As the San Francisco 49ers begin their offseason program, the team's quarterback battle will arguably be the most eye-catching topic. While 49ers fans knew Brock Purdy would be out to start the program, San Francisco made a peculiar decision when it came to Trey Lance and Sam Darnold.
Both Lance and Darnold are expected to take first-team reps this offseason, via Dave Lombardi of The Athletic. When Purdy returns he'll rejoin the fray, but he is facing a long layoff after elbow surgery.
When Purdy returns, he is expected to battle with Lance for the starting role. Darnold wasn't even considered to be in contention. But rather than give Lance the lion's share of reps, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers have decided to give Darnold an opportunity.
Lance is coming off of season-ending ankle surgery. Perhaps San Francisco wants to work him back slowly. With Purdy as the only other QB on the roster, it makes sense to give Darnold some reps. However, Lance not being viewed as the immediate starter with Purdy going down will be telling once the QBs begin their battle.
The 49ers were high on Trey Lance when they drafted him third overall in 2021. However, the emergence of Purdy has now put San Francisco in a difficult position. Lance entered the year as the 49ers' starter, but Brock Purdy might've stolen the job from him.
Lance will have an opportunity to win the job back. But before he competes with Purdy, he'll have to share time with Sam Darnold. Lance will look to prove why he deserves the starting role and why he deserves all the first-term reps.
Until at least Purdy comes back.