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Jennifer Lee Chan | San Francisco 49ers Reporter; NBC Sports Bay Area

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The Truth Network Radio
May 25, 2023 5:53 am

Jennifer Lee Chan | San Francisco 49ers Reporter; NBC Sports Bay Area

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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May 25, 2023 5:53 am

NBC Sports Bay Area 49ers reporter Jennifer Lee Chan joins the show to talk OTA's, Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, and the early 49ers QB questions.

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Find out more at slash C-Y. That's S-E-E-W-H-Y. We're pleased to welcome Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports in the Bay Area. Longtime Niners insider. Well, Jennifer, what does it feel like to be back at practice this week? You know, it felt like business as usual, but of course there's so much talk about the quarterback situation.

What's going to happen? And we actually got to speak to all three quarterbacks other than Brandon Allen. So we spoke to Brock Purdy and Trey Lance and Sam Darnold all in one day. So we did get to see them throw. Brock Purdy is obviously not throwing, but the biggest news of the day was that he should be ready for week one.

So that was kind of a surprise, but I guess you just, you just never know. All right, so let's break it down. Let's start with Coach Shanahan. I know he doesn't love to talk about his quarterbacks, but every single year this is going on with the San Francisco 49ers. So what did he have to say about how they'll move forward during practice and kind of working toward the season?

It never ceases to amazing, right? It's been the one of the most fascinating quarterback storylines for the past several years. What are the 49ers going to do? And it appears that Brock Purdy will be healthy for week one. Now, if, you know, it just remains to be seen whether he is able to get out and practice for a couple of weeks before that, or at least a handful of practice before that. He said previously that he doesn't want to throw a guy out there unless he has at least had some 11 on 11 practices. So we'll see if he stays true to that or not, but otherwise it's mostly Trey Lance and Sam Donald getting the bulk of the reps at practice. Now in practice on Tuesday, Trey Lance had the first grouping of snaps and then Sam Donald had the second grouping of snaps. Now, normally that would be first team and then second team, but he said, Hey, no O line, no D line out there.

You know, a lot of the wide receivers are out. So really the second team is, or the first team is kind of the second team and the second team is kind of the third team. He's like, yeah, really funny to try and figure out which one is really first and second team. So he kind of joked around about that, but as of Tuesday, Trey Lance was the guy who is under center first and then Sam Donald was second.

Trey Lance is now in the position that Jimmy Garoppolo was in for a couple of years, wondering about his status and having to stay ready just in case, knowing that if the Niners execute their plan perfectly, he's likely not to be QB one. How have you seen him handle this? It was really interesting this time when he spoke to us, he was much more relaxed.

And I think that has to do partially with the fact that he's 100% healthy. He talked about the fact that for the longest time, that finger injury that happened in his rookie year really affected everything. It was a trickle down effect. So he couldn't straighten his index finger all the way. He had to learn how to release the ball with his middle finger instead of his index finger. That had a whole trickle down on his windup, his throwing mechanics. It ended up trickling down to, you know, his complete body mechanics, how he twisted his body, how he pushed off his back foot. So it had this incredible effect on his efficiency, just his comfort in throwing. That also led to part of the arm fatigue that was a story in the past. He kind of joked about that and said, hey, can we finally put this to rest, this whole arm fatigue thing? Interesting to see him kind of more himself, more relaxed, less guarded. And he seemed a little bit more at ease.

And I think, you know, part of that is just him being healthy. They moved up to get him in the draft, Jennifer. They moved up to number three to get him in the draft. Brock Purdy obviously was this incredible revelation.

And the way he handled the situation last year was more than what Niners fans could have asked, but really more than what the franchise could have asked. How do they decide if they're going to go with Brock? Eventually they're going to have to make some decision about how to part ways with Trey, right?

I would think so. I mean, the good thing is that both of them are on their rookie contract. So if they keep them both in the way they've gone through quarterbacks the last couple of years, you'd think they'd want at least a safety net behind their starting quarterback.

Both John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have talked about how Brock Purdy is the leader in the clubhouse. So, you know, he's got more game experience, not Trey's fault that he doesn't have that experience. You know, he had that week one game in 2022 in Chicago, and it was just a downforce.

You can't really judge that game. And then the next week, week two, that's when he got injured. Previous to that, he'd been in and out for a couple of snaps, a few starts here and there, but nothing consistent. People asked, you know, in his press conference, would you be, you know, are you looking to be traded? You heard the rumors and he's like, no, he wants to be where he's at. His words were, I'm trying to stay where my feet are.

And so he wants to stay in the present. And I think you look across the league learning from Kyle Shanahan and Brian Greasy are probably a really good situation for him. So I can't imagine him really wanting to leave at this point.

He does want to compete for that starting role though. Jennifer Lee Chan is with us here on After Hours, CBS Sports Radio. Already so many questions about the San Francisco 49ers and their quarterbacks, of course, even though Kyle Shanahan would love to be done with that.

She covers the Niners for NBC Sports. Jennifer, then what did you hear from Brock about his health and about where he is now following that March surgery? He says arm feels good. He feels good. He's throwing a towel instead of a football. So Kyle Shanahan, yeah, that the weight of the football is too much for him at this point, but he is doing that throwing motion. Next week, the second session or second grouping of OTA practices, he will begin starting to throw a football. Of course, he won't be doing it in team drills. He'll probably be doing it off to the side with the PT of the team, but he is on schedule. Next week is the 12-week marker. That's the big one as far as the surgeons say where he starts throwing. And then that's where if he has any setbacks, that could set that week one timeline off balance.

But as of now, everything's on schedule. All things being equal, both guys healthy. What's the biggest difference between Brock and Trey?

You know, I think it's game experience. They both have the ability to process the game and what's happening on the defense as the play unravels. But I think Brock pretty with his, you know, he's got so many more starts, so many more snaps under center in the NFL.

He has been able to prove that he is worthy of the starting position. And I think that's why both Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have said that he's their guy as long as he's healthy. So now how does Sam Darnold fit into the equation? Sam Darnold is kind of the wild card, right? He's an incredibly talented thrower. He hasn't been in the best situations. He is, it seems very excited to be working with Brian Griese, working with Kyle Shanahan. He's also never had a supporting cast like he will with the 49ers. Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Elijah Mitchell.

I mean, you can go down the list and he's never had a team like this and, you know, another also a team that's got a strong defense. But will he be able to get on the field? Who's I mean, maybe he will, maybe he won't. But I think learning from those two guys and being able to take reps in practice are going to be great for him.

But we talked on the podcast and wondered, will he ever see the field? If Trey Lance and Brock Cordy are healthy, it could be doubtful. It's also helpful to have a viable backup or two because the number of teams that go through multiple QBs and the Niners have been an example of that, right? And yet still managed to make the NFC Championship two years in a row. That kind of points back to the fact that they have such a strong supporting cast for whoever comes in at quarterback that they're really set up to succeed. So whoever it is under center, I think the 49ers are another team to watch going into the season. As long as they stay healthy, they're going to be a contender. Jennifer Lee Chan is with us from the Bay Area following a couple of practices now for the Niners with all three quarterbacks who are available to speak.

It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. Outside of quarterbacks, Jennifer, what are the other questions surrounding the team even in May as they think about 2023 season? The big thing that coming up for the front office is getting an extension done for Nick Bosa. So I have no doubt that it's going to be done.

It's just when it will be done. And then with him on the defensive line, Javon Hargrave, defensive tackle, Eric Armstead in the inside, who is going to be on the other side of the defensive line? A guy that they really are looking for improvement from is Drake Jackson. They moved up in the draft. They picked him high in 2022. He kind of petered out mid-season and didn't really perform well. And they're really looking for him to improve.

Javon Kimla is a guy that he's on the last year who has a rookie contract. What can they get out of him? It's interesting that the Niners have a top-ranked defense for the last several years. And yet the criticism that they had internally is that the defensive line didn't get as much pressure on the opposing quarterbacks they have in the past.

So that's what they're really focusing on, which is interesting. Also, Steve Wilks being the new defensive coordinator, I think that's something to watch as well. His background is in DBs and safeties. How well do they improve with his leadership over the defense? And we know the Panthers spoke so highly of him when he stepped in for Matt Ruhl following that change in Carolina last season and obviously played really hard for him. They were still in the running for the NFC South title for a while.

Jennifer, the schedules come out. Niners won the NFC West last year with that 13-4 mark. What was it, 10 wins in a row to wrap up the regular season? What stands out about their 23 schedule? I think the big one is going back to Philadelphia for that NFC championship game rematch late in the season. And that, interestingly, is sandwiched by two Seahawks games.

So you've got two divisions. So it's Seattle, and then it's Philly, and then it's Seattle again. I mean, that three-pack game, that's maybe a tough one for them late in the season. Also, the fact that they play on every single holiday in the season. They play on Thanksgiving, they play on Christmas day, and then they play on New Year's Eve. So it is a holiday packed schedule for all of us that cover the 49ers and the team themselves. What does that say to you, Jennifer? It says to me I'm not going to have as good of a Thanksgiving as I normally do.

Oh goodness. Well, at least we know we'll get the great coverage. If you think about the West division, certainly with the Rams, there have been a ton of changes. Cardinals kind of feel like they're in limbo. What do you think after the first few months of the offseason? I think Seattle had a really good draft. I think they're the team that's going to challenge the 49ers the most.

I think it's going to be a tough battle between those two teams. And with that series, like I said, Seattle, Philly, Seattle, I think that's a tough one. I don't know what it is about the schedulers, but they've done that recently where they played the same divisional game very close together. They've done it with the Rams and the 49ers recently, like the past couple of years where it's the Rams, then another team into the Rams again.

I don't know if they're doing it on purpose or what the, you know, if it just happens randomly, but it seems like it's happening more often than not. When you think about the NFC as a whole, obviously Philadelphia went to the Super Bowl. The Niners were in the championship game, but the North feels wide open because of Aaron Rodgers' departure and the Packers hadn't played well last year. Anyway, the Buccaneers don't have a great starting quarterback anymore.

It just feels like a lot of the conference is wide open. Yeah, I think one team to watch out for though is the Vikings. With Kirk Cousins, they had a great season last year.

The joint practices between the Niners and the Vikings were really interesting. They've got a really good defense. They've got a lot of good players. It'll be interesting to see if they can kind of repeat that same level of performance as they did last year, but that's another team to look out for. But I think, yeah, Seattle and the Niners are the two in the West, but I would, you know, keep an eye out for a couple teams that, you know, didn't do as well last year. And I think the Vikings, you know, they did play well.

It's just, you know, how they do during the late stretch of the season. My goodness, it's May and already there's buzz. I can't help it though. I love it. This makes me happy.

I get a big smile on my face. So you can find Jennifer on Twitter at Jennifer Lee Chan covers the Niners. We always appreciate it when she joins us from NBC Sports podcast in there too, looking at the new practices. Thank you so much for the Intel. It's great to talk to you.

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That's This is Flee for This Little Lake, a podcast about falling in love with music. I started a nonprofit music school about 20 years ago called the Silver Lake Conservatory of Music. The reason that I started doing this podcast was music education.

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