49ers leaning on young QB to make third straight NFC championship
Most franchises would be reeling two years after making one of the worst trades in the history of the NFL. The 49ers are not only still gunning for a Super Bowl, but doing it with one of the best rosters in football.
Why it matters: San Francisco traded a king's ransom for QB Trey Lance in a completely loaded 2021 NFL Draft only for him to throw a grand total of 102 passes in two years. He was just unceremoniously shipped off to Dallas, leaving former 7th round pick Brock Purdy as the starter and talented, but underwhelming, veteran Sam Darnold as his backup.
- If either of those QBs is even halfway decent, the 49ers are good enough everywhere else that they should rip through the NFC.
What we're watching: How San Francisco's "positionless" offense looks with a full off-season of All-Pro Christian McCaffrey after trading for the star running back at the deadline last year. He's so good at catching the ball that it allows coach Kyle Shanahan to use the rest of his talented pass catchers — Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk — all over the field.
Best-case scenario: If this team stays healthy on defense and the QBs are serviceable, it should sleepwalk into the NFC West crown and a rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game.
Worst-case scenario: Purdy and others get hurt, Darnold reminds everyone why he's been on three teams in four years, the unproven secondary is exposed and San Francisco struggles to hold off the Seahawks for the division.
What's next: The 49ers open the 2023 season on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10.
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