The San Francisco 49ers avoided a worst-case scenario with quarterback Brock Purdy, who will have surgery to repair his torn ACL rather than Tommy John surgery.
Rather than being sidelined up to a year, Purdy is expected to miss six months and be ready for training camp.
That still means the last pick in the 2022 draft who won his first seven starts as a rookie will miss the team's offseason program. And at least one sportsbook believes that gives Trey Lance the inside track to be the 49ers starter to open next season.
Lance is being offered as the -500 favorite by PointsBet to start Week 1 next season ahead of Purdy (300). The only other player being offered odds on is recently retired Tom Brady at 5000.
Lance, the third overall pick in the 2021 draft, has thrown a total of 102 passes across his first two NFL seasons. That's 68 fewer than Purdy, who was thrust into the starting job midway through his rookie year after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a foot injury in Week 13.
Garoppolo was filling in for Lance, who suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 2.
Now it's Lance who finds himself as the focal point of the 49ers' offseason, with coach Kyle Shanahan saying last week that he doesn't see a scenario in which the team brings Garoppolo back. The sportsbook isn't even offering odds on Garoppolo opening next season under center for San Francisco.
Lance, who declared for the NFL draft after North Dakota State moved its COVID-delayed 2020 season to the following spring, has played eight football games in the past three years. That includes going 2-2 as a starter for the 49ers while completing just 54.9 percent of his career NFL passes with five touchdowns and three interceptions.
It's an incredibly small sample size for a team coming off a run to the NFC Championship on the shoulders of their third-string quarterback from training camp.
That's why many believe the job should be Purdy's -- if "Mr. Irrelevant" from last year's draft is healthy. That includes the best quarterback in franchise history.
"If Purdy's healthy I think it's his job," Montana said Wednesday, per ProFootballTalk.com.
Lance will receive the bulk of the reps with the first team during the offseason program, but Montana believes his overall body of work remains too small to be trusted at the helm of a Super Bowl-caliber offense.
"I don't think he's ready yet," Montana said. "I don't think he's ready to take that caliber team. Talented kid, and he might be, part way through the year if he gets more starts.
"I don't know, but do you want to turn over a team that you want to get off to a great start with a guy you still have a question about?"
--Field Level Media