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49ers QB Brock Purdy is even more a bargain than he seems

Yardbarker logo Yardbarker 3/29/2023 Mike Santa Barbara, Yardbarker
Brock Purdy © Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports Brock Purdy

The San Francisco 49ers found themselves quite a bargain in quarterback Brock Purdy, it turns out. Following a remarkable rookie season for Purdy, last year's "Mr. Irrelevant" is still paying dividends for the 49ers. 

As David Lombardi of The Athletic notes, Purdy comes exceptionally cheap for a starting quarterback in the NFL. So cheap that the former Iowa State signal-caller doesn't count against the Niners' salary cap. Yet.

From the start of the NFL league year in March until the first week of the regular season, by league rule, only the top 51 most valuable contracts count against a team's salary cap. Purdy's cap hit is only $889,253 for 2023, 52nd on the 49ers. 

Things will change once 53 contracts count against San Francisco's cap, but until then, his low number gives the team offseason wiggle room. And, when the regular season begins, Purdy will remain a major steal compared to other younger quarterbacks who could possibly be in line for an upcoming starting gig, such as Washington Commanders Sam Howell ($960,000), Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Kyle Trask ($1.5 million), Baker Mayfield ($1.7 million) and Indianapolis Colts' Gardner Minshew ($3.5 million). 

After suffering a torn UCL in his throwing arm during the team's NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Purdy won't be ready to start the 2023 campaign. On Tuesday at the NFL meetings in Arizona, head coach Kyle Shannahan hinted that the young quarterback could be back under center for the Niners as soon as Week 4. 

In the meantime, to fill the void left behind by the "leader" of San Francisco's clubhouse, the Niners figure to turn to some combination of Trey Lance and free agent acquisition Sam Darnold. 

Since San Francisco traded up to select Lance No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, the 22-year-old has played sparingly for the 49ers, starting only four games over two seasons. In 2022, Lance had his sophomore campaign cut short by a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. 

Darnold is another former No. 3 overall pick, selected by the New York Jets in the 2018 NFL Draft. After failing to find success in New York, Darnold has spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, putting together an 8-9 record as a starter while posting a 77.3 passer rating in 18 games. 

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