NFC West Rumors: 49ers QBs, Bullen, Benton, Hopkins

If the 49ers are familiar with one thing, it’s injured quarterbacks. When season starter Trey Lance went down with a season-ending ankle injury only two games into the season, San Francisco reverted back to Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo would start the next 10 games before suffering a foot injury that would require season-ending surgery. This led the team to start rookie Brock Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Purdy responded to being forced into the spotlight with five straight wins in his starts to end the season. He would then help the 49ers win their first two playoff games before ultimately falling to the Eagles in the NFC Championship after suffering an elbow injury that is expected to take six months to recover.

With the emergence of Purdy this season, San Francisco seems renewed in their desires to move Garoppolo, something they attempted to no avail last offseason. Even with Garoppolo out of the picture, what happens when both Lance and Purdy return to full health? That question was posed to Matt Barrows of The Athletic this week in a Q&A with 49ers fans.

Barrows seems to believe that there will be no controversy when both players are healthy. Purdy presumably won’t be healthy until maybe the start of training camp. Until then, Lance will perform as the team’s lead quarterback in the spring. Once Purdy is back in the picture, though, Barrows asserts that he will be the 49ers’ first-team quarterback. Purdy showed an ability to operate within the 49ers offense and play winning football. Lance, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to prove that he can stay on the football field, unfortunately. Dating back to his final collegiate season at North Dakota State, in the past three years, out of a possible 44 games, Lance has appeared in nine.

Throughout the spring, Lance will be under center earning some much needed snaps with the 49ers offense. Once Purdy is healthy, Barrows is under the impression that he will man the starting quarterback position over Lance.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC West, starting with a couple of coaching changes:

  • After 11 years coaching in the NFL and four years in Arizona, former Cardinals outside linebackers coach Charlie Bullen will be leaving the league to become the outside linebackers coach/pass rush coordinator at the University of Illinois, according to the school’s official Twitter account. Bullen has experience in the Big Ten as a University of Iowa alumnus and will be returning to the state in which he grew up.
  • The Rams are looking to replace offensive line coach Kevin Carberry, whom they dismissed alongside several other coaching assistants following the 2022 season. One candidate they will be considering is former Jets offensive line coach John Benton, as reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Benton has seen a rough 12 months, being arrested and charged with DUI in March 2022 and being dismissed by head coach Robert Saleh after his second year with the team. Benton still provides plenty of experience having served in the position for five franchises, including the Rams back when they resided in St. Louis. If he were hired to coach in Los Angeles, he would be reunited with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who joined Sean McVay‘s staff a little over a week ago.
  • Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been rumored to be available in the trade market this offseason. For what it’s worth, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported this weekend that Hopkins was in the team facility on Friday and met with the team’s new general manager Monti Ossenfort.
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