49ers roster: 4 rookie backups who’ll be starting by end of 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 1: 49ers Quarterback Trey Lance
Ah, yes. The high-profile rookie who’ll look to seize a starting job this season, quarterback Trey Lance.
It’s possible an injury to the veteran starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, opens up the door for Lance to start sooner than anticipated. But let’s assume Jimmy G stays healthy for the time being. Would Lance even get the chance to start this season, or would he follow in the path of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who had to wait a full year in 2017 while he was Alex Smith’s understudy?
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The fact San Francisco traded off three first-round draft picks to move up and get Lance at No. 3 overall tells you almost everything you need to know. Kyle Shanahan will want to move on from Garoppolo and insert Lance as soon as the latter is close enough to be just as effective under center.
And while Lance had his share of ups and downs this preseason, there’s no denying the idea the rookie is much closer to starting than originally anticipated when the 49ers selected him in the draft.
Now, the only question is when.
Should Shanahan make the switch from Garoppolo to Lance for any other reason but an injury, or if Lance plays well enough in relief of a would-be injured Garoppolo, there’d be no going back.
Judging by the investment, it’s certainly likelier to happen well before the Niners’ final stretch to close out the regular season.