49ers QB competition: Trey Lance won’t beat out Jimmy Garoppolo right away
By Peter Panacy
While there’s a long way to go, the 49ers quarterback competition between Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo is swaying in the latter’s favor.
Two things can be equally true with regards to the San Francisco 49ers‘ top pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, quarterback Trey Lance.
First, he has all the potential to become a dynamic signal-caller and one of the top players in the league in the not-so-distant future.
Second, he’ll need time to develop.
Not long after the Niners drafted Lance, there was no shortage of chatter suggesting he could immediately replace the team’s current starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. And while it’s still early, the signs are pointing to Lance needing that lengthy development, helping ensure Jimmy G retains control on his job for at least the immediate future. Perhaps all of 2021.
From one OTA practice report, coming from the San Jose Mercury News‘ Cam Inman, it appeared as if Lance was missing high with some throws and not quite hitting on the chemistry needed:
"Lance missed high on a couple passes, one of which bounced off tight end Josh Pederson’s hands and was intercepted by safety Tavon Wilson. Jared Mayden dropped a potential interception on a Lance pass toward Travis Benjamin."
This is nothing to panic about. Not at all, especially for a quarterback who’s played just one competitive game since 2019 and only has a single full year as a starter at the college level.
Meanwhile, Garoppolo’s practice reports have been noticeably positive, as head coach Kyle Shanahan also told Inman:
"“Jimmy looks llike you’ve always known him. He’s been great these two weeks,” Shanahan said. “His ankle seems totally healed,” Shanahan said. “I haven’t asked him about it because he looks so good. Hopefully we’ll give him a few more reps and get everyone in shape.”"
Again, this shouldn’t be a shock. Garoppolo knows the offense. And for the first time since being named San Francisco’s starting quarterback, he has some noteworthy competition.
It appears to be working in Jimmy G’s favor, being pushed that is.
Will Trey Lance soon challenge Jimmy Garoppolo for 49ers’ starting job?
The 49ers didn’t move up to No. 3 overall in this year’s draft to grab a high-quality backup. The full intention is to move on from Garoppolo when the time is right.
For now, though, it’s appearing as if Garoppolo’s job is safe. Lance isn’t coming for it right away, rather going through what promises to be a lengthy learning curve between now and whenever Shanahan feels comfortable handing over the reins.
NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco doesn’t feel as if Lance will be earning the starting job anytime soon, saying on a recent podcast:
"It’s going to be really difficult for Trey Lance to get his game up to the point where he is somebody who can take over for Jimmy Garoppolo and make the 49ers a better team, at least here initially in 2021."
This effectively indicates what the Niners’ plan was for Lance all along: let Garoppolo start one more season while giving Lance as much possible development time as needed, potentially up to a full year as a backup.
All of it could change, of course. After all, Lance is only beginning the baby-step phases of an NFL program and is tasked with learning one of the league’s most complex offenses.
It won’t come easily.
But there’s still the awfully good chance Shanahan makes the switch at that moment where he feels Lance gives San Francisco just as good a chance at winning as Garoppolo is offering right now.
Perhaps that’s still sooner than one thinks.