Trey Lance must be 49ers starter for better or worse

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

It made sense why the 49ers didn’t want to rush Trey Lance right away. But a quarter of the way through 2021, Lance needs to be starting.

When the San Francisco 49ers‘ 2021 preseason came to a close, there was a pretty easy determination to make as far as who should be the team’s starting quarterback.

Jimmy Garoppolo.

For all the hype and hope the No. 3 overall pick from this year’s NFL Draft, Trey Lance, showed both during training camp and in the three-game exhibition period, Lance’s inexperience and rawness were also on full display.

It made sense for the Niners to roll with Jimmy G, too, even though head coach Kyle Shanahan spent all offseason looking for an upgrade, capped off by San Francisco’s aggressive trade-up to No. 3. Shanahan had endured three losing seasons out of four since taking over the 49ers’ head-coaching job in 2017, which put him in the precarious position of trying to win now while also opening up a new, longer Super Bowl window with Lance down the road.

Garoppolo was the safer option, the player with more experience and a better understanding of Shanahan’s offense. Lance, despite his immense raw talents, attempted just 318 passes in his entire collegiate career, which included only one full year as a starter.

Again, it made sense why Garoppolo won out. And it’s not hard to follow Shanahan’s thinking, especially if 2021 was going to be Jimmy G’s “swan song” for the franchise.

Except things have changed. Big time. Let’s dive into how.