49ers should trade Trey Lance in wake of his damning demotion on depth chart

The 49ers could keep Trey Lance, yes. But the right thing to do would be to give him a new setting elsewhere in 2023.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The 49ers have named Sam Darnold the primary backup quarterback behind Brock Purdy, which means Trey Lance is now a lame duck who should be traded.

It's time for the San Francisco 49ers to pull the plug on their prized investment from the 2021 NFL Draft, quarterback Trey Lance.

Not necessarily for their sake. After all, given the Niners' run of bad injuries at the position, having a promising quarterback like Lance on the roster might actually be a good thing.

As insurance, at least.

That said, San Francisco can show some respect to Lance by giving him a shot to compete elsewhere. And the best way to do that and recoup at least some of the massive investment spent to acquire him back in 2021 would be by the way of a trade.

One that should be executed sooner than later.

49ers name Sam Darnold the No. 2 quarterback, pushing Trey Lance down the depth chart

Earlier in the week, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that he was "undecided" when it came to naming the primary backup quarterback to Brock Purdy. There was still an open-ended competition between Lance and Sam Darnold, and with one more preseason game to go, it made sense when Shanahan said he might not announce the job until just before Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But news leaks.

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, Darnold is being named the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, which by default pushes Lance to No. 3:

Earlier in the offseason, Rapoport speculated the 49ers wouldn't want to keep Lance around as the third-string quarterback and may look to trade him later in the summer, perhaps in August.

It's August now. And that's what the Niners should look to do.

49ers must do right by Trey Lance and trade him

San Francisco is never going to get anything in return close to the investment needed to grab Lance: three first-round draft picks and a third-rounder, but it at least can recoup something.

Maybe a conditional third-round pick that turns into a Round 2 selection, depending on how much Lance plays with his new team this season.

More importantly, though, trading Lance away for whatever the best bid might be would at least be doing best by him, too, and giving him a shot that he never truly had with the 49ers because of a large number of different circumstances, many of which were beyond his control.

Purdy emerging, Lance's devastating 2022 ankle injury and other X-factors all led to this. And if Lance isn't going to be in the Niners' long-term plans, there isn't any reason to hold onto him any longer.

But there's no reason to simply waive him outright either. At least getting something, anything in return would be smart business.

Letting Lance find his career elsewhere would be smart business, too, for both parties.

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