NFL Draft week is finally here, and though the San Francisco 49ers don’t have a pick until No. 99, they do have quarterbacks, and that always puts them in the conversation.
49ers’ general manager John Lynch met with the Bay Area media Monday to discuss Trey Lance trade rumors, Brock Purdy’s health and Brandon Aiyuk ahead of the NFL Draft.
For now, the 49ers are planning to have third-year quarterback Trey Lance on the 2023 roster.
“I expect Trey to be here and we’re excited about Trey’s ability to compete and what he can do for our franchise just as we were when we drafted Trey,” said Lynch. “And I think the only thing that’s changed this offseason is that Trey’s gone and got himself healthy…He’s done some different things in terms of his training this offseason. He’s very encouraged by that. And we’ll see when we get an opportunity to get out there on the field with him, but we have every reason to be encouraged as well.”
Lynch confirmed that the 49ers have received calls about Lance, but it doesn’t sound like there’s much there, at least not yet.
“I think there’s a lot of smoke really,” Lynch said. “It hasn’t been extremely active, and it’s not like we’ve put it out there that, ‘Hey, we’re taking offers for Trey, call 1-800 to’…People’s job in this is to ask questions. Has that happened on a couple occasions? Sure. It hasn’t been that substantive and…we’re focused as is Trey on his ability to compete and play an integral role on this team. Last year we needed five and so we value every single one of those guys. And we’re excited about our group. We really are.”
That group includes Lance, presumptive-starter Brock Prudy (if he’s healthy) and veteran Sam Darnold.
Lance, who is coming off a season-ending ankle injury suffered in Week 2 of the 2022 season, had to have a second surgery in December but has worked to get healthy.
“We’re excited about the position he’s put himself in with the work he’s done this offseason to number one, get healthy, number two, improve upon some things that he really wanted to improve upon,” Lynch said. “And we don’t get to watch all of his workouts. I’ve got a good view. He’s definitely excited and I think he has reason to be, so yes, there has been good communication and we’re excited about Trey’s ability to go compete for a job.”
Whether Lance is competing for QB1 or QB2 – or even QB3 – remains to be seen. It all hinges on the health of Brock Purdy’s elbow, but so far, things are looking promising, though everyone will have a better idea 12 weeks after surgery, and Purdy is halfway there.
“He’s attacking each day,” Lynch said. “Dr. [Keith] Meister had said that an inflection point will be 12 weeks because that’s when he’s supposed to start throwing, but right now he’s just really focused on maxing each day. I think with rehab, having gone through it myself, there’s a physical component to it. There’s also a psychological and emotional and mental component and part of that is just waking up and really being where you’re at…Brock has done a really good job of that.”
Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been the subject of trade speculation, but it’s just that, speculation.
“We love Brandon Aiyuk and I’m excited about Brandon being a part of this team, so I’ll just leave it at that,” Lynch said.
Part of the speculation stems from looking ahead to 2024 and the difficulty in keeping both Aiyuk and wide receiver Deebo Samuel. As 49ers fans – and all NFL fans know – you can’t pay everybody.
“It’s a fair question because I understand the line of thinking,” Lynch said. “…[W]e’re trying to do something special this year and Brandon is going to be a big part of that, and beyond as well. And so yes, you always have to think out a few years, but we’re really excited about Brandon. I feel like he made another big step last year, and I think the best is yet to come and so we want him being a part of it…[R]ight now and into the future, we’re really excited about Brandon Aiyuk and…[t]he work he’s done to develop as a pro and become one of our core players here.”
The 49ers have until next week to decide on picking up his fifth-year option, though the expectation is they will do so.