Shanahan Nears Backup QB Decision; Kittle, Lance, Aiyuk and More Score TDs

The San Francisco 49ers second to last preseason practice is in the books, and in the matter of a week, the team will be making the necessary moves to reach the league-mandated 53-man roster deadline. Players looking to cement their place on the 49ers roster will have Wednesday's workout and Friday's preseason finale to put some final plays on tape before final decisions are made.

Here are highlights from Tuesday's practice at the SAP Performance Facility:

The Quarterback Competition is Almost Ironed Out

Head coach Kyle Shanahan is nearing the order of his quarterback depth chart as training camp winds down. Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy remains the team's projected starter, however, the big question mark of the summer has everything to do with who will be backing him up in 2023.

"We'll probably announce it before we play Pittsburgh but not this (Chargers) game," Shanahan said.

There is no shortage of options available to San Francisco with Trey Lance, Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen all on the roster through this final week of the preseason. Up until this point, second-team reps have been split between Darnold and Lance evenly, with each guy rotating first up with the twos and then swapping out every other team period. Game reps have also been split down the middle between the quarterbacks. Lance started against the Las Vegas Raiders to open the preseason, and Darnold took over after the opening drive versus the Denver Broncos through the third quarter. Shanahan also noted that the backup quarterback position is subject to change as the season progresses.

As for what to expect in terms of quarterback rotation in Friday's matchup, that also has not been decided just yet.

"Today is a big part of (deciding order against the Chargers) that and tomorrow," Shanahan explained. "We'll decide after these two practices."

Practice Observations

Tight end George Kittle, who was one of six players to rejoin the team on Monday, participated in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since suffering his adductor strain. He caught a couple passes from Purdy, including a shot over the middle for a score in red zone drills.

All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams was also back in team drills after taking a veteran rest day to start the week. Meanwhile, running back Christian McCaffrey took his day off on Tuesday.

As has been the case of late, the 49ers fourth quarterback, Brandon Allen, did not participate in team drills.

"It's hard to play four guys. It's a challenge," Shanahan said. "We got him a lot earlier in camp, knowing that, especially when we had threes. We don't even really do threes now. Our ones consist of ones and twos and our twos consist of twos and threes. It's tough to get those (reps) at this time."

Purdy took all the reps with the first team offense, and Darnold got the first opportunity with the twos. Purdy's sharpest series came at the tail end of practice during a move-the-ball period in which he connected on four-of-four pass plays. The five-play series ended with a touchdown throw to wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the back left corner of the end zone.

In red zone drills, Purdy hit Brandon Aiyuk for six points. Shortly after, Lance scrambled for a score and also linked up with wideout Tay Martin for another TD.

On the other side of the ball, defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw tipped a ball to himself and nearly netted another interception for San Francisco's defense. The 49ers defensive backs also had themselves a day with D'Shawn Jamison, Tre Swilling and Ji'Ayir Brown recording pass breakups. Defensive lineman Javon Hargrave had a would-be sack during 11-on-11 drills.

Related Content