49ers news: Matt Barrows reveals the play that ultimately doomed Trey Lance

Trey Lance's bad run with the 49ers proves that it all can be over on just one play of any game.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Where did things all go wrong with the 49ers and Trey Lance? According to Matt Barrows of The Athletic, it all boiled down to this one play.

It's going to be a long, long, long time before the San Francisco 49ers' attempt and subsequent failure to turn Trey Lance into a franchise quarterback becomes an afterthought.

Even if the Niners win back-to-back Super Bowls in the next couple of years, the stain of trading up so aggressively for him in the 2021 NFL Draft is going to linger for a while in the wake of their failure to adequately develop him.

And the deflating trade of Lance to the Dallas Cowboys for a mere fourth-round pick at the dawn of the 2023 regular season put a whimper of an end to that disappointing attempt by general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Where did it all go wrong?

As Niner Noise's Robert Morrison pointed out, there was a domino effect that led to Lance's shocking downfall from a highly prized top draft pick and future of the franchise to a third-string quarterback behind the starter, Brock Purdy, and Sam Darnold.

According to The Athletic's Matt Barrows, however, there was even a finer pin-point incident that ultimately led to Lance's downfall with San Francisco.

And it occurred his rookie season.

Trey Lance's time with 49ers was doomed by broken finger suffered in 2021 preseason vs. Raiders

Barrows appeared on 95.7 The Game on Monday, and his tell about why things went south for the 49ers with Lance centered on an incident that took place during the quarterback's rookie season.

Preseason, actually, when the Niners were hosting the Las Vegas Raiders on Aug. 29, 2021. With Lance getting work in with the second-string unit, one particular throw -- you can view the play here -- resulted in Lance breaking his finger on his throwing hand when it hit a Raiders defender's helmet.

According to Barrows, that started the eventual demise right there:

"On paper, it was a good plan. All it took was one throw in which Lance’s hand went into the helmet of a Raiders player in a preseason game to sort of throw that plan amuck. That’s exactly what happened."

Lance later admitted that the injury took all of his rookie season to properly heal, and he couldn't throw a football the same way he had previously prior to the setback.

"That was just the first bad thing that went wrong,” Barrows added. "It was a series of unfortunate events that kind of left Trey Lance going into Year 3, basically where he was going into Year 1."

Lance was given his rookie year to develop behind Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco's stater at the time. Yet concerns over accuracy and arm fatigue paralleled Lance for all of 2021. Even so, the 49ers were willing to let Lance take his lumps in year two by handing him the starting job.

Only to have him break his ankle early in Week 2 of the 2022 season, ending what would have been his first year as a starter.

You can listen to the entire interview with Barrows here:

From that point, Garoppolo departed but Purdy ascended and Darnold was added.

Per Barrows, however, the downfall began on that lone play in the preseason versus Vegas. Had that not happened, it's probable Lance's trajectory with the Niners would have been very, very different.

But it did happen, Lance failed to develop within the window San Francisco allocated, and the team elected to go in a new direction despite its lofty investment and the inevitable ripple effects that would follow.

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