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Who Will Take the 49ers’ First Snap This Season? – Odds Favor Lance Over Darnold & Purdy

Daniel Coyle

by Daniel Coyle in NFL Football

Mar 31, 2023 · 8:31 AM PDT

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws during the first quarter
Jan 22, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws during the first quarter of a NFC divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
  • The San Francisco 49ers signed Sam Darnold this week, adding depth to their injury-ravaged QB corps
  • Brock Purdy remains the expected starter, but uncertainty about his health will spark competition for the job this summer
  • Trey Lance has emerged as the favorite to take the first snap for the Niners in 2023

After a chaotic 2022 NFL season in which the team lost quarterbacks Trey Lance and brock Purdy to season-ending injuries, expectations have been that the San Francisco 49ers would use the offseason to end the uncertainty as to who would be their starting pivot for the upcoming 2023 campaign. But while the team already enjoys a wealth of talent under center in the form of Lace and Purdy, they have done little to end offseason speculation with this week’s signing of free agent Sam Darnold.

Plenty of time remains for the Niners to sort out their game plan under center before the new season arrives. However, here’s a look at the situation for the 49ers today, and the best bet as to who will take the first snap for this team come Week 1.

Odds to take 49ers First Snap of 2023 NFL Season

Player Odds
Trey Lance -135
Sam Darnold +225
Brock Purdy +275

In the wake of the Sam Darnold signing, Trey Lance continues to lead the way as the favorite to be the Niners’ starter in Week 1, sporting short -135 odds of taking the team’s first snap. Darnold trails as a +225 second favorite, while Brock Purdy sits as a +275 longshot in the49ers next snap odds.

Odds taken at DraftKings on March 31, 2023.


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Darnold Provides Much Needed Depth and Experience

Sam Darnold endured another tough season during his second campaign with the Carolina Panthers in 2022. Expected to be the team’s starter, Darnold saw his season debut delayed due to an ankle injury suffered in the preseason. And while his numbers trended in the right direction, averaging 8.2 yards per pass attempt, and greatly diminishing interceptions thrown while boosting his passer rating to 92.6, Darnold managed to see action in just six games.

With the Panthers pulling the trigger on a blockbuster deal to acquire the first overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, which they will undoubtedly use to select a passer, along with the offseason addition of veteran Andy Dalton, it was clearly time for Darnold to move on. Now entering the mix in San Francisco that already features a pair of young guns, it looks pretty clear that the Niners did not sign Darnold to be their new start, but rather to bring veteran depth to the QB position, and as an insurance policy should Lance and Purdy’s injury woes linger.

Purdy’s Job to Lose

As recently as this week, 49ers head coach Mike Shanahan stated that he expects the starting quarterback job in San Francisco will be Brock Purdy’s, as soon as he is ready to play. However, that is a big if.

A revelation under center after stepping in after the loss of lance to injury, Purdy quickly emerged as a legitimate candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors while powering the team to victory in his first six career starts. In fact, Purdy’s sensational debut has played a big role in the Niners’ rise to a short +800 in the Super Bowl 58 odds.

However, when the 23-year-old will be ready to return to action is far from certain. Purdy underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on March 10, and no timetable for his return is expected for at least three months. And while the team is full of optimistic talk, it is possible Purdy’s return could be delayed until well into the new season.

Lance Approaching Return from Injury

There appears to be a little more certainty as to Trey Lance’s health status. Lance suffered a broken leg and ankle in Week 2 that ended what was expected to be a breakthrough season. However, he is reportedly mending well, and is expected to be on the field when offseason practices begin in late May.

Indeed, the Week 1 job is Lance’s to lose should Purdy’s recovery takes longer than expected. Of course, question marks linger over Lance. The third overall pick two years ago, Lance’s recent injury has set his development back, and Shanahan has made it clear that in the absence of Purdy, Lance and Darnold must compete for the open job.

However, given this team’s past commitment to Lance, and Darnold’s recent checkered track record, both on the field and in the clinic, it will likely take an unforeseen circumstance, like more injury woes, to elevate Darnold into the start’s role for Week 1.

The Pick: Trey Lance (-135)

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