4 free-agent quarterbacks 49ers can target to push Trey Lance

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/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 /

The 49ers are poised to start Trey Lance in 2022, but it would be wise to land a veteran mentor during the offseason. These four free agents make sense.

2022 is going to mark the year when the San Francisco 49ers make the full transition from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the No. 3 overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance.

Sure, Garoppolo has played well enough in the second half of the season to thwart any thoughts Lance should be starting for the Niners now. But San Francisco’s need to clear cap space, paired with the lofty investment general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan made to acquire Lance, means Garoppolo is playing his final weeks with the 49ers.

Lance, whose relative inexperience at the collegiate level at North Dakota State, still needs a veteran mentor, though. A proverbial “Steve DeBerg to Joe Montana” kind of relationship early in Lance’s career despite Garoppolo being in that role for one season.

And while the 2021 NFL free agency market isn’t exactly chock full of high-quality options under center, there are a number of modest veterans who could at least serve as a mentoring backup to Lance, tutoring him as necessary and pushing him to develop even further.

Here are four who can help in this role in 2022.

49ers mentor for Trey Lance No. 4: Brian Hoyer

Sure, Niners fans probably want nothing to do with seeing veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer donning a San Francisco uniform again, not after what Hoyer failed to accomplish during his brief stint with the team back in 2017 before the high-profile trade for Garoppolo that year.

Yet that doesn’t erase the fact Hoyer is at least familiar with Shanahan’s offense, both with the 49ers and Cleveland Browns in 2014, and Hoyer’s journeyman status over the years has at least kept him competitive enough to stay in the league ever since.

And the New England Patriots have already tasked Hoyer with being a mentor to their 2021 rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, this season already.

Hoyer’s role, as would be the case for any mentor for Lance, would merely be as a trusted advisor, someone who could point out how the offense can function against certain coverages, what to look for in matchups and so on.

The same kind of role Hoyer is currently serving with the Pats, nothing more.