The San Francisco 49ers came one game, and perhaps one injury (yeah, yeah. We get it Eagles fans), away from reaching the Super Bowl.
But the road to get there hardly made any sense.
The Niners went into the season with their hopes pinned on the back of the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance. Coach Kyle Shanahan named Lance the starter over the surprisingly returning Jimmy Garoppolo.
Lance lasted just two unspectacular games before breaking his ankle against the Chicago Bears. In steps Garoppolo. The veteran, who was almost traded multiple times over the summer, went 7-3 in 10 starts and moved San Francisco into playoff contention. But a foot injury against the Miami Dolphins knocked him out what was thought to be the rest of the season.
Enter Brock Purdy.
The Niners selected Purdy with the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. And they’re probably glad they did. Purdy exceeded all expectations. The rookie went 5-0 in the rest of the regular season, completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions/
San Francisco entered the playoffs with the second seed and as the hottest team in the league. Purdy led the Niners past the Seahawks in the Wild Card round. Then past the Cowboys in the Divisional Round. But yet another injury knocked him out of the NFC title game against the Eagles, effectively ending San Francisco’s season.
Now the Niners are left to figure out what to do in 2023. And former Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana knows who he would choose.
Joe Montana Believes Jimmy Garoppolo Should Start The 2023 Season At QB For The Niners
Just last week, Shanahan announced that Garoppolo would not return to San Francisco in 2023. But that didn’t stop Montana from claiming that he should begin the 2023 season as the team’s starter in a recent interview.
"You gotta go with the guy that's been winning the games"
—@JoeMontana gives @MikeSilver his surprising pick for the @49ers starting QB next season pic.twitter.com/HIiqvpgBCs
— The Volume (@TheVolumeSports) February 5, 2023
“I start Jimmy,” Montana said. “He has won a lot of games. I can’t say the same for Trey. You don’t know that from him. I don’t think it’s hard — I think you just start Jimmy.”
Montana also seemed to favor Garoppolo over Purdy.
“He still won a lot of games before he got hurt, right?” Montana said of Garoppolo. “And so he put [Purdy] in that position to be able to go on that run, to begin with. So, you handed a guy a team, sort of like somebody else I know got handed a good team. You’ve got to go with the guy who’s been winning the games and gets the offense and go from there.”
But current 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk doesn’t seem to agree. Aiyuk heaped praise on Purdy in a recent interview on the SFNiners YouTube page.
“(Purdy) gave me just the confidence that he gave me in, like, probably maybe after Miami, I’m like, ‘OK,’ after Tampa Bay, ‘I have no doubt, OK,’ ” he said of young signal caller. “We’re just fine. We’re back to business. This dude, that’s a different dude.”
Whether Purdy is back for the start of the regular season appears to be up in the air. The Iowa State product is expected to miss at least six months while recovering from a torn elbow ligament against Philadelphia.