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Can the 49ers really win with ANYONE at QB? A simulation investigation

The San Francisco 49ers have some soul searching to do at quarterback. They have Trey Lance, a player who underwhelmed, but they invested immense amounts of draft capital into. Then there’s Brock Purdy, the Mr. Irrelevant phenom who became one of the best stories of the 2022 season. Finally we have Jimmy Garoppolo, the reliable, oft-criticized hand who might give this team the best chance to win right now.

Lance and Purdy are on cheap rookie deals. Jimmy G will cost considerably more as a free agent, but has his fair share of supporters including Niners great Joe Montana. This whole discussion about what the team has done at QB has people wondering: Can anyone win at QB with this team?

San Francisco boasts one of the NFL’s best defenses. It’s skilled at every level with no discernible weakness. Meanwhile on offense life is made considerably easier thanks to Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. It’s enough to make people wonder if the system is so good in the Bay Area that the QB himself doesn’t really matter.

Let’s put that to the test with the best tools available to us: Madden 23. What happens to the 49ers when we sim an entire season, changing only the QB? Is it true that this big decision really isn’t so difficult when anyone can be effective on the 49ers?

Meet Zach Wilson, starting quarterback of the 49ers

I’m not going to lie, this took a stupid amount of work to actually make happen. The Jets were extremely reluctant to accept trades for Zach Wilson. Finally I managed to convince them by trading Jimmy G and two draft picks to get Wilson’s services.

Now the big question [hits simulate season]


The team went 11-6, won the NFC West, made it to the playoffs before losing to the Giants in the divisional round. As for Wilson, he absolutely lit the NFL on fire while working in the 49ers offense.

And now, your new quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers… Baker Mayfield!

I don’t know if this is turning the difficult slider up or down — but we have a benchmark. Wilson had the 49ers win the division at 11-6 and go to the playoffs. Mayfield is a statistically superior quarterback in Madden, so naturally the team should do better, right?

[hits simulate]


It’s not as impressive as a Wilson-led Niners team, but they still win the NFC West.

The team goes on to lose to the Packers in the Divisional Playoff round, but now we’re two-for-two on “anyone can win with the 49ers.” However, the biggest test is yet to come because it’s time to meet …

Nathan Peterman, starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers

It’s now time for the biggest test of the “49ers can win with any QB” theory. Nathan Peterman is unquestionably one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, and his 49 overall rating makes him one of the worst in Madden 23 as well. There is absolutely no way this team can go to the playoffs again, right?

[presses button]


Peterman did better on the Niners than Baker Mayfield did — and not only that, but he set the league on fire.

This time the team lost again in the Divisional Playoff round, this time to the Washington Commanders. It happens, especially when you’re led by Nathan Peterman.

At this point I started to lose hope. Is there any way to make the 49ers lose? A desperate situation causes a rash move…

Welcome 49ers starting quarterback, kicker, 39-year-old Robbie Gould

Yes, this is possible. As a quarterback rating Gould is a 12. Yes, TWELVE. Nathan Peterman is four times the QB that Robbie Gould is. It’s time to demolish the 49ers once and for all.


It broke.

Okay, so it didn’t break exactly — but I absolutely could not force the 49ers to start Robbie Gould at quarterback for 17 games. I tried literally everything. I made it impossible for the CPU to sign anyone from free agency. I removed roster minimums at each position. I turned off auto-filling rosters and I removed all injuries. I ensured there was NO chance the team could ever find another QB, and every single time I simmed a season with Robbie Gould at quarterback the game would reject my human override, sign Brock Purdy, and finish out the year.

We found Madden’s breaking point, and it was starting quarterback Robbie Gould.

So, what did we learn from all this?

Despite all the angst about who will start for the 49ers in 2023 we’ve seen that the team can keep winning with absolutely anyone. So, my suggestion for Niners fans who are busy arguing over Lance vs. Purdy vs. Garoppolo to know that literally anyone can bring this team success.

Unless of course they ask for Robbie Gould to play quarterback, then the stadium might burst into flames.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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