The San Francisco 49ers traded up to draft Trey Lance with plenty of confidence he could be their long-term franchise quarterback. After two preseason games, an increasing number of people believe Lance shouldn’t have to wait any longer.
After missing a majority of the 2020 college football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, San Francisco’s rookie quarterback got off to a roaring start in his NFL debut. He uncorked an 80-yard touchdown in the preseason opener and head coach Kyle Shanahan wouldn’t close the door on a legitimate competition between Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo.
If there was a wide gap between the two quarterbacks entering the second preseason game, it narrowed. Garoppolo struggled, throwing an interception and hearing fans call for his benching. While Lance showed some jitters early, he settled in and finished with 102 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Fans saw enough, but Shanahan still wouldn’t reveal who will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback in Week 1. While everyone waits for the revelation, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz said there’s a growing buzz around the NFL that Lance is San Francisco’s best option.
If Shanahan is looking for a safer option, Garoppolo is the easy choice. When healthy, he proved that he is good enough to help this scheme operate efficiently and that’s enough to reach the Super Bowl when the surrounding talent is elite.
- Jimmy Garoppolo stats (2019-’20): 5,074 passing yards, 68.7% completion rate, 34-18 TD-INT ratio, 99.9 passer rating
But the 49ers drafted Lance for a reason. Shanahan, one of the brightest coaches in the NFL, wants to revolutionize his offense and that can’t happen with Garoppolo under center. If he makes the switch to Lance, this offense becomes more versatile with RPOs, unique play designs and deep shots a staple of this unit.
There are risks that come with starting a rookie, especially one who is making the jump from playing at the FCS level. Lance still struggles with ball placement and often puts far too much velocity on his throws. He also has room to improve fundamentally, but that comes with reps.
Even if Garoppolo opens the season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, it’s a safe bet he won’t keep the job for long.