Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t letting Trey Lance unseat him anytime soon
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers continued to get great play from Jimmy Garoppolo in their Week 11 win over the Jaguars, and Trey Lance won’t be taking over anytime soon.
The San Francisco 49ers‘ 30-10 Week 11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars taught us a few different things.
For starters, the Niners are back in the thick of the playoff hunt, which is always good news. If San Francisco plays a clean game, it’s capable of beating both low-level competition (the Jaguars) and high-level competition (the Los Angeles Rams).
In both of those games, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked like a quality signal-caller. Not elite, not someone truly capable of shouldering the entire offense.
But good enough.
Garoppolo went 16-of-22 for 176 yards, two touchdowns against zero interceptions all for a 126.3 passer rating. And while he missed a wide open running back Jeff Wilson for what would have been the easiest six points of the 49ers’ season thus far, Garoppolo nevertheless responded with two other key touchdowns in the game, one to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and another to tight end George Kittle.
Over his last four games, including the Niners’ Week 9 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Garoppolo has now gone 75-of-109 (68.8 percent) for 1,006 yards, six touchdowns and, most importantly, only one interception.
For those thinking a declining Garoppolo would lead to rookie quarterback Trey Lance suddenly getting an increase in snaps, think again.
Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t letting go of 49ers starting QB job
When San Francisco was mired in its four-game losing streak, the calls for Lance made a lot of sense. As long as the 49ers were losing games, there wasn’t much rationale for the No. 3 overall pick from this year’s NFL Draft to miss out on some much-needed field time.
Especially considering other rookie quarterbacks, such as the Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence, are making their own strides towards developing into quality signal-callers and franchise-changers.
In a sense, Lance saw an uptick in play in Week 11 after not taking the field at all since his lone start way back against the Cardinals in Week 5, including one rush for a long of 7 yards that generated the first down that iced the game for the Niners.
But it’s clear head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t going to swap Garoppolo for Lance outside of garbage time or injury, and the days of going back and forth between the two seem to be a thing of the past.
Essentially, Garoppolo is playing too well right now to justify any move.
And as long as San Francisco is winning enough games to stay in the mix, that’ll be the case.
Will 49ers make the switch from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance this season?
One could make the argument Garoppolo is playing his best football with the 49ers over these last four weeks, resulting in a 3-1 stretch for the team and a return to the once-unthoughtful playoff discussion.
While Garoppolo might not be anything close to elite, him having tossed just one interception over that stretch highlights what he’s doing well: not making mistakes.
Related Story: What Trey Lance has to do to justify 49ers draft investment
Perhaps the only way anything changes, aside from injury or a complete Garoppolo meltdown down the stretch, would be if the Niners find themselves fully eliminated from playoff contention.
At 5-5, San Francisco is only out of the NFL playoff picture because of conference record, looking up at the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, who both have identical records.
An elimination isn’t likely to come until much later in the regular season now, meaning Lance is likely to remain the No. 2 option. Whether or not that’s the right decision for the long term is another point altogether.
But it doesn’t erase the notion Garoppolo is making any choice easier to switch.