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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Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers did wrong by Trey Lance not embracing the ‘quarterback competition’

Kyle Shanahan knew he was toeing a thin line the moment the Niners’ trade to No. 3 overall went public. Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t going to be happy, there were going to be ripple effects within the locker room and the slew of unknowns were going to play themselves out.

Still, Shanahan committed to Garoppolo starting right after training camp. And even in the wake of Garoppolo’s Week 4 injury, Shanahan continued to stress there wasn’t an actual competition between him and Trey Lance.

“Trey’s done a good job,” Shanahan told reporters. “I feel like he’s getting better each week, but that’s why he was the No. 2 quarterback going into that game.”

This is just the latest in a long line of comments dating back to the preseason, ones which highlighted there being no competition whatsoever and Garoppolo being “the guy.”

Comments are one thing, though. Preparation and development are different factors entirely.

In the same post-Week 4 press conference, Lance hinted that he wasn’t receiving anywhere close to the necessary number of first-team reps during weekly practices:

"I don’t have a number for you, honestly. But I stay ready mentally, physically, whether it’s walkthrough, practice, virtual reality, whatever it is. I try to do the most during the week to keep myself prepared."

Shanahan, too, said there were “packages in for him” with regards to Lance. Up to this point, though, Lance’s time on the field has been primarily with the scout team. Not with the starters.

This, perhaps, is where Shanahan has gaffed the most with regards to the process. He should have embraced the idea of a competition between Lance and Garoppolo, one that didn’t simply end during the preseason but rather one that’ll continue each and every week.

Now, with Garoppolo’s injury, it’s going to be highlighted even more.