49ers roster 2021: Trey Lance can start his rookie season

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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Trey Lance, North Dakota State Bison, 49ers NFL Draft
Quarterback Trey Lance #5 of the North Dakota State Bison (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /

Why Trey Lance starts for 49ers in 2021

There are obvious financial reasons why the Niners would prefer Trey Lance beating out Jimmy Garoppolo for the right to start this season.

If this takes place, there’s little doubting San Francisco would move Garoppolo at the soonest possible moment, maybe not getting a high-profile draft pick via trade but at least getting out from under up to $23.6 million in cap space in 2021 with an additional $25.6 million in cap space saved next year, per Over the Cap.

For a 49ers team looking to lock up players like linebacker Fred Warner and EDGE Nick Bosa long term, that money would go a long way while Lance plays out his four- to five-year rookie contract.

Hot Read: 4 reasons why Trey Lance starts for 49ers in 2021

We can sing Lance’s praises all day. That’s not hard. He has a strong cannon for an arm, displays a pro-level understanding of NFL-caliber offenses and has extreme rushing prowess, too, having gained 1,100 yards on the ground in 2019 with 14 rushing touchdowns, which would give Kyle Shanahan’s offense a dynamic it hasn’t had since 2017.

But perhaps the biggest endorsement, at least according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco (h/t Niners Nation), is how quickly Lance has been absorbing the Niners’ offensive development for him:

"He might be the only person since I’ve been covering the team, which is about a quarter of a [century], that from one week of OTAs to the next week, you could actually see the improvement. The first week we went out there and he just kind of seemed to be a little bit unsure of himself, a tick slow. The ball was sailing high. You could tell there was just a lot going on in his head. And in the next week, he went out there and you could tell — he was directing traffic, moving guys from spot A to spot B, and he threw the ball a little bit more accurately. It’s not often that you see a dramatic change that you can see with your naked eye."

Maiocco has seen a lot, so that’s a pretty glowing review.

And make no mistake: San Francisco won’t hesitate to pull the plug on Garoppolo if Lance gives just as good a chance at winning games by the time training camp draws to a close.

If this is the case, look for Lance to be the Week 1 starter.