Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance relationship is still crucial for 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

It’s possible Jimmy Garoppolo never plays another down for the 49ers again, but his relationship with Trey Lance remains key for the rest of the season.

Behind the scenes, there might be a disconnect between quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers.

In the wake of Garoppolo’s Week 16 thumb sprain, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters there wasn’t a fracture, but conflicting reports from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter said there was, in addition to a Week 17 report Garoppolo might require offseason surgery.

Whatever the controversies may be behind “Thumbgate,” Garoppolo has nevertheless remained the consummate professional on the field.

Namely in support of the quarterback on the brink of completely replacing him, rookie Trey Lance.

We haven’t always seen these kinds of relationships go well. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was initially cold to his front office in the wake of the Packers drafting quarterback Jordan Love in 2020, while Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was reportedly cold-shouldered to then-rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph back in 2019.

It doesn’t appear as if Lance is getting that kind of treatment, though.

49ers will need Jimmy Garoppolo to mentor Trey Lance as long as possible

The Niners’ 2021 campaign could come to a close in Week 18 if they lose to the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons. Or, if San Francisco gets into the playoffs, it could extend much further into January.

Considering the nature of Garoppolo’s injury, there’s a chance he won’t play again for the 49ers, setting himself up to be an offseason roster transaction that’ll open up the door for Lance to be the full-time starter.

Lance showed what he could potentially offer the Niners offense during that Week 17 win over the Houston Texans, throwing for 249 yards with two touchdowns against an interception, also regularly targeting deep down the field and along the sidelines.

Elements Garoppolo doesn’t necessarily have in his arsenal.

But there are going to be mistakes, too, such as that interception. And while Garoppolo has had his fair share of gaffes on the field, the 30-year-old veteran’s experience is something Lance will need to learn from for however long the two remain teammates.

Trey Lance is happy Jimmy Garoppolo as ‘a huge help to me’

Understandably, Lance was asked about Garoppolo’s presence during postgame press conferences following Week 17.

Lance didn’t shy away from talking about the relationship he has with the quarterback he fully intends to replace:

"I’ve said a million times, Jimmy is one of the best teammates and leaders I’ve ever been around. So for me to have him, I know he’s got my back on the sideline, whether good play or bad. He’s the first one that is talking to me and making sure that we’re seeing things the same way.So it’s a huge help to me. Huge confidence booster, just that I know that he’s another guy that’s got my back."

Garoppolo wouldn’t have to do this. And while he might not be viewed as a great teammate if he didn’t, it would at least be understandable why Jimmy G might not embrace Lance right out of the gate.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo will leave a rollercoaster legacy with 49ers

Again, we’ve seen situations like that play out before.

Sure, Lance might want to avoid picking up on some of Garoppolo’s negative tendencies on the field, such as relying too heavily on checkdown options or failing to see that lurking linebacker in the middle of the field.

Yet there are other elements Lance would be wise to absorb, and those will need to be honed for as long as San Francisco’s campaign continues this season.

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