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3 reasons why Trey Lance is the San Francisco 49ers best option at QB

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers dropped their second consecutive game Sunday, losing to the Seattle Seahawks by the score of 28-21. Rookie Trey Lance ended up coming in to replace an injured and inconsistent Jimmy Garoppolo under center.

Lance ultimately tallied nearly 200 total yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Sure some of that came with Seattle playing prevent defense. But it became rather clear that he adds another element to a struggling 49ers offense.

We have absolutely no idea the extent of Garoppolo’s injury heading into a huge Week 5 outing against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. San Francisco will find out within the next day or so whether Garoppolo will be able to go.

But for now, it’s time for San Francisco’s brass to finally admit that Trey Lance is their best option moving forward on the season. Here’s why.

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With or without Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers are not Super Bowl contenders

san francisco 49ers not super bowl contenders
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Despite starting the season with a 2-0 record, holes on this roster became pretty darn apparent. The hapless Detroit Lions came back from a 41-13 second-half deficit to San Francisco in Week 1, only to lose by the score of 41-33.

This was a harbinger of things to come. In what has to be considered a foolish mistake, the 49ers’ brass largely avoided the cornerback position during the offseason. Instead, general manager John Lynch and Co. were relying on an injury-plagued Jason Verrett to step into the No. 1 role. This, after Verrett played in a combined 18 games over the past five seasons due to injury.

Like clockwork, the former Pro Bowler went down with a torn ACL late in that season-opening win over the Lions. San Francisco has struggled defending the pass since then, relying on veteran journeymen after veteran journeymen. This has included bringing in the likes of Josh Norman, Dre Kirkpatrick and Buster Skrine off the streets.

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What is the moral of the story here as it relates to Trey Lance starting over Garoppolo? As it currently stands right now, San Francisco’s pass defense is going to be one of the primary things holding this team back from contention in 2021. What we saw from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on their game-winning drive in Week 3 coupled with continued penalties against San Francisco’s secondary on Sunday both add a new element to this.

2021 is a transition year for Trey Lance and the San Francisco 49ers

san francisco 49ers' trey lance
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

That brings me to one of my biggest points. If the 49ers are not legit Super Bowl contenders, the 2021 season has to be seen as one of transition for this franchise. Perhaps it was a foolhardy belief that this team was as good as the 2019 iteration that shockingly made it to the Super Bowl. It’s also possible that a lack of activity on the free agent front at cornerback and other positions of utmost need represented a mistake from the team’s brass.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the best San Francisco can hope for this season is a wildcard spot. If that is indeed the case, what’s the actual reason for waiting to start Trey Lance? Other rookie quarterbacks in that of Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson have struggled big time this season.

Does this mean Lance will follow suit? I am not too sure. He looked darn good in his first extensive regular-season action Week 5 against Seattle, completing 9-of-18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns while adding 41 rushing yards on seven attempts.

What does Jimmy Garoppolo provide the San Francisco 49ers that Trey Lance doesn’t?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Limited. That’s the best way to describe San Francisco’s offense through the first four games of the season. And in reality, a lot of that is on Garoppolo.

We can focus on the quarterback’s career 26-10 record as a starter. We can focus on the fact that he’s accounted for five touchdowns against one interception this season. Those stats are fact. They are also misleading.

Garoppolo is a quarterback who provides absolutely nothing on the ground. When San Francisco’s rushing attack isn’t going, defenses hone in on the passing game. His inability to get the ball to receivers down the field and outside the hashes create major issues, especially in Shanahan’s scheme.

At the very least, Trey Lance provides San Francisco with that dual-threat ability. He will make defenses think. He has a cannon for an arm and a willingness to throw the ball down the field.

The counter to this argument would be the inevitable mistakes Lance will make under center. But is that any different than Garoppolo losing a fumble late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against Green Bay? I don’t think so.

In the end, the San Francisco 49ers might have overvalued their roster heading into the 2021 season. They might have overvalued Garoppolo himself.

Now, heading into Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals, it’s time for San Francisco to face reality. As a non-contender, Trey Lance is its best option moving forward.