49ers’ Trey Lance Linked to AFC South Playoff Hopefuls

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

2-01-2023 Trey Lance under center for the San Francisco 49ers.

As fans and pundits alike begin to dive into the wealth of potential moves the San Francisco 49ers could execute come March, when the 2023 NFL calendar year officially begins, some have already begun discussing the prospects of trading away Trey Lance, the North Dakota State product John Lynch traded up to select in the 2023 NFL draft. Though the thought of moving off of Lance this early in his career may be a tough pill to swallow, especially for a deal that comes in at quarters on the dollar versus the original asking price, some, like The Athletic’s Mike Sando, have begun to put out feelers to front office execs about moving off of the soon-to-be third-year quarterback in order to load up on draft assets to build around another signal caller.

“I think they will trade Trey Lance to Tennessee and then they will end up with (Tom) Brady and Brady will play one year for his home team, and they will have Brock Purdy as the backup,” an exec from another team predicted Sunday. “That is the chatter. They have the defense already, Brady wants to win one more, and this is right up the 49ers’ alley.”

Now for fans who haven’t been keeping up with the team since their crushing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game, the current “it” rumor, spurned on by Sando and others, is that Kyle Shanahan could finally bring Brady back to the Bay Area for one final shot at a Super Bowl ring before he transitions out of the game and into his 10-year, $375 million announcing gig at Fox Sports. If that happens, the Niners may opt to do what that exec suggested, trade Lance for a pick or two and use Purdy as Brady’s backup.

Peter King’s Solution to the San Francisco 49ers’ QB Situation

In his Football Morning in America column for NBC Sports, Peter King wrote about how he would address the 49ers’ current quarterback situation

“I think if I’m Kyle Shanahan, I tell Brock Purdy and Trey Lance they’re going to training camp as 1a (Purdy) and 1b (Lance),” King wrote. “And it’s not impossible for Lance to unseat Purdy, but life goes on, and Purdy’s eight wins down the stretch of this season can’t be discounted.”

Sando, too, was told the Niners could pursue a QB competition with Purdy and Lance, with an NFL agent suggesting that the prospects of a Lance trade may simply prove to be too complicated.

“They’ll let Jimmy G walk, have Purdy compete with Lance, and the job will be Purdy’s to lose,” an agent who represents other quarterbacks predicted Sunday. “They’ll be open to a Lance trade, knowing that is a long shot. Purdy is so much cheaper than Jimmy, they can add players around Purdy now and maybe still develop Lance.”

Trey Lance Would be an Interesting fit in Tennessee

As things presently stand, the Tennessee Titans only have two quarterbacks under contract in 2023, according to Spotrac, in Ryan Tannehill, the team’s long-time veteran starter who turns 35 in July, and Malik Willis, a 2022 third-round pick out of Liberty who finished out 2022 with an overall PFF rating of 51.9.

As crazy as it may sound, Lance is actually younger than Willis, born in 2000 versus the Liberty product’s 1999, and is still probably considered a better prospect due to his NFL experience despite suffering through a string of injuries as a rookie and second-year pro. Would the Titans trade away draft capital to give Lance a shot to learn behind Tannehill for a year before taking over as their starting QB in 2024, something similar to the deal Philadelphia netted for Carson Wentz, perhaps? It’s impossible to know, but with no chance to draft one of the top-2 quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL draft unless they trade up, the Titans may view this or a similar move as an opportunity to secure their quarterback of the future on a discount, much like how Tannehill came to the Music City in 2019.

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