NFL Network's Ian Rapoport apparently was too premature with his earlier discussions on 49ers quarterback Trey Lance.
It's important for fans to understand two key aspects to what NFL insiders often reveal.
The first is a report, which stems from a source (either named or unnamed) that foreshadows something that has yet to happened or has happened but isn't official just yet.
The second is an opinion. It might be based in reports and could eventually be proven correct. But it's still an opinion.
Last March, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport gave an opinion on who the San Francisco 49ers' Week 1 quarterback would be. It wasn't Brock Purdy, the 2022 Mr. Irrelevant rookie who ended up carrying the offense all the way into the NFC Championship game. No, Purdy is still recovering from offseason elbow surgery. And it wasn't Trey Lance either, the No. 3 overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft who seems to be left out of the Niners' future quarterbacking plans.
It was actually Sam Darnold, San Francisco's offseason free-agent pickup who was another third-overall draft pick back in 2018 but flamed out with both the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers since.
"We do not know what Trey Lance is going to be if he continues the trajectory that he's been on. And I think, certainly, it seems Sam Darnold will more likely than not be the starter going into the season, but there is an opportunity for someone to step in there and start [the] first couple of games of the regular season for the 49ers."
Rapoport saying "I think" gives it away that he's offering his opinion. Not a report.
Either way, the NFL Network insider caught some heat for it, and it actually came from the 49ers.
49ers barked back at Ian Rapoport for report and speculation on Trey Lance
March wasn't the only time that Rapoport hinted at an uncertain future for Lance. During the 2023 NFL Draft, Rapoport suggested the Niners wouldn't trade Lance when his value was awfully low, rather they'd so so at a point where there was potential need for a starter.
Rapoport suggested August as a realistic point, possibly when another team lost a quarterback to a training camp or preseason injury, perhaps.
Whether it was that report or last March's suggestion, San Francisco apparently wasn't too pleased about what Rapoport had to say, and he made that clear on a recent episode of The Pat McAfee Show (h/t 49ers Webzone):
"I got a lot of pushback from people there (inside the 49ers building) who were like ... "Why would you discount Trey Lance?" And I'm like, "I get it," but Trey Lance is not ... we have not seen ... whatever Trey Lance is going to be, we have not seen."
It's important to know that teams use insiders like Rapoport as mouthpieces to spread information (or misinformation) for whatever the reason, and the offseason is a perfect time to do it.
And then there are leaks from within the organization, too, which aren't necessarily sanctioned by the team itself.
There are also opinions and reports, one of which apparently landed Rapoport in a bit of hot water with San Francisco.