Representatives from all 32 NFL clubs are spending some time down in Phoenix, Arizona this week for the NFL Annual League Meeting. The event runs from March 26 to March 29 and brings together NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, league officials and teams' high-ranking front office staff to discuss and vote on action items for the 2023 season.
San Francisco general manager John Lynch is among the 49ers brass attending the four-day event and, on Monday, spoke with the media to share important updates from the team.
Here are five takeaways from Lynch's offseason address:
Quarterback Brock Purdy's timetable for return should become clearer three months after his surgery.
After undergoing a successful right elbow repair surgery in early March, the 49ers signal caller is completing the first part of his recovery program in Gilbert, Arizona. Per Lynch, this initial part of Purdy's rehab work involves mostly range of motion exercises. A clearer timeline for the quarterback is expected to come together around the 12-week post-surgery mark when Purdy is slated to begin his throwing program.
"All things are going really well," Lynch said. "Brock is going to work. He's going to do everything they ask and more. They (Dr. Keith Meister and medical team) were very pleased with the way the surgery went, so we're excited about that."
Prior to surgery Purdy was given a six month recovery timeline, and the general manager was asked about the possibility of his young quarterback progressing through rehab faster than expected.
"Our hope is that he's ready to go in training camp. We'll see how everything goes," Lynch responded. "We're going to do what is right for Brock because that is right for our organization."
Lynch detailed the state of the 49ers quarterback room.
The 49ers quarterback room got a shakeup during the early part of free agency with the departure of Jimmy Garoppolo and the addition of Sam Darnold from the Carolina Panthers. It's still a trio at QB, and the question of who will be the starter in 2023 remains with two of the three players, Trey Lance and Purdy, still working their way back from injury. While Lynch did not name a starter, he did give insight into where the 49ers personnel stands at this point in the offseason.
"I think Brock has earned the right with the way he played," Lynch responded when asked if Purdy would be the starter when healthy. "He's probably the leader in the clubhouse at that. I'll let Kyle Shanahan make those kind of decisions, but I know when we talk, I think Brock's probably earned the right to be the guy if we were to line up."
Lynch went on to reiterate his enthusiasm for Lance post-ankle injury and the recently acquired Darnold. Both will have the opportunity to compete during the team's offseason programming.
"He (Lance) has been working really hard, and we love the opportunity to bring in Sam Darnold and his skill set." Lynch said. "We think it's a really good fit. We like that room a lot."
Offensive lineman Colton McKivitz is next in line at right tackle.
With Mike McGlinchey gone, all eyes are on McKivitz to be the starting right tackle for San Francisco. McKivitz, who was originally slated to become one of the 49ers three exclusive rights free agents, was signed to a two-year extension through the 2024 season prior to the start of the NFL free agency period. In his three seasons with the team, the swing offensive lineman has made 28 appearances (five starts) and has played in five playoff games. McKivitz's only start of 2022 was in place of All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams.
"We like Colton, we have for a long time," Lynch said. "That game he filled in for Trent Williams, he went in there and did a really good job as a left tackle. He's been a good swing tackle. Colton is a good player, and he will get a crack at that job. There will be a competition, but we are excited about him being able to man that job."
Additionally, San Francisco signed free agent offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Matt Pryor, both of whom have experience at tackle, to add some depth at the position.
The 49ers plan to exercise Brandon Aiyuk's fifth-year option.
The former 2020 first-round draft pick closed out the year as the 49ers No. 1 wideout, catching 78 passes for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns. In addition to his career-best receiving year, Aiyuk also added two carries for 23 yards on the ground. He's a valuable member of Shanahan's skilled position arsenal that the team does not plan on parting ways with anytime soon. As Aiyuk inches towards his fourth season with the 49ers, the team has a small window to make a final decisions on his contract's fifth-year option. The official NFL deadline for teams to decide whether or not they will exercise a fifth-year option for players chosen in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft is May 1.
"Brandon has been excellent for us," Lynch said. "It's interesting when you're at these league functions, ownership meetings, combine, a lot of people ask about him. They really appreciate his game and they see it ascending. He's a guy we are very fortunate to have, and I think he is just coming into his own. I think it's only going to get better, so we're excited about watching Brandon move forward with us."
Lynch gave insight into the team's plans for the kicker position.
With Robbie Gould currently an unrestricted free agent, the 49ers are looking to insulate themselves at the kicker position. The Zane Gonzalez trade may be just one move to ultimately solidify a specialist trio for 2023, but for now, San Francisco's braintrust feels good about it. The team is leaving the door open to bringing more competition for the kicker job next season.
"Our special teams have liked him, his talent, his ability," Lynch said. "We're excited to get a talented kicker, and we'll see whether we add competition. He's been a guy in this league. He's got a big leg. He's got a lot of talent. Our guys are excited to work with him."