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Cary Edmondson/Brett Davis/Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Managing expectations for 49ers’ Brock Purdy

Chris Beno
Aug 18, 2023 at 7:00 AM--

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Assuming second-year QB Brock Purdy is fully healthy, he will undoubtedly be the 49ers' starting QB in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Purdy underwent surgery on March 10 to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow after sustaining the injury against the Philadelphia Eagles the prior season in the NFC Championship Game.

The 49ers have since cleared Purdy for play at the start of training camp, where he has received the majority of first-team reps. Purdy also participated in all three practices this week, leading up to the second preseason game against the Denver Broncos.

While doing an interview with KNBR, head coach Kyle Shanahan hinted that there might be a chance Purdy gets some playing time on Saturday.

"We plan on Sam going the first half still," Shanahan said. "We just finished practice here, so I'm going to talk to the trainers with the rest of our team and everything. I might get Brock in there for a little bit. I have not finalized that yet, but thinking about playing the ones, for possibly a series, a little in the first quarter.

"But whatever that is, if we don't (play Purdy), Sam will have the whole first half. And if those guys do open the game with Brock and some of the ones, it probably won't be much longer than a series or two."

Given the injury and the limited number of starts that Purdy has had in his young NFL career, it's bold to assume that he will return to form right away. Purdy was nothing short of amazing last season after being forced to step in for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in a Week 13 matchup against the red-hot Miami Dolphins.

The 49ers never looked back, riding the coattails of a new and improved version of Garoppolo all the way to the NFC Championship. Purdy was nothing short of incredible last season since taking over as the starter in Week 14. He showed poise in the pocket and threw for 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in the regular season with a QBR of 107.3, per Pro Football Focus. Sure, there were some passes that got lucky. But that's football. There's always an element of luck.

In a recent interview, Shanahan talked to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer about Purdy keeping his job as a starter.

"He would have to melt in practice to lose it," Shanahan said. "And Brock's too good of a player to melt in practice—and so are the other guys."

Fighting for the backup QB positions are Trey Lance, Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen. Lance and Darnold have had their share of struggles in the NFL. Lance is still young and raw. He was a known "project" QB prior to the 49ers drafting him #3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Lance has battled injuries and has yet to fully capitalize on his limited opportunities with the 49ers. What he really needs for his development are reps, which are currently being split between with three other QB's.

Darnold has had his fair share of demons since he was drafted third overall by the New York Jets in 2018. Since that time, Darnold has amassed 55 career interceptions with a career passing rate of 78.2.

Allen was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. After bouncing around to multiple teams and playing in a backup role, Allen found his way to the 49ers this off-season fighting for a spot on the roster.

Chances are the 49ers will only carry three QB's this season, none of whom would likely clear waivers and land on the practice squad.

The question I have is how comfortable are the 49ers with their QB room if Purdy really isn't quite ready to go? What if there's some soreness, or he comes back down to Earth and some of that luck has run out? What if defenses start figuring him out?

Purdy only started eight games, so it might be smart to pump the brakes on expectations for him. To crown him the starter no matter what might have made sense had he not gotten hurt and required major surgery on his throwing arm. At a minimum, he earned a QB competition for the starter spot. Give guys like Lance, who the 49ers have heavily invested in, a legitimate fair shot at winning the job.

The 49ers are now in year seven of Shanahan's tenure as head coach, and once again the most important position in football remains a question mark.
  • Chris Beno
  • Written by:
    Coming from Elk Grove, California I grew up a Bay Area sports fan. I've been cheering for the 49ers for as long as I can remember. In 2005 I joined the Army when I was 18 and got stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I just kind of hung around here. I've always enjoyed writing and have typically focus on writing music. I am truly blessed to get to cover the 49ers, and have my articles published on the 49ers Webzone. I appreciate all of the Faithful that take the time to read the articles that myself and other contributors put out there. The 49ers have without a doubt the best fanbase, and best content creators around.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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