How 49ers botched their handling of Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance in 2021

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (5) and Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers botched Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance situation during the offseason

The whirlwind of speculation, controversy and question marks all throughout 2021 and into the regular season is a direct product of how the Niners approached their situation with Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance.

The initial plan made sense: draft Lance with the full intent of letting him develop behind Garoppolo, then try trading Garoppolo away in 2022 for a solid return while opening up the door for Lance to emerge as the starter.

San Francisco has stuck to that plan, likely understanding Lance’s inexperience at the collegiate level.

The problem, though, is it created a circus. A sizable one, and any in-season dialogue about the 49ers’ four-game losing streak, locker-room tension or whatever always came back to one thing: Garoppolo vs. Lance.

The Niners opened the door for this possibility, knowing fully well it would happen. And while winning tends to solve matters, such as its previous three-game win streak, San Francisco hasn’t moved at all away from that narrative.

Instead, the 49ers should have done the following:

  • Sign a veteran quarterback to a cheap deal to act as a mentor
  • Draft Lance at No. 3 overall
  • Cut Garoppolo

True, trading Garoppolo this offseason might net a high draft pick in return, perhaps a Round 2 selection. But freeing up nearly $24 million owed to him in 2021 would have instead afforded the Niners to be more aggressive on the free-agent market, likely in 2022 when Lance would need additional help.

Proven players are better than unknown draft picks.

Yet there’s more to how San Francisco botched this whole situation, fully in-season decisions, too.