The 49ers will have to ride out the rest of 2022 with Jimmy Garoppolo instead of the injured Trey Lance, but are they going to be better for it?
In an odd twist of fate, the quarterback whom the Niners attempted to trade to make way for Lance starting, Jimmy Garoppolo, suddenly reverts back to the starting gig he held a year ago. And for all the questions San Francisco received after electing to retain him instead of releasing him outright, that decision suddenly looks like a genius move.
The 49ers remain a playoff-hopeful squad with Garoppolo now under center, and one can argue the 2022 squad under head coach Kyle Shanahan is even better than the one that made it all the way to the NFC Championship game a season ago. The secondary saw serious improvements during the offseason, and the offensive and defensive lines were once again reinforced.
Should Garoppolo play at the same level he showcased last year, the Niners should be OK.
But are they better with Garoppolo at quarterback instead of Lance? That’s a serious question worth asking.
Big names feel 49ers are better with Jimmy Garoppolo than Trey Lance
Lance was going to face a steep learning curve in his first year as a full-time starter. There’s no questioning that. After playing a mere two starts his rookie year and not having seen the field for a full season since 2019 when he was still in college, his overwhelming lack of experience was going to be a concern.
San Francisco felt, though, it had the roster to support Lance through his 2022 trials.
However, there are those who now feel the 49ers are better off with Garoppolo under center than Lance.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Mike Silver made some waves not only by saying some unnamed Niners players and coaches were happier with Jimmy G starting but also suggested Garoppolo was the better option anyway:
On a more practical level, Garoppolo is tough and calm and projects positive energy — and has been far more accurate than Lance when it comes to throwing the short, middle-of-the-field passes into tight spaces that have been the lifeblood of Shanahan’s offense.
Likewise, Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd, who may or may not harbor some personal grudges against Lance (we won’t go there, but you can search Google or Twitter if you’re curious), shared a similar sentiment by saying, “You feel bad for Trey Lance, but the team is better today:”
Even former 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, now working with Amazon Prime on Thursday Night Football, noted the following about the Niners being just fine with Jimmy G:
On the surface, all of these takes bear some merit. Sure, it’s fine for fans to tear into Silver, Cowherd or even question Sherman a bit. But the surface-level arguments point out the obvious.
San Francisco knows it can win with Garoppolo. It doesn’t fully know yet what it has in Lance. And if you’re talking experience, with or without operating in Shanahan’s offense, Garoppolo has that in his favor, too.
All that counts for a Super Bowl-hopeful squad.
The 49ers may be better now with Jimmy Garoppolo, but Trey Lance is more important in the long run
If you want to argue the 49ers actually improve with Garoppolo under center, fine. Perhaps they are in some facets. Garoppolo has a quicker release and a more established rapport with some of the Niners’ top offensive weapons, namely tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel. And what San Francisco will lack in missing Lance’s athleticism and potential, it’ll gain with Garoppolo’s experience.
All valid points.
Perhaps the 49ers are better… right now. But the Lance investment wasn’t about the immediate future. No, the Niners were making a play they’d hope would pan out handsomely over the next 10 years. It wasn’t intended to be an immediate investment.
And if you’re thinking San Francisco is still on the fence between Lance and Garoppolo at this very moment, just check out what FanSided NFL insider Matt Verderame had to say about the situation:
The Niners will say all the right things. Stuff about believing in Garoppolo and knowing what he can do. But that’s nonsense. If they believed in the veteran, they wouldn’t have handed the job to Lance this spring, or traded three first-round picks to acquire him in 2021. San Francisco believes its potential is capped by Garoppolo, and while the 49ers have reached two NFC Championship Games over the past three years with him, it’s a hard notion to argue.
Again, the 49ers sought Lance as an eventual upgrade over Garoppolo, not an immediate one. That’s why Garoppolo was named the 2021 starter.
Yet the Niners also needed Lance to absorb the experience he’ll now lose by missing all of 2022, too, casting serious doubts upon whether or not he can rise to that level San Francisco was hoping he’d reach.
If he does (and he still very much can), no, the 49ers aren’t better off with Garoppolo over the long run.
Even if they are in the interim.