After Trey Lance was officially placed on injured reserve with a broken ankle, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch decided to further strengthen his quarterback position with the addition of Kurt Benkert NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Benkert, a fifth-year pro who previously had stints in Atlanta and Green Bay, was released by the Packers in June and, after failing to find a new home for the summer, now finds himself a spot on the 49ers’ practice team, where he is will serve as QB3 behind Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy from 2022’s seventh round.
If the Niners think Purdy is poised to play a bigger role going forward, the addition of Benkert could prove to be nothing more than added depth as the game’s most important position. However, if Iowa State’s product needs more spice before he’s ready to be a game away from full-time action, Benkert may be brought onto the active roster and a full-time member of the Niners in time for Week 3 if a spot on the 53rd -man list opens.
Benkert, a two-star high school recruit, received four scholarship offers, including from USF, UCF and Western Kentucky, before finally committing to play his college ball for Eastern Carolina, according to ESPN.
After appearing in just three games as a redshirt freshman in 2014, Benkert was lined up to start for the Pirates in 2015 before suffering a premature cruciate ligament tear that cost him the entire season. From there, the Benkert graduate moved to Virginia, where he rushed for 5,817 yards and 42 touchdowns in just 21 interceptions and set the single-season program records for passing yards (3,207), completions (298), attempts (509), and over 200 yards passing plays (nine) and total offenses (3,144).
All of that on-field success wasn’t enough to get Benkert called up, however, as despite receiving a sixth- through seventh-round grade from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, he ultimately signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent.
“Gunslinger who holsters an NFL-caliber right arm but needs to work on his marksmanship and decision-making,” Zierlein wrote in his draft profile. “Benkert’s final results are disappointing on intermediate throws, deep throws and against the blitz. He has the arm talent to make all throws but has shown no signs of getting accurate enough to ever be more than a backup at best.
Luckily, Benkert’s living arm has since put him to work at the NFL level. Benkert has spent most of his time on the training team and has had the opportunity to learn under Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers and soon the 27-year-old will also be able to add the Garoppolo name to that list.
When asked if Purdy would make the 53-man roster after training camp, Kyle Shanahan had nothing but praise for the incumbent Mr. Irrelevant.
“Thanks to Brock for how well Brock played this preseason,” Shanahan said on his team’s official website. “I thought he would be on our practice team because we were very happy with Nate, but Brock won that job and we would go into the year with him number two. And we were good with that, because he deserved it. But then Jimmy has to be available and know that with that experience and what he’s done in the past, we could have Jimmy as number two. I don’t think we’ve had a year here where the quarterback has played in every single game. Maybe 19. Yes, 19 was the only year. Whoever that backup is is a big deal and we were thrilled to go with Brock but to have a veteran like Jimmy who has proven himself in this league just how good a quarterback he is. I can’t imagine a better situation.”
After putting his head down and doing his best to showcase his talents in preseason, Purdy is now probably just one step away from seeing the field and becoming the most relevant Mr. Irrelevant in the history of the award.