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Mike Martz expects 49ers to own top offense in 2023, predicts starting QB

May 18, 2023 at 2:32 PM--

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Mike Martz coached the record-breaking Greatest Show on Turf during his time with the then-St. Louis Rams. He spent one season as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. Now, he contributes to The 33rd Team, a site that relies on former players, executives, coaches, and others to produce NFL content for the masses.

In his latest feature, Martz predicted the top five offenses in 2023. The 49ers came in at the top spot, thanks partly to Martz's great respect for head coach Kyle Shanahan, who he calls "the best offensive mind in the NFL."

"The 49ers will be the top offense because they are a step ahead of everyone else," Martz explained. "Even without a star quarterback last season, they scored a lot of points (26.5 per game, sixth most). I love what Shanahan does and how they approach the quarterback position."

He added, "When you look at what they do with the quarterbacks, how ahead of the curve they are with their formations and how they run the ball, there is no question about it."

While the 49ers are rich with talented playmakers on offense, names like Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle, some uncertainty remains at the quarterback position. Last year's surprise rookie sensation, Brock Purdy, is returning from a major surgery that will force the quarterback to miss most—possibly all—of the offseason. Purdy underwent surgery on March 10 to repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear in his right elbow.

That leaves Trey Lance and Sam Darnold to compete to start Week 1 if Purdy is not cleared to play. The two will split offseason reps once organized team activities begin next week.

Martz went on to predict the 49ers' starting quarterback.

"I believe Darnold will start," Martz wrote. "He was a highly talented guy coming out of college. He was put in a couple of tough situations with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers. Now, he's with a solid offensive staff and a coach who is brilliant with quarterbacks. The 49ers are an extremely talented team, and Darnold being the starter would be a good thing. They are primed to have a great season."

The 49ers went through four quarterbacks last season, with three different ones starting games. Lance entered the season as the starter but suffered a season-ending ankle injury during Week 2. Then, Jimmy Garoppolo took over but suffered a broken foot during Week 13. That left the last overall pick in the 2022 draft to fill in. Purdy guided the 49ers to eight consecutive wins before suffering his injury during the NFC Championship Game.

"The San Francisco 49ers were fifth in total offense last season, and they started three quarterbacks, including the last player picked in the 2022 NFL Draft, Brock Purdy," Martz wrote. "The fact those quarterbacks played at a high level when two of them, Trey Lance and Purdy, had little and no NFL experience is impressive."

The Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Buffalo Bills round out Martz's top five.

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