The close of the 2022 campaign was an emotional one for the San Francisco 49ers, who entered the NFC Championship Game riding a 12-game, 98-day win streak. The team's appearance in last weekend's conference championship marked the 49ers third trip to that stage of the playoffs over the last four years. While it may not have been the ending to the season San Francisco had envisioned, players are walking away knowing they finished amongst the top franchises in the league once again.
"It confirmed the talent we have on the roster from top to bottom," All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams said. "The way this team comes out and competes, the brand of ball that we play, we know it's conducive to winning. We know that we are a resilient bunch... We rolled with the punches, and we did what we could do."
Linebacker Fred Warner also echoed those sentiments.
"We had a team ready to win it all, it just didn't go our way," Warner said.
This 2022 team worked through a unique kind of adversity between its 3-4 start to the year and the loss of all three of its starting quarterbacks to season-ending injuries. No matter what obstacles got thrown their way, the 49ers found a way to win. While there will be some roster turnover, as is the norm with NFL rosters year to year, the team's deep postseason run and prospective crop of returning players makes veteran tight end George Kittle optimistic about San Francisco's chances in 2023.
"I don't know how you can't be confident in Brock Purdy and what he put together," Kittle said. "I don't foresee us losing too many of our skill positions going in to next year, obviously there's contracts and stuff after next season, but we have a possibility to go out there and compete at a really high level from right away... Trey Lance is throwing again here soon, and it will be a nice competitive battle for him."
Defensive lineman Nick Bosa shares that confidence in the incoming roster.
"It was an unbelievable season, and I think we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to build on," Bosa said. "I think there's going to be a lot of the same guys back so that's exciting."
No decisions have been made regarding the quarterback situation just yet, however, should preliminary recovery timelines hold up for both Lance and Purdy, both could be in game ready shape for the start of the 2023 regular season. In his final address before heading into the offseason, head coach Kyle Shanahan pointed towards in-house talent leading the 49ers offense in the fall as opposed to seeking out a high-profile veteran free agent.
"I know we have two starters on our team right now that I believe we can win with," Shanahan said. "When you have that situation, you're not that eager to go looking around."
Lance has started four games over the course of his two seasons with San Francisco, while Purdy made eight starts this season after stepping in during the team's Week 13 matchup. The possibility of establishing that continuity with the quarterbacks under contract is something Kittle is looking forward to when training camp rolls around.
"Being able to build some rapport with someone consistently would be very fun, and that's not Jimmy Garoppolo's fault, that's not Trey's fault, it's not Brock's fault... Hopefully, we can eliminate that bug and just play quarterback."