Brock Purdy’s surgery to repair the torn UCL in his throwing elbow has been delayed. As a result, the only “healthy” quarterback on the 49ers roster is Trey Lance. And that’s stretching it considering Lance has yet to be cleared to return to full activity.
Expect San Francisco to add a quarterback or two when free agency kicks off next month. The legal tampering period begins March 13 with players able to officially sign starting March 15.
During the 49ers season ending press conference, head coach Kyle Shanahan seemed to shoot down the idea of bringing in a starting-level veteran.
“I know we have two starters on our team right now that I believe we can win with, so when you have that situation, you’re not that eager to go looking around,” said Shanahan.
How the 49ers manage their way through this period will also tell us a lot about their feelings towards Trey Lance.
Here are five free agent quarterbacks the 49ers should target:
1.) Baker Mayfield
The first player chosen in the 2018 draft; Mayfield has failed to live up to his draft position.
With coaching change for the Browns prior to 2020 came Mayfield’s best season. The Oklahoma product led Cleveland to an 11-5 record and a playoff win in Pittsburgh before a close defeat the next week to Kansas City.
From that point Mayfield’s career has been in a tailspin. He was traded to Carolina during the offseason prior to the start of last year, and eventually released by the Panthers.
Mayfield was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams and led them to two wins over the final five weeks.
The cost to sign Mayfield, likely to be around $5 million for next season, and past issues with standout pass rusher Nick Bosa make this unlikely. However, Mayfield’s athleticism would be fun to see in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
2.) Jacoby Brissette
Throughout a seven-year career with stops in New England, Indianapolis, Miami and last year with Cleveland, Brissette has made 48 starts.
Although he has won just 18 of his starts Brissette has a trait which should be very attractive to the 49ers, he doesn’t turn the ball over. He has thrown an interception on just 1.5 percent throughout his career.
With an expected contract value around $4-5 million, Brissette would be a solid option and be able to efficiently run the 49ers offense if called upon.
3.) Andy Dalton
San Francisco reportedly showed interest in signing Dalton during free agency in 2021. According to various reports they liked the idea of pairing Dalton as the veteran with Trey Lance.
With Jimmy Garoppolo still on the 49ers roster, Dalton eventually chose to sign with Chicago where he was given the opportunity to start. That lasted just two weeks and he signed with New Orleans for 2022.
Although he is no longer the player he was while leading Cincinnati to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, at $3 million or less Dalton is the perfect blend of mentor and player for San Francisco.
4.) John Wolford
Wolford isn’t an exciting name, but he has shown the ability to play well when given the opportunity with talent around him.
When Jared Goff broke his thumb late in 2020, Wolford stepped in and helped the Rams secure a playoff berth with an 18-7 win over Arizona in the regular season finale.
Wolford has not been able to duplicate that success since as he struggled with a depleted Rams roster last season. However, Wolford is familiar with Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme and provide a solid third option should Purdy return healthy.
5.) Jarrett Stidham
Stidham was originally selected by New England in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. After three seasons with the Patriots, he followed Josh McDaniels to Las Vegas for 2022.
Stidham made his first NFL start in week 17 against San Francisco. The former Auburn Tiger nearly led the Raiders to an upset win. Stidham showed good athleticism and the ability to hit throws all over the field.
He followed up his performance against the 49ers with another solid outing the following week against Kansas City in the season finale.
The Raiders released Derek Carr earlier this month. That leaves Stidham as the only quarterback on the Raiders roster with an NFL start. However, Vegas is a prime landing spot for Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Garoppolo. If the Raiders land either of the two it’s unlikely they will push hard to retain Stidham.