49ers news: Trey Lance, Trevor Lawrence on different trajectories

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The 49ers have a vastly different context on their hand with rookie quarterback Trey Lance than the one the Jaguars are experiencing with fellow rookie Trevor Lawrence.

It’s easy to look back at high-profile NFL Draft picks when they don’t pan out and say “they were a bust.”

San Francisco 49ers fans should know this well, particularly looking back at the last time they took a quarterback within the top five selections — the 2005 drafting of now-retired quarterback Alex Smith. Smith heard plenty of “bust” monikers associated with his early career between that year and 2011, the season when things finally started to come together for the No. 1 overall pick.

One thing to acknowledge, however, is how disjointed a franchise the Niners were back in those days.

That’s the situation San Francisco is looking to avoid with its most recent top-five quarterback selection, Trey Lance. And it’s not too hard to see how vastly different the 49ers of 2021 are compared to those dark days when Smith was drafted.

Almost on the flip side, the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ No. 1 overall selection of quarterback Trevor Lawrence in this year’s draft might remind many a Niners fan of Smith’s experience back in 2005, too.

It matters where high-profile NFL Draft picks land

Take your pick between San Francisco and Jacksonville for which team is closer to a Super Bowl right now.

Not hard, right?

Lance, the No. 3 overall selection and the player generally considered the rawest of all first-round quarterbacks drafted this year, is arguably in the best overall situation of any.

And that situation matters, as former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch told FanSided’s Matt Lombardo:

"When you look at these young quarterbacks, it comes down to the circumstances they’re in. How much talent is there, how much help do you have? How much pressure are you under to score every time you have the ball, because your defense isn’t going to be able to stop anybody? Those conversations happen, and as a young quarterback you have to know that you cannot put your team in bad or worse situations, particularly by putting the ball on the ground or turning it over."

Smith regularly clashed with then-49ers head coach Mike Nolan. And while there’s no indication Lawrence will have issues with first-year NFL head coach Urban Meyer, Meyer is still going through his own adjustments from the collegiate ranks.

And the responsibilities of rebuilding a downtrodden pro franchise, which will be vastly different and more challenging than what he ever experienced on the NCAA level.

49ers have better situation with Trey Lance than Jaguars have with Trevor Lawrence

Even though Meyer kicked around the story the Jaguars were featuring a competition between Lawrence and Gardner Minshew during training camp, the ultimate conclusion was a foregone one:

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan has remained non-commital in saying whether or not Lance will get the Week 1 start over the incumbent veteran, Jimmy Garoppolo.

But as another NFL personnel executive told Lombardo, Shanahan doesn’t have to rush Lance into the fray:

"I’d sit Trey Lance for at least the first half of the season. Because you have a good situation there with (Jimmy) Garoppolo, who you can win with."

Lance has had his preseason growing pains, yes, including taking six sacks over the course of roughly four quarters of play. At the same time, however, Lance has also demonstrated the athleticism, arm strength and playmaking capacity that drew San Francisco to him over other first-round options like quarterbacks Justin Fields or Mac Jones.

And while Lance came in at No. 4 on Fox Sports’ Rob Rang’s power rankings of first-round rookie quarterbacks over two preseason games so far, the fact Lawrence, a prospect considered the surest thing at quarterback since Andrew Luck was selected first overall by the Indianapolis Colts back in 2012, was ranked fifth out of five says something:

"Lawrence was deservedly the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 draft, but his tools and national championship pedigree have not yet translated into touchdowns for the Jaguars. In fact, in his combined eight series over two games, the Jaguars have attempted two field goals (both against the Saints), making one.What was immediately clear in Lawrence’s NFL debut against Cleveland on Aug. 14 is how used to stellar protection he became at Clemson. In a humbling “Welcome to the NFL” moment, Lawrence was sacked on his very first dropback. He was also sacked on his final drop Monday night against the Saints. Both defenses boast talented pass rushes that simply overwhelmed Jacksonville up front at times."

Hot Read: Trey Lance won’t start Week 1 unless 49ers do this

The 49ers have a better roster than that of the Jaguars. That’s a given. But the Niners are also in a position where they can afford to bring Lance along slowly, potentially letting him sit at the beginning of the season.

Both quarterbacks having issues with pressure is a constant. For the Jaguars, though, it’s probably not a sign of immediate relief.

And Lance should feel happy he’s in a much better situation as a result.

Next. Winners, losers from 49ers preseason win vs. Chargers. dark