz. "I think he put in the type of work and he made the type of leaps and bounds that everybody recognizes, not just your offensive line mates or your offensive line coach, but I think everybody has seen the jump that he's made, seen how good of a player he is and how good of a player he will be. So we have full faith in Colton, may that be the case, and Jaylon as well. Both of those guys have got a very high ceiling, and the more ball they play, the better they're going to become, especially with experience."

And what about Brendel?

The 49ers also need to make a decision about starting center Jake Brendel, who just finished his first NFL season as a starter after having a journeyman type of beginning to his career. The 30-year-old Brendel performed solidly in 2022 and won't be as expensive to keep as McGlinchy, should the 49ers choose to bring him back. Brendel hopes the 49ers do exactly that, although he's got other important priorities he'll have to consider when making his decision.

"That's the hope," Brendel said Tuesday. "I mean, you still got to hit free agency and see what that is, and I have a kid now. It's going to be a hard decision, but hopefully we can definitely get something figured out."

Brendel had to wait a long time for his shot to start after joining the league as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2016. But the opportunity presented itself in 2022 after the retirement of previous starting center Alex Mack, and Brendel made the most of it.

"I think it's just really tough to get the opportunity to start if you're an undrafted guy," Brendel said. "I think (offensive line coach Chris Foerster) has had the idea of me starting for a long time. He just didn't have the opportunity yet, and he gave me a fair shot to earn the position this preseason, and I just ran with it. So, I mean, I feel like I've been getting better each week. Obviously, the more reps you get during games, the more you've seen, the more you can build off of. So I truly feel like it's just going to get better from here."

Don't blame Coach

Kyle Shanahan has been getting some second-guessing since Sunday over the play where Purdy got injured due to the fact the 49ers had tight end Tyler Kroft blocking pass rusher Haason Reddick, whose hit on Purdy after beating Kroft knocked him out of the game. Some wondered why Kroft was given the task of blocking Reddick, who had 16 sacks and five forced fumbles during the regular season. McGlinchey came to his coach's defense on Tuesday, telling reporters it's foolish to think it was a bad decision.

"There's a lot of different thought processes behind it," McGlinchey said. "I think it was a play action game and we make a good living in play action on our team because of how we can run the football. It was a base situation and the guy took a chance and he rushed the passer instead of playing the base run. And that's the way it happens sometimes. Our tight ends are extremely capable of doing these things and it wasn't even that he got beat all that clean. It's just a longer developing play that takes some time and it's the way it happens. To say that it's a stupid decision is insane to me and it's just somebody that doesn't really understand how to build a game plan throughout football.

"It's the first quarter for a second drive maybe, and all your base stuff is still up and on a first and second down to call play pass. It's not anything out of the ordinary, and we do it a lot. And it's something that obviously there's always great criticisms when the clicker's in somebody's hand and those things can happen. But, yeah, there was no second thought about that. That was just a freak thing that happened."

Tight end George Kittle gave a defense of Kroft on Tuesday, saying he believes any tight end on the team has the ability to block in that situation.

"I believe that Kroft can make that block for the timing that you need to make the block for," Kittle said. "It didn't happen. That's football. I mean, they've got good guys, we've got good guys.

"I think I've seen some flack. Like, why would you ever put a tight end on them? I'm pretty sure I had two pass pros against him where I shut him down. Again, you pay me a lot more money than you pay the next guy, and that's why the reason you pay me. But I still believe in my teammates to be able to make those blocks. So it's unfortunate, but everyone's going to come to Kyle for that saying, "Why are you leaving a tight end on a defense end?" People do it. It's just on that play didn't work very well."

One QB would be nice

When discussing the quarterback situation on Tuesday, Kittle raised an interesting fact that many might not have considered when looking back on his NFL career. Since joining the 49ers in 2017, Kittle has only had one season where he's had the same quarterback for every game. That season was 2019, which was the only season where Jimmy Garoppolo was under center from start to finish. Other than that, Kittle has had to adjust to a number of changes at quarterback due to injuries and the trade of Garoppolo from the Patriots to the 49ers in 2017.

"I've had a six-year career. I've had one year with one quarterback. Super fun," Kittle said with some sarcasm. "2019. Other than that, I've had two or more. Four out of six have had three or more. It's awesome. It's an experience. I just love a plethora of quarterbacks to choose from."

He won't know for a while who his starting quarterback will be in 2023, but whoever it is, he'd like it to be the same guy all season long.

"Yeah, I mean, why not?" Kittle said. "It is what it is. Like, again, I'm going to show up, but, yeah, being able to build some rapport with someone consistently would be very fun.

"And that's not Jimmy's fault, that's not Trey's fault, that's not Brock's. I mean, it's just a situation we're in and for some reason our quarterback position gets hurt sometimes and it's unfortunate, but it is what it is and you just got to deal with it and we've been dealing with it for a while, so hopefully we can eliminate that bug and just play quarterback."

A step forward for Lenoir

After an up-and-down rookie season in 2021 that saw him figure into the cornerback situation early in the year before being called upon sparingly as the season came to a close, Deommodore Lenoir wound up playing a much bigger role for the 49ers in 2022. Lenoir played in all 17 games in 2022 and made 13 starts while totaling 79 tackles, five passes defensed and one interception. He stepped up in the postseason in particular by pulling in interceptions in the Wild Card and Divisional Playoff rounds and played solidly overall after it was expected that teams would likely try to attack him throughout the postseason as a potential vulnerable spot in the 49ers' secondary.

Lenoir proved something important to himself during the postseason that should carry over into 2023 and beyond.

"That I could play, really," Lenoir said. "I know I wasn't making a lot of plays on the ball within the whole start of the season, but I just think I have to get comfortable and then just start believing in myself more."

And now, after what he just did in the playoffs, Lenoir thinks he can stay in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future.

"Yes, for sure," Lenoir said. "I believe it. I think everybody else believes it now that I showed up in the postseason."

No second thoughts

Trent Williams drew plenty of reaction on Sunday when he was ejected from the NFC Championship game for slamming Eagles defensive back K'Von Wallace to the ground, but it doesn't sound like he's thought about it as much as others have.

Williams let his frustrations boil over late in the game when players from both teams were getting in each other's faces after a play. When Wallace wouldn't back away from other 49ers players, Williams grabbed him from behind and threw him to the turf.

'It was just very brief time during the whole process," Williams said Tuesday. "I haven't thought much about it since then, honestly. But it's whatever. We compete, tempers flare, things happen. Never even thought about it since then."

Williams seemed a bit down in general Tuesday, when among other things he didn't seem to discount the possibility of retiring sooner rather than later. Like other 49ers players, he regretted seeing this team's chances come to an end the way they did on Sunday.

"Obviously, it sucks to not accomplish everything you want to accomplish, but realistically, I think any football team can win the game without a quarterback," Williams said. "We got dealt with crazy deck of cards on Sunday, a crazy hand on Sunday, and it sucks. I think this team worked way too hard and you hate to see it end that way."

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