49ers roster predictions: 4 bold changes for 2021 lineup

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (5) and Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

While the 49ers’ 2021 roster and potential starters seem set, there are always a few wrinkles and unforeseen changes. Let’s predict some.

Going through the San Francisco 49ers‘ 2021 offseason roster, it’s not too difficult to make some pretty accurate assumptions of what the eventual regular-season 53-man roster will look like, although the back end can be hard to predict.

And it shouldn’t be too difficult to assess just what the starting lineup will look like either. After all, there is perhaps only a handful of starting positions open. The bulk of players will be competing for the remaining reserve roles or potentially a spot on the Niners practice squad.

Each year, however, there are at least a handful of surprises, and we shouldn’t expect anything different this season. Head coach Kyle Shanahan won’t simply go with a starting player because he’s getting paid more or was a higher draft pick. If someone outperforms someone else during training camp or the preseason, he’ll start.

But let’s be bold here and predict some major roster and depth-chart shakeups for San Francisco this season, starting off with one the fans will certainly wonder about the most.

Bold Prediction No. 4: Trey Lance beats out Jimmy Garoppolo for 49ers’ starting quarterback job

Do I think this will actually happen? No. Do the 49ers want it to happen? Eventually.

Look, Jimmy Garoppolo is entrenched as the Niners’ starting quarterback, and he currently gives the team a better shot at winning games than the highly drafted rookie, Trey Lance.

But this is where the business of football could create a shift.

Garoppolo’s $26.4 million cap hit this season is a lot of money. And the sooner San Francisco can get out from under it, the more money it’ll free up to extend key players like linebacker Fred Warner, who could easily make more than $18 million annually on a new deal. The same goes with EDGE Nick Bosa, who could eventually command more cash than any other defender in league history.

Considering the rollover benefits, the 49ers might decide the business decision is smarter, parting ways with Garoppolo and letting Lance start, even if the latter would probably benefit a bit more by sitting for a full season.