49ers Secure Crucial QB Depth Behind Jimmy Garoppolo: Report

Kurt Benkert, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Kurt Benkert stiff-arming a Boston College defender.

With Trey Lance officially placed on injured reserve with a broken ankle, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch opted to further fortify his quarterback position with the addition of Kurt Benkert, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.

A fifth-year pro who had previous stops in Atlanta and Green Bay, Benkert was released by the Packers in June and, after failing to find a new home for the summer, now finds himself with a spot on the 49ers practice squad, where he will serve as QB3 behind Jimmy Garoppolo and 2022 seventh-round pick Brock Purdy.

If the Niners believe that Purdy is ready to shoulder a bigger role moving forward, the addition of Benkert may prove to be nothing more than additional depth as the game’s most important position. However, if the Iowa State product needs more seasoning before he’s ready to be a play away from full-time action, then Benkert may find himself elevated to the active roster in time for Week 3 and a full-time member of the Niners when a spot on the 53-man roster opens up.

Few Expected Kurt Benkert to Succeed Coming Out Of College

A two-star recruit coming out of high school, Benkert received four scholarship offers according to ESPN, including from USF, UCF, and Western Kentucky, before ultimately committing to play his college ball for Eastern Carolina.

After appearing in just three games as a redshirt freshman in 2014, Benkert was in-line to start for the Pirates in 2015 before suffering an untimely ACL tear that robbed him of the entire season. From there, Benkert graduate transferred to Virginia, where he amassed 5,817 yards and 42 touchdowns versus just 21 interceptions and set the single-season program records for passing yards (3,207), completions (298), attempts (509), 200+-yard passing games (nine) and total offense (3,144).

Still, all of this on-field success wasn’t enough to get Benkert drafted, as, despite garnering a sixth-seventh round grade from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, he ultimately ended up signing with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent.

“Gunslinger who holsters an NFL-caliber right arm but needs to work on his marksmanship and decision making,” Zierlein wrote in his draft profile. “Benkert’s completion totals are disappointing on intermediate throws, deep throws, and against the blitz. He has the arm talent to make all the throws but hasn’t shown signs of becoming accurate enough to ever been anything more than a backup at best.”

Fortunately, Benkert’s live arm has kept him gainfully employed at the NFL level ever since. Spending most of his time on the practice squad, Benkert has been afforded chances to learn under Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers, and soon, the 27-year-old will be able to add the name Garoppolo to that list too.

The 49ers Have Spoken Highly of Purdy in the Past

When asked about Purdy making the 53-man roster coming out of training camp, Kyle Shanahan had nothing but praise for the reigning Mr. Irrelevant.

“Credit to Brock, how good Brock played in this preseason,” Shanahan told his team’s official website. “I thought he was going to be on our practice squad, because we were real happy with Nate, but Brock won that job and we were going to go into the year with him as the number two. And we were good with that, because that’s what he earned. But then for Jimmy to be available and to know that we could have Jimmy with that experience and what he’s done in the past come in as a number two.

“I don’t think we’ve gone through a year yet here where the quarterback has played in every single game. Maybe in ’19. Yeah, ’19 was the only year. So whoever that backup is, is a huge deal and we were excited to go with Brock, but to have a veteran come through like Jimmy, who has proven himself in this league, how good of a quarterback he is. I can’t think of a better situation.”

After keeping his head down and doing his best to showcase his talents during the preseason, Purdy is presumably now one play away from seeing the field and becoming the most relevant Mr. Irrelevant in the award’s history.

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