When the 49ers traded up to the No. 3 pick, giving up three first-round selections, many assumed Lance would be the target. He was the perfect quarterback to sit behind Garoppolo for a year, before being unleashed in 2022.
Suddenly, draft rumors hinted that Kyle Shanahan wanted Mac Jones. As the buzz around Jones to San Francisco grew louder, the 49ers started shopping Garoppolo. While valuing Jones that highly was stunning, he was relatively pro-ready and could step in as the 49ers’ quarterback immediately.
Shanahan drafted Lance, viewing him as the best dual-threat weapon to take this offense to the next level. Soon after the pick was made, Garoppolo vowed to mentor the rookie and many believed the veteran would stay and open the season as the starting quarterback.
But that might not be a foregone conclusion. NFL insider Dan Graziano appeared on ESPN’s Get Up, detailing how Lance will compete for the 49ers’ starting gig and disclosing that a Garoppolo trade is still on the table.
“Can Trey Lance have a good enough summer to make the 49ers confident in their ability to trade Jimmy Garoppolo and to make Trey Lance the starter? I think that’s a key storyline to watch around the 49ers this summer and don’t rule out the possibility that it does happen and Garoppolo ends up somewhere else”ESPN’s Dan Graziano on Get Up
Who will be the San Francisco 49ers quarterback in 2021?
Lance isn’t favored to be the starting quarterback in Week 1. He only played in one game last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, making the jump from the FCS to the NFL is an extremely daunting challenge.
But he ran a pro-syle offense at North Dakota State, something Jones and even Trevor Lawrence can’t say. He’ll also have the benefit of getting reps in rookie minicamp and will receive plenty of opportunities when training camp arrives.
Based on physical tools and upside, Lance is the better option for the 49ers. He boasts a stronger arm and his athleticism makes him the perfect fit for this run-heavy offense. Garoppolo’s experience in this system works in his favor, but rookie quarterbacks taken with a top-10 pick don’t sit for long.
It’s wise for the 49ers to keep Garoppolo for the time being. He’ll be a great mentor for Lance this summer and insurance at quarterback is never a bad thing. While there are no teams with glaring needs at quarterback right now, an injury could change that and give the 49ers more leverage in negotiations.
Even if Lance doesn’t win the starting job to open the season, it won’t take him long to wrestle the gig away from Garoppolo. Once that happens, the 49ers could move quickly to use their wealth at quarterback to upgrade the roster.