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49ers GM: Purdy 'earned the right' to start in 2023 over Lance

Kevin Sabitus / Getty Images Sport / Getty

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said Monday that Brock Purdy is in the driver's seat to be the team's starting quarterback over Trey Lance heading into the 2023 season.

"Brock has earned the right with the way he played that he's probably the leader in the clubhouse at that," Lynch said, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "I'll let (coach) Kyle (Shanahan) make those kinds of decisions, but I know when we talk, Brock has probably earned that right to be the guy. If we were to line up, he'd probably take that first snap."

Purdy began last season as San Francisco's third-string quarterback after entering the NFL as the last pick in the 2022 draft. However, he stepped up and helped the 49ers reach the NFC title game as the NFC's No. 2 seed after both Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo went down with season-ending injuries.

Lance, the club's starter in the season opener, suffered an ankle ailment in Week 2, while Garoppolo was sidelined in Week 13. Garoppolo signed with the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason.

Lance, whom the 49ers drafted third overall in 2021, has started only four games since entering the league. He was Garoppolo's backup for most of his rookie campaign.

San Francisco also added veteran quarterback Sam Darnold in free agency this year.

"We've always said we don't care where you were drafted, if you were drafted, that's always been our stance," Lynch said. "... We're still very excited about Trey but I think the way Brock played, he probably has earned that right to be the guy. But it's certainly a competition, we'll always have that."

Purdy is battling an injury of his own, though, as he suffered a complete tear of the UCL in his throwing elbow in the NFC title game. The 23-year-old underwent surgery this offseason and is expected to begin throwing again in 12 weeks.

"Like a lot of those things, timelines are just guidelines," Lynch said. "Every person is different. There probably is some amount of time in talking to the docs that you want to make sure you get to that point before he's out there but our hope is he's ready to go in training camp."

Purdy posted a 7-1 record as a starter last season, including the playoffs. He finished those eight starts with 14 touchdown passes and two TDs on the ground against three interceptions.

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