Since San Francisco used the final pick of the 2022 draft on Purdy, some among the fan base have been vocal about the former Iowa State product supplanting Lance as the 49ers starting quarterback.
Is there any validity to this belief?
Shanahan was in his third season working underneath his father Mike as the offensive coordinator in Washington when the team used three first-round picks and a second-round pick to trade up for the second pick in the 2012 draft. Washington used the selection on Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
To the surprise of many, Washington decided to draft another quarterback with its third pick in the 2012 draft, Kirk Cousins from Michigan State.
The transition to Griffin forced Shanahan and the rest of Washington’s offensive coaching staff to revamp their approach to the game.
Griffin was different from any quarterbacks they’d coached in the NFL. Washington took a crash course in learning how to implement the zone read into its running game to take advantage of the quarterback’s running ability.
At the time, there were few teams across the NFL running this style of offense, San Francisco was doing it with Colin Kaepernick, and Washington could take advantage of unprepared defenses.
Griffin took the NFL by storm, earning NFL Rookie of the Year honors while leading Washington to a 9-6 record and playoff berth. The future was bright for Griffin in Washington, and then came the playoffs.
Facing Seattle in the NFC Wild Card round, Griffin would slip while dropping back to pass and tear the ACL and LCL in his right knee.
Griffin had initially injured the knee against Baltimore in week 14 when he was hit by Haloti Ngata while scrambling.
After the injury, Griffin could never regain the form he’d shown his rookie season, and Kyle Shanahan left Washington for Cleveland.
Cousins started four games in Washington over his first two seasons, winning only once.
Flash forward to 2021. Now the head coach in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan, used three first-round picks and a third-round pick to trade up for the third pick in the draft, and the 49ers used the selection to grab North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.
Shanahan chose a different plan with Lance than he did with Griffin. Lance made only two starts as a rookie, losing a close game against Arizona in week five and leading San Francisco to a critical win in week 17 to keep the 49ers playoff hopes alive.
All signs now point to Lance, who turned 22 on Monday, becoming the 49ers starting quarterback this season.
Does Purdy have a chance to supplant the 2021 first-round pick?
There’s no way this happens.
Shanahan is known to have liked Cousins in the 2012 draft, and he was a much better quarterback coming out of college than Purdy.
Kyle Shanahan has been open about passing up Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft because the plan was to go after Cousins in free agency.
At the time, Cousins was coming off a season that saw him throw for over 4900 yards and earn Pro Bowl honors.
Ultimately, Shanahan could not turn down an option to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. Acquiring Garoppolo was a sure thing, whereas being able to acquire Cousins was an unknown. Cousins eventually chose to sign with the Minnesota Vikings.
While Cousins always showed the ability to make all the throws, that’s not the case with Purdy.
Purdy is much closer to Nick Mullens than he ever will be to Kirk Cousins.
If Kyle Shanahan and new quarterback coach Brian Griese can develop Purdy into a backup quarterback, it should be considered a win for the organization.
This team belongs to Trey Lance.