A year ago, all we did was talk about the quarterback competition. Would Trey Lance beat out Jimmy Garoppolo? How would the season end if the Niners started the rookie over a veteran? Instead, we’ll see what Lance has in store for the 2022 season, as he’s the presumed starter.
The 49ers gave Nate Sudfeld $2 million guaranteed this offseason. For a team that was and is still up against the cap as it decides what to do with Garoppolo’s future, that’s a significant deal for Sudfeld.
For a backup quarterback, sure, you want them to be competent if needed to play in a pinch. But a lot of their work comes behind closed doors, in meetings, and during the game situations where they can help the starter in between series.
What if the third-string quarterback is better? Larry Krueger was at minicamp last week, and he believes 49ers seventh-round pick Brock Purdy looked worlds better than Sudfeld:
I thought Trey was going to be the 1, Sudfeld was going to be the 2, and Purdy was going to be the 3. But, after watching a couple of days of minicamp, I’m a believer that Purdy is going to be the 2 and Sudfeld is going to be the 3. I would be almost shocked if it didn’t end up that way.
Let’s say Purdy beats out Sudfeld. That means the Niners would have $2 million sitting there. That’s a mistake. Money has to matter in this decision. San Francisco knows what they have in Sudfeld. They can’t say the same for Purdy.
When it was time for the third-string offense to practice last training camp, reps were cut short as they would get next to nothing accomplished with Sudfeld taking snaps. The way Larry made it sound, that didn’t change much last week, while Purdy stood out:
You can see Purdy has played a lot of football. He’s very calm. He’s in control. He has a little bit better arm than Nick Mullens. The ball has a little bit more zip. The comparison to Mullens might not be as apt here. He looks better than Nick Mullens.
Based on the two days that I saw, he looks like the most accurate quarterback they have. He throws a very catchable ball. He has a little mobility. He knows how to play. The ball comes out on time. He seems mentally, very, very smart. He’s processing very quickly. He seems in total poise. There’s a lot of things to like.
To me, I think there’s no doubt he’ll beat out Sudfeld. He’ll be given the job coming out of preseason. But coming out, I think it’ll be Purdy.
Purdy will have every opportunity to win the job, despite Sudfeld’s contract. I’d expect Lance to receive the bulk of the reps in training camp. Let’s say the offense has ten plays, then Trey would get six or seven reps, with the other two splitting the remaining reps.
But in preseason games, Purdy, as the unknown, will be playing the majority of the second half. If he has the requisite arm strength and his mobility translates, it’s not out of the question to think he’ll beat out Sudfeld, whose play leaves plenty to be desired.