These 3 factors ultimately spelled the end for Trey Lance with 49ers

Trey Lance didn't turn into an afterthought in a complete vacuum. No, there were plenty of X-factors along the way.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
4 of 5
Darien Butler, Sam Darnold
San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Factor No. 3: Sam Darnold won 49ers' QB2 battle this offseason

There's no telling exactly how this came about, but in the KNBR interview on Wednesday, Kyle Shanahan noted that Sam Darnold won the job starting "about 10 days ago" when "Sam really separated himself" from Trey Lance.

Clearly, a lot of this happened behind close doors during practices, where only Shanahan and the rest of the coaching staff can see who the leader in battles like this are.

This is especially true given how much improved Lance looked in his stint during the 49ers' second preseason game at home against the Broncos. Lance finished the game 12-of-18 for 173 yards with one touchdown and one interception on an extremely athletic play by Bronco's defensive lineman Elijah Garcia, who snatched an attempted screen pass out of the air.

But the most telling thing was that Lance appeared to improve as the game went on, getting more comfortable as he got into rhythm, something that only comes with more reps and opportunties to play.

So maybe that game, along with Darnold simply outperforming Lance during practices, proved to Shanahan something that he likely knew all along: Lance's need for consistency and to get into a rhythm like that meant that if he wasn't going to be the starter then he couldn't be trusted to be the backup.

All these factors came together to lead to Lance to the worst place a player can be: NFL limbo.