Three Questions for Conference Championship Losers: San Francisco 49ers

Social Navigation

Three Questions for Conference Championship Losers: San Francisco 49ers


In back-to-back seasons, the 49ers have come one win short of the Super Bowl. Their loss to the Rams last season and the Eagles on Sunday has Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers back at the drawing board this offseason.

The 49ers have a few big questions to answer before they can begin the road to a third straight NFC Championship game next season.

What will the 49ers QB situation look like in 2023?

Brock Purdy? Trey Lance? A free agent?

John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan created an offense in San Francisco, seemingly plug-and-play under center. Until it wasn’t on Sunday during the NFC Championship game.

When Brock Purdy was knocked out of the game on San Francisco’s opening drive with what has since been diagnosed as a UCL tear, the 49ers finally ran out of quarterbacks. Veteran backup Josh Johnson was ineffective before a concussion knocked him out of the game.

Now, San Francisco heads back to the drawing board after a second straight season-ending loss in the NFC title game. Brock Purdy’s ETA is sometime in August for now. Trey Lance figures to be ready for camp after suffering a broken ankle in Week 1 against the Bears. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely have moved on.

So, the 49ers now have to decide whether to open the season with the unproven Trey Lance, or the slightly more proven Brock Purdy, who took them to the NFC title game this season. Purdy will be playing on a surgically repaired throwing elbow. Lance, a mobile quarterback, will be playing on a surgically repaired ankle.

Or do the 49ers go outside for help? Maybe a hometown veteran looking for one more Super Bowl before he rides into the sunset?

Either way, it will be one of the more fascinating stories to follow this offseason.

Will the 49ers re-sign OT Mike McGlinchey?

Whomever the 49ers open the season with at quarterback, they’ll need to be protected. San Francisco will have a big decision to face on the offensive line this offseason.

Do the 49ers bring back offensive tackle, Mike McGlinchey?

McGlinchey played some of his best ball down the stretch, leaving him well-positioned to be one of the top offensive tackles on the market.

The fifth-year tackle allowed six sacks on the season (tied for 15th-most in the league), and none in the playoffs, per PFF, and now will enter the offensive lineman market with the possibility of signing a handsome multiyear contract in free agency thanks to his experience.

“Some of my best friends are in this locker room. I have a great relationship with staff, coaches, front office,” McGlinchey told reporters after the 49ers’ NFC Championship loss. “Our ownership group’s probably the best in football.

“You know, hopefully the cards fall in my way, but it is a business. We’ve got a lot of players in this locker room, a lot of good ones, and a lot of people that deserve to get paid. And we’ll see how it goes.”

The 49ers weren’t willing to meet McGlinchey’s demands last season, and they also have Colton McKivitz waiting in the wings. There’s a strong possibility that the 49ers will part ways with McGlinchey this offseason and spend that money elsewhere.

Who replaces DeMeco Ryans?

With DeMeco Ryans’ impending departure, the 49ers will have a hole to fill at defensive coordinator. Ryans was phenomenal in the role since taking over for Robert Saleh ahead of the 2021 season, so it’ll be big shoes to fill.

The 49ers could look outside the organization. Brian Flores is still likely in the market for a defensive coordinator spot after spending a year in Pittsburgh as the linebackers coach.

Vic Fangio was reportedly heading to Miami this weekend. He’s since told at least two reporters that no decision has been made on his end. Might the 49ers’ DC job be more appealing to the well-regarded Fangio?

The 49ers could hire from within like they did when Saleh took the Jets’ head coach job two years ago, making way for Ryans. Linebackers coach Johnny Holland has done an excellent job with the linebackers room in San Francisco. Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek helped build a fearsome front in San Francisco.

Ryans’ familiarity with the San Francisco scheme made his promotion upon Saleh’s exit seamless. Is that something that Kyle Shanahan will value this time around as well?

I would imagine that Fangio would be a slam-dunk hire if he chose to take it, but if not, San Francisco may very well go the internal route for Ryans’ replacement.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.