Fantasy Football Player Notes
2023 Draft Rankings
Will Trey Lance be a starter when the 49ers kick off the 2023 season? It seems likely that he'll compete with Brock Purdy for the starter's job, and it's possible 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan will put his thumb on the scale for Purdy after the seventh-round pick from Iowa State helped guide the Niners into the playoffs. Lance is a dangerous runner with ample arm talent, and this will be his age-23 season, so there's plenty of time for him to make good on the potential that inspired the 49ers to give away multiple first-round draft picks in order to trade up and draft Lance. But the North Dakota State product has thrown just 420 passes since high school and still has a great deal to prove. Lance could be one of the best QB values of 2023 or a complete waste of a draft pick.
The last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, Brock Purdy was hardly "Mr. Irrelevant" as a rookie. After Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo sustained season-ending injuries, the 49ers turned to Purdy as their starter, and he obliged with smart, mistake-free football, guiding the 49ers all the way to the NFL Championship Game before a torn UCL ended his season and torpedoed the 49ers' title hopes. Assuming Purdy's recovery goes smoothly, he'll likely compete with Trey Lance for a starting role in 2023. The 49ers traded up to draft Lance No. 3 overall in 2021, but head coach Kyle Shanahan could decide that Purdy is simply a better distributor and a better candidate to fully leverage San Francisco's abundant skill-position talent.
The third overall pick of the 2018 draft, Sam Darnold probably won't ever live up to the expectations he carried coming out of USC, and he might not be a Week 1 starter when the new season begins. But Darnold has at least given the Panthers some spurts of functionality over the last two years, and at worst he'll begin the 2023 season as a high-quality backup. Darnold's career passing numbers aren't particularly impressive, but he's been surprisingly effective as a runner, with 328 rushing yards and seven TD runs in 18 games over the last two years.