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Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Baldy: Brock Purdy is clearly the 49ers’ best QB, Trey Lance looked rusty

Aug 15, 2023 at 11:43 AM--

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One thing was made clear during Sunday's preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders: Brock Purdy is clearly the San Francisco 49ers' best quarterback ... and he didn't even play.

Trey Lance, Sam Darnold, and Brandon Allen played. No one from that group was impressive, leaving the QB2 job wide open. Of course, some will argue that Lance, the former No. 3 overall pick, played so poorly that he has fallen behind. Luckily for the third-year quarterback, there is still time to strengthen his case in the preseason.

Whether he plays during the preseason or not, a healthy Purdy will be the 49ers' Week 1 starter. His coach, Kyle Shanahan, believes in the second-year player.

"Brock's the real deal," Shanahan said earlier this month. "He knows how to play, and we just got to have our team keep getting better, and he'll keep getting better as we go."

Purdy, stepping in for injured Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, took the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game as a rookie. Shanahan and company saw enough in the young quarterback to anoint him as the starter going forward.

Is Purdy clearly the best quarterback on the 49ers roster?

"I think so," analyst Brian Baldinger said Tuesday morning on 95.7 The Game.

While Purdy has only eight starts under his belt, Baldinger says, "I think we saw a pretty good sample size of a guy that knows how to play the position."

And the analyst doesn't want to hear the naysayers' comments about anyone being able to play quarterback within Shanahan's system or on a roster as loaded as the 49ers', downplaying what Purdy accomplished last season.

"Well, when you don't make the throws with anticipation, and you don't make the right pre-snap read, what we saw from the quarterback play of the 49ers (on Sunday) is what happens when you don't play the game the right way, regardless who the offensive line or the receivers are.

"This is a highly, highly skilled position for a reason. And if you don't play it with precision, it looks like a rusty bucket, like it did the other night."

Speaking of rusty, that brings us to Baldinger's evaluation of the 49ers' former No. 3 overall pick, Trey Lance, and how the third-year quarterback performed against the Raiders.

"It was very rusty," Baldinger said. "I mean, there was times when he drops back, and he throws it, and you're like, that's what a quarterback should look like. But it was few and far between. He threw two to the other team, never saw the defender. One ended up being a touchdown to [TE] Ross Dwelley.

"But it was not an impressive performance. I mean, you get sacked in the first play, it's a three-step drop. You've got to make the throw. You pull it down, try and go to your second read. The line just collapsed around him. I just thought he was rusty. There's times you got to throw this ball, you just have to throw it with anticipation. You have to throw it to where the receiver is going to be, and he didn't trust it yet. And so that's why I believe he was rusty.

"I'm not going to get too crazy about it because I didn't think either quarterback (Lance or Darnold) played well. I didn't think the offense played well outside of maybe one player (WR Ronnie Bell), and even he had some mistakes. But it just wasn't an impressive performance all the way around."

Is it too early for the 49ers to write off Lance? The team gave up a lot of draft capital to acquire him in 2021. Can something be salvaged?

"The talent is still there," Baldinger shared. "I mean, he can still run. He's still strong. He still has a strong arm. I mean, that is still there. The talent is there. Now, he's playing behind a backup offensive line and trying to find different players, whatever. I mean, that doesn't help him at all. None of his receivers are out there that he was going to throw to if he was out there on Sunday against Pittsburgh on September 10."

It's more likely that Lance will be on the sideline during Week 1. Assuming Purdy is fully recovered from offseason surgery to repair the torn UCL in his right elbow, it will be the second-year quarterback on the field against the Steelers.

Lance's future remains up in the air. He will look to turn things around on Saturday against the Denver Broncos.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Baldinger below.

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