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Breer: ‘The Niners are hoping for a healthy competition between Lance and Darnold’

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer believes both quarterbacks have a chance to move the 49ers off their stance that Brock Purdy is QB1 this offseason.

NFL: JAN 16 NFC Wild Card - 49ers at Cowboys Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Wednesday, we tried to make sense of the 49ers quarterback situation. Trey Lance and Sam Darnold have separate sample sizes, but both will be given a chance to compete for the starting quarterback spot, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

That came a day after general manager John Lynch said Brock Purdy has earned the right to be QB1.

Here’s what Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer had to say on The Rich Eisen Show Thursday afternoon pertaining to what’s going on with the 49ers thought process at quarterback, and why competition should be viewed as healthy:

“He needs reps, OK. Like, Trey Lance needs to play. If you look at the number of throws he’s had since relative to 2019. That number is so small. Here’s the problem the Niners are facing.

Last year they were going to sacrifice his development. Not sacrifice, But the feeling at the beginning of the summer was that Jimmy was the better quarterback, and we believe, with reps, Trey will be the better quarterback by December and January, and we’ll be rolling into the playoffs.

And now I think they’re at the point where that team is in a win-now operation. If you look at the way that they’re set up, and now they have this other option in Brock Purdy, they can’t afford to throw another season overboard for a quarterback’s development — especially when there’s another good option on the roster.

So, I think what they want to see from Trey Lance is, it’s up to you. You can make this difficult on us. And we’re not handing you anything this time. And it sucks. It’s not his fault. I think they still love him as a person.

I think they still believe he can get there if they gave him a full year to develop with reps and everything else. I think they’re past the point where they’re willing to make the sacrifice and let all of this happen in the name of his development.

I think the injury opened the door for both Trey Lance to develop and Sam Darnold to resuscitate his career. Those guys are going to come in. And I think the Niners are hoping for a healthy competition between those two while Brock Purdy is getting healthy. And really, it’s up to those two to make John Lynch or Kyle Shanahan change their mind.

But as of right now, I can tell ya, that there’s strong belief that Brock Purdy can be a really good starting quarterback in the NFL. It really is on Lance and Darnold to move the 49ers brass off that spot.”

Ten different people could listen to what Lynch and Shanahan had to say this past week and come up with ten separate outcomes.

My take was, in a perfect world, Lance shows enough where the 49ers could re-coup draft assets for Lance by either the trade deadline or during the offseason in 2023. The team appears to be all-in on Purdy now that he will be healthy for the majority of the regular season.

It’s understandable why a coach who has suffered the fate of Shanahan isn’t willing to be patient for Lance to develop. Unfortunately, Trey has been equally unlucky early in his career, and we may never get to see the No. 3 overall pick at his best in a potent offense.

When Breer says Lance and Darnold had a chance to change the minds of the powers that be in the 49ers organization, I believe him. Competition should bring the best out of both.

Darnold has started 55 games in the NFL. It’d be troublesome if he can’t beat out Lance, who has started 4 and hasn’t played a full season since 2019. The same could be said for Trey, who was hand-picked by the head coach, who happens to call plays for the offense. Oh, and he was willing to give up multiple first-round picks to do so.

Lance needs to leave no room for the 49ers imagination. Trey must prove to Shanahan and the rest of the team that he’s a leader and is in full control of the offense and the playbook. Gradual progression might not be enough at this point, which is why this topic is impossible to discuss.

We all have our opinions, and mine is that moving on from Lance with the way the 49ers offense is structured would be a grave mistake.

We have no idea what Shanahan/Lynch want to see out of either Lance or Darnold. There may not be an answer, which is why all we can do is watch the story play itself out.