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Why George Kittle says 49ers need a QB competition between Brock Purdy and Trey Lance

Feb 11, 2023 at 10:30 AM

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This week, George Kittle said the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback job is Brock Purdy's to lose.

"He's fantastic," Kittle said of Purdy during a conversation with Bleacher Report. "Our offense was operating at the highest it's probably been since 2019. So, in my opinion, it's Brock's job to lose."

That doesn't mean the star tight end believes the job should be handed to the 23-year-old signal caller. The 49ers have another quarterback they believe in, Trey Lance. Acquiring him wasn't cheap. The team had to give up a lot of draft capital to put itself in a position to get Lance.

"I'm not going to say if [Purdy] would have stayed in the entire [NFC Championship Game against the Eagles] that I'm going to guarantee a victory," Kittle told Rich Eisen this week. "I'm confident in my team that we would have won the game. It's not how it happened. It is what it is, and I'll live with that. It is whatever it is. … But I think it's hard just to say, 'Hey, Brock, thank you for the eight games, your 1,300 yards, your three interceptions, and winning eight straight games.' I think it's definitely like a 1A, 1B thing. I think you have to do the competition because they're still both young quarterbacks."

Purdy will miss about six months after undergoing ligament surgery in his right elbow on February 22, so it isn't likely going to be a true quarterback competition between Purdy and Lance. Of course, that will allow Lance the opportunity to prove he can return to the starting lineup.

"I still think, well, Trey's going to get all the OTA's reps, right?" Kittle continued. "He's going to get all the spring reps because Brock won't get them. And when we get to training camp, depending where Brock is, like, you don't know if he's going to be ready to go day one in training camp. I hope he is. If not, though, it needs to be a little bit of a competition there. But if you're starting tomorrow, it's hard to say you're going to bench Brock Purdy after what he did this whole season, and that's nothing against Trey.

"Trey hasn't had a fair shot by any means, right? He played one game in 2021 against the Houston Texans, and he played at a high enough level for us to win the game. And he got one start against the Bears in a monsoon that wasn't even a football game. People forget that. There was one quarter of light rain, and after that you couldn't throw the football. And in the second game (this season) he got hurt, right? So he hasn't really gotten a fair shot, and that's kind of what football is. You just have to make the most of your opportunities."

Lance entered Week 1 as the 49ers' starting quarterback. Nearly five quarters into the season, he suffered an ankle injury and was done for the year. Lance expects to be full-go by organized team activities (OTAs) in May, making him the healthiest quarterback under contract. Jimmy Garoppolo and Josh Johnson are scheduled to hit free agency.

"Stuff happens, injuries happen," Kittle added. "But I know, Trey, the type of person he is and the work that I've seen him put in, that he's hungry, and all he wants to do is go out there and show why we drafted him at number three. That's all he wants to do, and he has the ability to do that. So we're all rooting for Trey. We want Trey to come out there and get all these reps and to be a great quarterback. So it's going to be a fun competition."

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