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Biggest NFL training camp battles at every offensive position: Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, Sam Darnold set for one of the offseason's biggest competitions

2M41G9P San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 11, 2022, in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS/Sipa USA)

• All eyes on the 49ers' QB battle: Many analysts would have Brock Purdy down as the unquestioned starter if he is fully healthy during camp, but even if he is healthy, it still shouldn’t be a stone-cold guarantee.

• Who takes the WR1 role in Kansas City? We know Travis Kelce will be the top target man on the team. Even at age 33, the veteran tight end led the team in targets last season. However, the Chiefs' No. 2 player on the target list, JuJu Smith-Schuster, is gone.

• Who's stepping up to protect Aaron Rodgers? The Jets would love to be able to rely on Mekhi Becton to be their left tackle this season. But the former 11th overall pick has struggled with injuries and played only 739 snaps over his first three seasons. He missed the 2022 campaign entirely.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

As we enter into the summer months of the NFL calendar, attention starts to turn toward training camps.

With many snaps and starter positions up for grabs, here are the position battles we’ll be watching as the season gets nearer.


Trey Lance vs. Brock Purdy vs. Sam Darnold

There are a handful of choices here. The Colts have a battle between veteran Gardner Minshew and first-round rookie Anthony Richardson, which should be exciting. The Buccaneers seem to be in for a heated training camp showdown between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. However, the quarterback battle with the most on the line will be the one taking place in San Francisco between Trey Lance, Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold.

From Week 13 to the playoffs, it felt like Purdy was the darling of the NFL world. During that stretch, he threw 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions, ranking second among the league's quarterbacks in yards per attempt (8.4). But unfortunately, he suffered a serious season-ending elbow injury that required offseason surgery.

Many analysts would have him down as the unquestioned starter if he is fully healthy during camp, but it still shouldn’t be a stone-cold guarantee even if he is healthy. After all, the seventh-round draft pick earned a 79.1 passing grade in his best stretch, which is solid, but he paired just five big-time throws with four turnover-worthy plays.

Lance was the quarterback the Niners traded all those draft picks for back in 2021, but he just hasn’t played much football. He played in a run-heavy offense in high school, where he attempted 20 passes in a game just once. He then got only one year as a starter at North Dakota State in his entire college career. He backed up Jimmy Garoppolo in 2021, then played just two games as a starter in 2022 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. There’s a ton of promise to him, but we have to see it this summer.

As for Darnold, he likely won’t be too much of a threat for the starting job unless Purdy and Lance aren’t healthy enough to go.

This battle not only means a lot for the two young quarterbacks who are making their case to be starters and franchise guys but also because the Niners should once again be poised for a conference title run.


Tyler Allgeier vs. Bijan Robinson

When the Falcons drafted Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, many assumed he would immediately step in as the lead back and take the lion's share of the work. But perhaps there’s a bit of a Lee Corso “not so fast, my friend” to be had here.


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