The Titans found their new general manager this week, hiring 49ers executive Ran Carthon as the successor to Jon Robinson. Is it possible they accidentally found their new quarterback as well? Moments after Carthan's hiring was first reported, Trey Lance posted a cryptic message to his Instagram story, attaching three "fingers crossed" emojis to a picture of Carthan. The 49ers signal-caller has been sidelined since Week 2 due to injury, and his future in San Francisco is increasingly unclear thanks to rookie Brock Purdy's emergence as the team's late-season starter.
Lance has posted well wishes to colleagues and teammates before, and his "fingers crossed" message may be just that: an expression of hope that Carthan, who's spent the last six years in the 49ers' front office, excels in Tennessee. But in today's landscape, where contract feuds and trade talks can genuinely ramp up in the wake of social media hints, some have interpreted Lance's post as a tease that he'd like to follow Carthan to the Titans -- or, more specifically, that Carthan will bring him along.
Whether or not that was Lance's intent, it's not hard to make the leap in interpreting it that way. While the 49ers almost certainly aren't eager to part with Lance just two years after trading up to draft him No. 3 overall, the reality is the QB situation has changed in San Francisco. Even with veteran Jimmy Garoppolo due to hit free agency, Purdy has seized the starting job down the stretch, going 6-0, including playoffs, as an emergency fill-in. Barring a divisional round meltdown or an injury of his own, in fact, Purdy seems to be on the fast track to opening 2023 as the 49ers' QB1.
The Titans, meanwhile, could be in the market for a new QB -- particularly a longer-term option. Their current starter, Ryan Tannehill, is a potential salary cap casualty via trade or release thanks to a pricey contract. And their only other QB under contract beyond 2022 is third-round rookie Malik Willis, who was replaced by Joshua Dobbs at the end of the season. Carthan, the Titans' new GM, notably served as San Francisco's director of player personnel when the 49ers moved up to draft Lance.