4 second-year 49ers poised for a breakout 2022 season

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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The 49ers will be looking at these four second-year players to have massive contributions to the team in their sophomore 2022 seasons.

The San Francisco 49ers’ 2021 NFL Draft class will be defined by one player’s success or failure, quarterback Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick.

But Lance saw only modest amounts of the field his rookie season, getting in solely on special plays or for the two starts he made in the wake of injuries suffered by the starter, Jimmy Garoppolo.

As such, Lance’s contributions in year one were minimal, yet there were plenty of other notable efforts from some of the other picks the Niners made over the course of last year’s draft.

With one year in those players’ belts, 2022 could be a crucial turning point. And a number of those players San Francisco drafted could wind up having breakout-type campaigns in their respective sophomore seasons.

Let’s take a look at four who could fit the bill.

49ers breakout player No. 4: Quarterback Trey Lance

Simply put, the 49ers need Lance to break out as a full-time starter in 2022. They hinged their future on it with that aggressive trade-up last spring.

Lance’s rawness his rookie year was on display, yes, and it’s important to note he attempted just 318 passes in college and only turned 21 years old shortly after being drafted. That said, Lance also showcased the raw abilities only a handful of quarterbacking prospects can deliver.

Those are reasons why NFL analyst Greg Cosell feels why Lance could make the Niners offense special, as he told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco:

"Offensively, you have to believe they’ll be improved—or different. I shouldn’t say “improved” because we don’t know. Lance is still a prospect in many respects, so I think the offense will look different. Ideally, it will be better because Lance gives you more dimensions."

Those dimensions include scrambling abilities and a much stronger arm, elements Garoppolo didn’t have.

So, as long as Lance can master the average-level of quarterback Garoppolo provided, San Francisco’s offense could put the second-year pro in a great position to succeed.