Could 49ers use platoon system with Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance?

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The 49ers featured both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance in a quarterback rotation against the Raiders, but is this going to continue in the regular season?

Could those present please raise your hands if you had the San Francisco 49ers using a platoon system at quarterback for their final preseason game?

I hope none of you did because that was something that came completely out of left field in the Niners’ 34-10 routing of the Las Vegas Raiders in their dress rehearsal for the regular season.

Unorthodox? Definitely. But there’s also no denying the fact that the Raiders defense was totally bamboozled by San Francisco constantly switching quarterbacks during the game.

Granted, it was the backup Raiders defense and there was no warning whatsoever that the 49ers we going to do anything like this, but it worked.

Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance worked very well off one another. Garoppolo being more of the pocket passer type with functional mobility, while Lance has ridiculously fast legs and a ridiculous cannon for an arm. What ensued was something that hadn’t been seen in the NFL for some time.

The platoon system is nothing new in football, of course, and is still done quite regularly at the high school level. But it’s certainly antiquated for the NFL, in an era where even middling quarterbacks are in lines for mammoth contracts due to the sheer importance of the position.

But clearly, head coach Kyle Shanahan has at least mooted the concept of using a platoon system, given this was the important ‘dress rehearsal’ where he had his starters on the field.

Shanahan has been quite coy about if he’ll use the tactic in the regular season in his interview after the game, saying:

"I just wanted to get live action with it. We’ve done it in practice a couple of times and this was the last time before we’re going to get in the regular season. So it’s the last time you can have the opportunity to do it. I kind of wanted to do it with this game."

Perhaps what makes this intriguing is how the circumstances line up very nearly for San Francisco to use the platoon as a tactic.

49ers still trying to maximize Jimmy Garoppolo’s value?

Garoppolo is not the future of the 49ers, but he is still on the roster. The team wants to recoup as many picks as possible from the trade to get Lance, and a needy team could part with as much as a first-round NFL Draft pick in exchange for Garoppolo’s services. Remember, the Philadelphia Eagles once traded quarterback Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a Round 1 pick when the Vikings were desperate in the wake of their starter, Teddy Bridgewater, suffering a serious injury back in 2016.

Lance, a prospect many considered to be raw and in need of learning from the bench to begin his career, has developed faster than the Niners could have dreamed. He’s not ready to be given the starting role right away (his preseason throws showed he still had some learning to do), but he’s definitely earned the right to some playing time.

The need to get maximum trading leverage with Garoppolo and the need to give Lance some game time fits together quite nicely with the idea of a platoon.

There’s one thing for certain, the 49ers could be using a rather unique system when they open the regular season against the Detroit Lions.

Next. 49ers: 4 players whose roster value took a hit in win vs. Raiders. dark