Getty The 49ers could still replace Brock Purdy in 2024.
Brock Purdy’s return doesn’t mean the San Francisco 49ers will stick with the second-year quarterback in 2024.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell raised the possibility that the 49ers could trade for New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones next year. Barnwell called the 49ers “an obvious landing spot given Kyle Shanahan’s reported interest before the Niners drafted Trey Lance in 2021.”
San Francisco moved up to Lance with the third pick, while Jones fell to the Patriots at No. 15. Both careers did not go as planned, but under completely different circumstances.
Lance didn’t live up to the pre-draft hype and barely started in San Francisco before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys. Jones had a big break as a rookie in New England, but has since regressed with a now struggling Patriots franchise.
With Jones on the bench for the second time this year, Barnwell noted that the Patriots “theoretically have trade value” for Jones in 2024. That is, if the Patriots go in a different direction, which seems more likely given the team’s 2-8 start and head coach Bill Belichick’s lack of commitment to Jones as the current starter.
The remainder of the 2023 season will determine how Brock Purdy and Mac Jones will fare in 2024
How the acquisition of Jones would affect Purdy remains a question. Purdy had a good start to his career, but a recent three-game losing streak lowered expectations. The remainder of Purdy’s 2023 season could determine whether the 49ers would pursue Jones and how the former Alabama star would fit.
Conversely, the remainder of Jones’ season will impact his trade value in 2024. His numbers currently leave a lot to be desired with 2,031 passing yards for 10 touchdowns versus 10 interceptions.
For now, Purdy is looking back on track and has firmly established himself as a starter after his most recent performance in a 34-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 10. Purdy completed 73.1% of his passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns, and he earned a season-high 148.9 on Sunday, November 12th.
A controversy is already brewing between Mac Jones and Brock Purdy
Should Jones still come to the 49ers via a trade, it could reignite a quarterback controversy between him and Jones that simmered in October. ESPN NFL analyst and former quarterback Dan Orlovsky claimed on “Get Up” on October 9, “If Mac Jones was in San Francisco, he would play like Brock Purdy.”
Orlovsky received hostility from 49ers tight end George Kittle over the comment. Kittle called it “disrespectful to Brock Purdy” during the “Murph and Mac” show on KNBR on Oct. 10.
Two days later, Orlovksy explained his position during the KNBR show. Orlovsky emphasized that Purdy was “a really good player,” meaning “support for Mac Jones” rather than doubts about Purdy. Additionally, Orlovsky expressed doubt that Jones would be able to match Purdy’s performance.
“Do I think Mac Jones has nine touchdowns and no interceptions and is obviously at the top or number one in almost every category? I don’t know if I say that,” Orlovsky said. “I think it’s silly and careless to say this, but I do think Mac would play really well.”
“I think there are probably, I don’t know, eight quarterbacks that would be playing at a pretty good level in San Francisco right now. “I don’t know if they would do the exact same thing as Brock, so it was never intended as an attack on Brock Purdy,” Orlovsky added. “I’ve always been a big fan of his [been]. I’m the person who said he changed Kyle Shanahan.”
“So it was more about supporting Mac Jones and supporting him in terms of the type of player I think he can be, rather than in any way downplaying what Brock did,” Orlovsky concluded.
When Jones arrives in 2024, he and Purdy could have some real competition.
Matthew Davis covers the NFL for Heavy.com, focusing on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. He has also covered prep sports in Minnesota as a writer for the StarTribune since 2016. More about Matthew Davis