49ers depth chart: Ranking 5 most important backups in 2021

Offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill #60 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill #60 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: 49ers Quarterback Trey Lance

Well, when looking at the most important backups on San Francisco’s roster, it would be silly to consider anyone else but the team’s top pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, quarterback Trey Lance.

Lance is effectively a backup in name only, rather he’s the future of the franchise and the prospect the 49ers hope can take over under center for the next five or even 10 years.

In the meantime, though, Lance will be expected to develop as the No. 2 quarterbacking option behind the assumed starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, for at least the bulk of the upcoming season. True, this is temporary, and the eventual expectation is for Lance to be named the starter in 2022 at the very latest.

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But that doesn’t mean Lance avoids seeing the field at all this season.

The likeliest of scenarios is for head coach Kyle Shanahan to begin inserting Lance into some favorable situations here and there over the course of 2021, not unlike what the Baltimore Ravens did with then-rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson back in 2018.

This would help Lance get acclimated to life at the NFL level a bit sooner than just standing on the sidelines during games, and it would also ease the transition from Jimmy G, too.

Yet Garoppolo also comes with an injury history, magnified by him missing all but six games last season.

So, if Garoppolo suffers yet another setback this year, and given the Niners’ playoff aspirations, Lance has to command a lot of attention as a backup right now and an eventual starter down the road.

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