Can Brock Purdy capitalize on a purdy good 2022?
At times, the 2022 49ers weren't pretty, but they were effective, as Mr. Irrelevant helped guide San Francisco to an NFC championship game appearance vs. the Eagles last season. With Jimmy Garoppolo out of the picture, this is Purdy's show for better or worse in 2023.
Purdy is going to have to navigate a few hurdles to truly solidify his standing at the top of the depth chart. First, it's the health of his elbow. Purdy underwent surgery to rectify an injury he suffered in that NFC championship game, and it's still unclear if he'll be ready for Week 1.
Once Purdy is back from injury, he'll have to hold off Trey Lance, who has dealt with several injuries of his own through two short seasons in the NFL. Lance missed the entirety of the 2022 season with an ankle injury he suffered in Week 1. Then, there's Sam Darnold and … well, there's Sam Darnold, too.
MORE: Watch every 2023 49ers game with Fubo (free trial)
The 49ers have one of the NFL's most intriguing quarterback situations entering the 2023 season. Here's how to watch Purdy's ascent — or descent — this upcoming season.
San Francisco 49ers schedule 2023
The 49ers' full schedule, including dates, times and locations, was unveiled on Thursday, May 11. Here's the complete rundown including opponents, dates, times and TV channels for the 2023 season:
|1||Sept. 10||at Steelers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|2||Sept. 17||at Rams||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|3||Sept. 21||vs. Giants (TNF)||8:15||Amazon Prime|
|4||Oct. 1||vs. Cardinals||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|5||Oct. 8||vs. Cowboys (SNF)||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|6||Oct. 15||at Browns||1 p.m.||Fox|
|7||Oct. 23||at Vikings (MNF)||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|8||Oct. 29||vs. Bengals||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|10||Nov. 12||at Jaguars||1 p.m.||Fox|
|11||Nov. 19||vs. Buccaneers||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|12||Nov. 23||at Seahawks (Thanksgiving)||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|13||Dec. 3||at Eagles||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|14||Dec. 10||vs. Seahawks||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|15||Dec. 17||at Cardinals||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 25||vs. Ravens (Christmas)||8:15 p.m.||ABC|
|17||Dec. 31||at Commanders||1 p.m.||Fox|
|18||Jan. 6/7||vs. Rams||TBD||TBD|
49ers strength of schedule
It won't be a major mountain to climb for the 49ers in 2023, as they have exactly a middle-of-the-pack strength of schedule. The 49ers' 2023 opponents had a .514 winning percentage last year, which is tied for 15th in the league.
MORE: Which NFL teams have the easiest, hardest strength of schedule in 2023?
Toughest tests: The Eagles downed the 49ers in the NFC championship game this past season, and the 49ers are going to have to travel east to face Jalen Hurts and Co. during the regular season in a rematch. The 49ers also travel to play Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence on the road, making for three difficult quarterback matchups away from Levi's Stadium.
Biggest breaks: The 49ers get to play Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott and Daniel Jones at home, making for a pretty balanced home-and-road slate of games. They also get to play against a weakening NFC West, with a rookie head coach in Arizona (and potentially without Kyler Murray), and a pair of unknowns in the Rams and the Seahawks.
Bottom line: We've seen Kyle Shanahan work through the dark arts to get his QBs to operate effectively within his system, and we saw it again with Brock Purdy last season. Purdy is going to have to capture Jimmy Garoppolo-levels of efficiency once again to push the 49ers through to the playoffs. A schedule that features a division that might be on the downswing will help San Francisco's playoff hopes.
Record prediction: 11-6