As the San Francisco 49ers gear up for the second half of OTAs, fans have been carefully keeping track of the team’s quarterback competition to see if there are any inklings as to which signal-caller is or isn’t pulling out to an early lead and if anyone can unseat incumbent starter Brock Purdy, who is currently out recovering from UCL surgery.
One person who has a closer seat to this competition than most is Christian McCaffrey, who has now taken hand-offs from all three of the team’s options, Purdy, Trey Lance, and Sam Darnold from their time together with the Carolina Panthers.
Sitting down for an interview with Rich Eisen on his eponymous show, Purdy was asked how he feels the quarterback competition is shaking out, with the Pro Bowl stalwart noting that, at least in his opinion, there isn’t a bad option among the bunch.
“I talk about Brock and what he did last year, and not just how he played, but the way he carried himself, he’s built to be a quarterback in this league,” McCaffrey said via Niners Nation. “I didn’t get to play with Trey last year, but from what I’ve seen so far, Trey has been great. He’s been awesome. And obviously, I’ve played with Sam, and I know what Sam can do, and seeing all the things that he’s been doing this OTAs, too. I think, for us, it’s nice knowing that we have three great options. Like I said, I don’t know who the quarterback is going to be. And frankly, my job is just to be as ready to go as I can for whoever it is. But I just know that we’re in good hands no matter what.”
After giving Lance even more praise elsewhere on Eisen’s program, it’s clear McCaffrey is happy to be a member of the Niners no matter who takes snaps under center, likely because he’ll be one of Kyle Shanahan’s featured performers regardless of who hands him off the ball.
Tim Kawakami Weighs-In on SF’s Non-QB Competition
Evaluating the 49ers’ quarterback depth chart for The Athletic, Tim Kawakami noted that, at least in his opinion, Purdy is the internal favorite to start for San Francisco when healthy unless one of the team’s other options definitively takes the role.
“Purdy is QB1. Nothing is guaranteed or permanent in football, but the entire premise of the 49ers’ QB situation, at this point, is that Purdy is first among equals because he earned it last December and January,” Kawakami wrote. “Everything else — Lance’s practice time, Darnold’s arrival, the blurry timeline for Purdy’s return to full-go action — is about caution, not uncertainty.”
A stalwart of the San Francisco sports medial landscape for nearly 20 years, few opinions on the 49ers hold as much weight as Kawakami’s, so much so that he was named the Editor in Chief of The Athletic’s San Francisco coverage in 2017. If he thinks the 49ers’ competition isn’t really a competition, then maybe some fans and national outlets alike are playing too into the optics and creating drama where there isn’t any internally.
The San Francisco 49ers May Have Brock Purdy Back Soon
Asked by reporters if he has any hope of being ready for Week 1 during OTAs, Purdy noted that his arm is feeling good and he won’t rule it out.
“Yeah, I feel good, arm is feeling good,” Purdy said. “To say I’m going to be ready by this time or this time, we’re not trying to label any kind of timeline like that. For sure though, that’s a goal. You want to be ready for the season, and if that’s the case, great. But we’re just taking it one day at a time and don’t want to say anything that we regret down the road or whatever.”
The prospect of a quarterback competition between Lance and Darnold was largely predicated on the idea that Purdy may not be back until midseason or potentially even later. If, however, Purdy is healthy enough to go in early September, even if it’s not necessarily for Week 1, makes that conversation largely null and void, as, in the opinion of Kawakami and others, Mr. Irrelevant has always been the favorite for the job.