Where do the 49ers go from here?

This may not be a terribly popular opinion among 49ers fans but I feel the 49ers have to go after a veteran QB such as Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers this offseason. Absolutely Brock Purdy had a brilliant rookie year and was one of the best sports stories given that he was taken last in the 2022 draft. It makes me sad that the 49ers did not move on to the Super Bowl since his story would have been significantly magnified this week and next.

Still, the 49ers have to think about their Super Bowl window and how they can best extend it. Here are the reasons why pursuing Brady or Rodgers makes sense.

  1. Purdy will be out at least 6 months meaning he won't be able to participate in OTAs, the start of training camp, and possibly some preseason games. If Purdy has to have Tommy John surgery (instead of repairing his elbow, he goes for complete reconstruction of it), then Purdy is not back until halfway through the 2023 season. As much as I love the kid and want to see him run this often next year, we have to be realistic about this recovery timeline.

  2. The 49ers invested heavily in Trey Lance in the 2021 draft in terms of future draft picks so logic would dictate we give him a chance as we did at the start of the 2022 season. However, by the time Lance see the field in September 2023, it will have been nearly 4 years since he has played a full season. He sat out the 2020 NCAA season due to COVID and preparing for the NFL draft, held the clipboard for Jimmy G in 2021, and of course got hurt in Week 2 of the 2022 season. No doubt he will be rusty and I question his football IQ since he hasn't had much real playing experience unlike Purdy who was a 4 year starter for Iowa State and demonstrated a high football IQ throughout this season. It is not uncommon for teams to let their future QB play the role of understudy for 1- 3 years (i.e. Montana 79-80, Young 87-90, Warner 98, Brady 00, Rodgers 05 - 07, Mahomes 17). Yes, it is unusual to ask Lance to be an understudy in Year 3 but in all fairness, 2022 didn't count since he could not get any meaningful reps in practice due to a season-ending injury in Week 2.

  3. As grateful as I am for what Jimmy G has done for the 49ers in 2019, 2021, and this year (and even the last few games of 2017), I highly doubt he signs another one-year deal with SF and has the uncertainy of being either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd string. Spotrac.com, which does a great job of tracking sports contracts, projects Jimmy G to make about $35 million per year for 4 years or $140 million total. This leads me to my next point ...

  4. The 49ers will have to pay Bosa his money to avoid him testing the free agent waters in 2024. He enters the last year of his rookie contract and has earned a solid pay day. He is clearly a top 5 NFL defender right now and will be for the next 8-10 years as long as he stays healthy. No way can the 49ers pay a QB a multi-year deal worth $100 million or more and still have enough cap space to retain Bosa and others (see my next point).

  5. The 49ers already have other big contracts to satisfy for the foreseeable futute such as McCaffrey, Samuel, Kittle, Williams, Warner, C. Ward, and Armstead). That is 7 players making well over $10 million next year and beyond. Throw in Bosa and again there is no way the 49ers can commit to a QB looking for a long term deal such as Derek Carr (I wouldn't want him anyway!), Daniel Jones (not sure if I want him either!), and Jimmy G (sorry, but he is signing elsewhere). Keep in mind that the NFL salary cap is about $220 million in 2023 so it looks like half of that number will be allocated to just 8 players and there are still 45 other players the 49ers have to satisfy financially.

  6. Brady and Rodgers will most likely look for a 1-2 year deal with a Super Bowl contender. Yes, they are old: Brady is 46 and Rodgers is 39. However, I believe they have 1 or 2 more years left of high quality football. While both regressed last year, they still put up solid numbers. Just not their usualy gaudy stats which had made them future Hall of Famers. Keep in mind that Rodgers lost Adams to the Raiders and Brady had one of the worst offensive lines football. Give either of those QBs the talent in SF and watch them put up great numbers again. That happened with Brett Favre in 2009 with Minnesota when he was 40. He showed signs of slowing down from 2005-2008 and then had a magical season once he was surrounded by better talent. One other thing to consider: both Brady and Rodgers are from Northern California and followed the 49ers in their youth. I am guessing they wouldn't mind ending their careers winning a Super Bowl for their hometown team.

  7. Signing either Brady or Rodgers allows the 49ers to still be one of the top teams in the NFL in 2023. The rest of the contenders (Chiefs, Eagles, Bills, and Bengals to name a few) don't have QB issues. If we want to win now, we need the QB position to be a non-issue in 2023. Otherwise we will let our talent rot away during a critical year in our Super Bowl window.

  8. Lance and Purdy can learn a lot from Brady or Rodgers. They can use a great mentor in either QB which would make them better at their craft in 2024 and beyond. That will also highly motivate Lance to play well in 2024, the last year of his rookie deal, in order to get a big pay day in 2025. The 49ers could also franchise tag him in 2025 to extend their Super Bowl window by another year. Purdy is under contract until 2025 so either way, let Lance or Purdy learn from the best in 2023 and then go with either one as the starter for 2024 and 2025.

The 49ers were in a win-now mode in 2022 and pretty much went all-in with the McCaffrey trade. Fortunutely the key players (except Bosa) are signed for the foreseeable future meaning that the core will be intact for at least the next three seasons. However, there is not much wiggle room with the salary cap and the unfortunate injuries to our young QBs mean we need a veteran QB to step in now to steer the ship to the promised land. Vegas (next Super Bowl host) baby for next year! Let it ride with Brady or Rodgers!