49ers QB outlook: who will join Trey Lance?

What is the 49ers QB outlook in 2022?

By: Jake Rajala

The San Francisco 49ers have been headed by the roller coaster ride of a quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo since 2014. In 2021, the genius Kyle Shanahan took it upon himself to find a more suitable long-term QB for his talented NFC West team. Shanny would of course draft Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL draft. Flash forward to Week 18 of the 2021-2022 season, we have a better idea of what Lance’s ceiling is, Jimmy G’s outlook, and how far the team is away from obtaining a Lombardi trophy. 

Needless to say, it appears that Lance is a QB that holds gifted talent, yet he’s still learning how to read defenses and utilize his skillset to the best of his ability. At the same time, it looks obvious that Lance will take complete control of the reigns between himself and the veteran Jimmy G in the 2022 offseason. 

We’ve seen Jimmy fail to run away with the future QB gig. The story hasn’t changed this season, as Jimmy G has been a pleasant game manager at best. He hasn’t thrown over two touchdowns in a single game, he’s been injured, and he’s been a ghost in big-game situations. Most recently, the 49ers GM John Lynch liked a negative tweet about Jimmy G after the disappointing defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. He claims it was an accident, but it does appear to be a very “uncoincidental accident”. 

The 49ers could very well look to capitalize off of Jimmy G’s potential by trading him at this stage in his career — as he is only 30 years old. Per, NFL.com, the 49ers actually do intend to trade Jimmy G in the offseason. I’d say that the veteran QB didn’t help his chances of staying on the team with his most recent production. So, the question begs to ask. If Jimmy G is out the door, who could join Lance in the Bay Area? Well, here are a few realistic options.

Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota is a 28-year-old, dual-threat QB, who will be a free agent in 2022. The former Oregon Duck would be the PERFECT value pickup at the QB position. Mariota, who’s pushed Carr until his brakes have nearly fallen off, could see the 49ers as a potential starting opportunity. The 49ers would be spending less money on a potentially better fit with Mariota than Garoppolo. 

Andy Dalton

I know this isn’t a sexy pick. Yet, it’s publicly known that Shanny strongly admires the red rifle. Shanahan was reportedly upset when he couldn’t get his hands on the former playoff QB in the 2021 offseason. Andy Dalton might not have the ceiling of a Jameis Winston or even Jimmy G, but he can be a reliable QB2 that won’t miss wide-open WRs. 

Josh Johnson

Josh Johnson showed that he was still very athletic in the place of Lamar Jackson. The QB that has clocked a 4.44 40 time threw for 5 passing touchdowns to 2 interceptions for the Ravens in two contests. Johnson would be a nice QB2 to rotate in for Lance on read-option plays next season.

Who is the front runner for the 49ers QB position?

Will Trey Lance or Jimmy G start for Kyle Shanahan?

By: Steph Sanchez

It feels like not too long ago, we were speculating about Jimmy Garoppolo’s future in San Francisco after a turbulent 2020 season derailed by an ankle injury. The questions would not stop after John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan traded up to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Still, 49ers brass went out of their way to assure the media that Garoppolo wasn’t going anywhere. When the 49ers selected Trey Lance, it made sense to many why the team would feel comfortable keeping a proven veteran presence such as Garoppolo. Lynch and Shanahan cited the Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes model several times, adamant that Jimmy Garoppolo is their starter. At the start of training camp, Shanahan even said there was “no open competition [at quarterback] right now.” 

By now, we shouldn’t take everything this team says at face value. Let’s not forget the way Shanahan had the NFL media convinced that they were interested in drafting Mac Jones at 3. Trey Lance’s camp performances had local media raving early. So much so that it felt that not considering Lance as the Week 1 starter seemed nearly impossible. 

So far, it seems that there is at least some truth to Shanahan’s words. It’s clear that the starting job will not, in fact, be handed over to the 21-year-old rookie. He will have to earn it. And not only that – Garoppolo will have to lose it. The 49ers are doing a great job of playing both sides and tempering national media and fan’s eagerness to see more of Trey Lance. John Lynch joined ESPN Adam Schefter’s podcast and when asked about Lance said he’s been “tremendous”. He then immediately shifted the discussion toward Garoppolo: “Lance being here has brought the best out of Jimmy Garoppolo…in practice in the offseason and practice in training camp thus far, he’s playing the best football since he’s been here.” Quite the ringing endorsement.

Through training camp, the “non” competition has been fierce. The first few days seemed to belong to Trey with reports like the ball “jumps out of his hand”. He takes risks downfield, he can run. Do these things sound familiar? No, because Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t do these things. It’s not Jimmy’s fault that Trey Lance’s strengths are Garoppolo’s weaknesses. But it’s likely no coincidence either. Being that as it may, Garoppolo is still doing what he does best. He strung together a number of solid practices, usually on days where the rookie struggled. 

Trey Lance’s struggles are the kind you would expect from a rookie still learning and adjusting to life in the NFL. A couple of botched handoffs, sometimes throwing too high and above his receivers are just a couple of the mistakes we’ve heard of Lance making. Garoppolo’s struggles are the same we’ve seen from the veteran before – throwing behind his receivers, no velocity on his throws, interceptions, no deep ball accuracy or power. Garoppolo is who he is. He can do the things he does well but we know (because we’ve seen) that he will mix in a few mistakes largely due to his limitations. 

Jimmy Garoppolo finished training camp with the following stats 128 completions out of 204 attempts, earning him a 62.7% completion rate. Of those 128 attempts, he threw seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Trey Lance on the other hand finished with 115 completions out of 167 attempts. This gives Lance a 68.9% completion rate with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. Two of Lance’s touchdowns were rushing touchdowns. 

It is important to note that Garoppolo has spent camp with the first-team offensive line and most of the first-team skill position players. Lance had a total of two snaps with the first-team offensive line in all of camp. The rest of his time was spent behind the reportedly abysmal second-team line. It’s also important to put into perspective that the second-team defensive line has players that could be starters on other teams. 

It’s hard to gauge Lance’s performance if he and Garoppolo are not given equal opportunities. It seems like Shanahan wants to put Lance through the NFL gauntlet before deeming him “ready”. The tough question is what constitutes as “ready” in Kyle Shanahan’s mind. We may never know the answer to this question until Shanahan names Lance the starter. Recent quotes from John Lynch and Shanahan may be an indication as to how they’re currently leaning on their decision. Just within the week before the team’s first preseason same, Kyle Shanahan said “Trey Lance is going to play for us this year”. When asked about the quarterback starting job, John Lynch said “It’s Jimmy’s right now and Trey’s pushing.” 

In the team’s first preseason game against the Chiefs, Jimmy Garoppolo played just one series to start the game. It was a serviceable, classic Garoppolo performance.  He hit his guys for short yardage throws and let his receivers do the rest with their YAC abilities. Trey Lance played 29 snaps which felt like a good chunk of the game. He only played a couple of snaps with the same offensive line that Garoppolo played behind. Lance made the most of his time in the pocket, escaping out to his left and delivering a 49-yard throw that would result in an 80-yard tuddy to WR Trent Sherfield. Lance was in command and showed why he has more upside than Garoppolo. At one point, his only incompletions were on drops.

Unfortunately for the rookie, however, the second-team offensive line could not hold up their end of the deal. After a couple of impressive series, Lance had a difficult time escaping pressure or making accurate throws under duress. 

I imagine this is exactly what Kyle Shanahan wanted him to go through to see how he would respond. It could have gone better but you could certainly make a case for Lance on his upside alone. If he can improve his under-pressure performance in following preseason games, it might be time to call the fight.

Why the QB situation may prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West

The 49ers QB spot is a question mark

By: Andy Davies

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. Only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (both 6) have more Super Bowl wins than the 49ers (5). The 49ers’ five Super Bowls all came between the years of 1981 and 1994. They have lost two since, in the 2012 and 2019 seasons. The quarterbacks that led the 49ers to the Lombardi Trophy were Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. Three of those five wins saw Montana as the starter and Young as the backup.

Young is seen by many as the best backup quarterback in history, considering the gold jacket that he earned despite many years as the backup to Montana. He would win a Super Bowl as the starter after the franchise moved on from Montana. Ever since Young decided to hang up his cleats, the 49ers have struggled to find his replacement. Have they found the guy in Trey Lance?

Perhaps, but here is why the quarterback situation involving Lance and current starter Jimmy Garoppolo could prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West during the 2021 season.

Struggles Since Young

Jeff Garcia was the man to come in for Young. During his five seasons in the Bay, he threw for 113 touchdowns and 56 interceptions as well as 16,408 passing yards. He had a 35-36 record as a starter for the 49ers in the regular season and a 1-2 record in the postseason, meaning he never hit the heights of his predecessor.

Alex Smith was the number one overall pick in 2005, shattering Aaron Rodgers’ dreams. However, he was a good quarterback, not a great quarterback. Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a game often called the ‘Blackout Bowl’. Kaepernick failed to live up to the standards he set that season.

He would be kicked out of the league for taking the knee in a protest against police brutality in 2016. He has not played a snap in the NFL since. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from the Patriots to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He gave hope to the organization after winning all five of the games he started in 2017. The fanbase had hope going into the 2018 season.

Many non-49ers fans had San Francisco down as their dark horse for the season. A season-ending injury to Garoppolo in Week 3 saw the starting role shared between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. However, the 49ers finished 4-12 as they went into 2019 with the second overall pick. Nick Bosa was selected and transformed the defense of San Francisco and Jimmy G had the best season of his career. He threw for 3,978 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Despite these stats, Garoppolo saw his production limited in the NFC Championship game as the coaching staff decided to use more of their running game. This led to many questions leading to the Super Bowl. The 49ers threw away a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter as they would end up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

Garoppolo was criticized heavily for an overthrown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that would have given San Francisco back the lead. His 2020 season saw a mixture of poor form and injury. During the 2021 offseason, the 49ers traded up with the Miami Dolphins to gain the number three overall pick. They took Lance with the pick, showcasing their intentions to eventually move off from Garoppolo. There is now talk of whether San Francisco and head coach Kyle Shanahan will start Lance in week one. The other scenarios discussed are either Lance coming in mid-season or sitting out the whole campaign as the backup to Garoppolo. The uncertainty will have a significant impact on the 49ers’ season.

The Strength of the NFC West

This is a problem that will affect all four teams in the best division in the NFL. There is a chance that all four teams can make the playoffs. Los Angeles has an exciting new quarterback in 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray that they would never dream of trading away. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ starting quarterback is largely unpopular by fans, due to a mixture of the overthrown pass in the Super Bowl, his poor 2020 campaign and his injury record.

San Francisco has the least trusted quarterback in the division. With the position being one of the most crucial in all sports, it does not bode well for a team when there is uncertainty in the position. Garoppolo may be benched at some point during the season for Lance. However, the 49ers would be putting a rookie that will still be learning the system into the toughest division in the NFL.

Learning From Mahomes, Jackson, Tua and Burrow

If San Francisco are to help Lance succeed, they will need to take some lessons from recent draft classes. Patrick Mahomes, widely seen as the best quarterback in the league, spent all but one game of his 2017 rookie season as a backup to Alex Smith. The Chiefs then traded Smith the following offseason and Mahomes has never looked back. In his first three full seasons as a starter in the NFL, he has reached two Super Bowls, winning one. He has also been crowned MVP and Super Bowl MVP and reached three successive AFC Championship games. All three have been at home. On the flip side, 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow started in week one of his rookie year. He wouldn’t last the season, only playing ten games before injury curtailed his first NFL campaign. He was impressive before his injury but there are no guarantees he will be the same player when he returns.

Lamar Jackson was a backup to Joe Flacco during his 2018 rookie year but won the starting role midseason. He has since gone on to win an MVP award and is the future of the franchise. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins brought Tua Tagovailoa in mid-season but he struggled in his rookie season. He is seen to already be on the hot seat, with many feeling the Dolphins rushed him in. These examples all show there are reasons for the 49ers to be hasty when it comes to choosing when to bring Lance into the starting role.

Lance Or Garoppolo In 2021?

The 49ers will have to decide soon who their starter will be in 2021. Considering Lance has only played one full season (2019), he is likely to start the season as the backup. He only threw for a combined total of 31 passing attempts, two touchdowns and 1 interception across the 2018 and 2020 seasons, albeit the latter campaign being disrupted by the pandemic. He is likely to be a work in progress but his 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 2019 mean that he is one for the future.

Garoppolo will likely start in week one but it was clear from the NFC Championship game that Shanahan doesn’t completely trust him.

Jimmy G is a capable quarterback but his health is a concern. Expect Garoppolo to remain as the starter provided the 49ers are winning games but for Lance to come in should Garoppolo either be injured or start the season poorly.

Should this happen, this will be the end of Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco. Depending on timing, he will then be traded either before the deadline or in the 2022 offseason.

Can The 49ers Returning Players Avoid A Repeat Of 2020?

This is key if the 49ers are to challenge for both the NFC West and the NFC. After earning the number one seed and reaching Super Bowl 54 during the 2019 campaign, San Francisco finished 6-10 in 2020 and bottom of the division. A ‘Super Bowl Hangover’ played its part but the main cause of such a decline was down to a colossal amount of injuries the team suffered. Along with the aforementioned Garoppolo, the 49ers also saw Bosa, Dee Ford, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel and Solomon Thomas miss large chunks of the 2020 season due to injury.

San Francisco had 33 players reported questionable and there were 186 occasions when the 49ers reported a player on injured reserve. They had the second-most injuries of any team in the NFL over the past twenty years. Should all these players come back, then this 49ers roster will be one of the best in the league. This will make life much easier for whoever the San Francisco starting quarterback is.

However, from the strength of the division to the uncertainty at quarterback, San Francisco will find it tough to win the NFC West.

Why Jimmy Garoppolo could start in Week 1

Will Jimmy G start for the 49ers offense?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Now entering his fifth season with the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo finds himself in a competition for the starting quarterback job for the first time since arriving in San Francisco. This is because the organization traded all the way up to the third overall pick in the NFL Draft this year to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. A move like this is only made out of necessity, and the extensive injury history of Garoppolo played a major factor in this decision. He has unfortunately only been able to complete a full season once in his seven year career.

The 49ers have a roster that is built to win now, as demonstrated by their 2019 season where they made it all the way to the Super Bowl before being defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs. The organization does not want to continue to gamble on the health of Garoppolo and run the risk of wasting another season while their championship window is still wide open. That’s exactly what happened in the 2020 season when Garoppolo was only able to play in six games and the 49ers finished their disappointing season in last place in their division despite being the defending NFC conference champions.

All of this was factored in and lead the 49ers to draft Trey Lance as the likely eventual replacement for Garoppolo. A player drafted this high is not just an insurance policy but a huge part of future plans. The real question is centered around when Lance will get his opportunity to start. There is an open competition in training camp right now, so either of the two quarterbacks could be the starter for week one of the regular season. Here is why Garoppolo will get one more chance to keep his job.

Developing the Rookie

While Lance is an extremely talented and athletic quarterback, he may need some time to develop into an NFL ready quarterback. He only started 17 games in his entire college career including only one game in 2020 because of the pandemic restrictions. His one complete season in 2019 was off the charts and what justified his high selection in the draft. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 2786 yards and 28 touchdowns with zero interceptions while also rushing for an additional 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Lance has a very high ceiling due to his raw talent as well as his situation but it’s still unclear if he is ready to play at the NFL level because of his overall inexperience. He is young, didn’t play a ton of games at the college level, and when he did play it was not against the highest quality of opponents. The best plan of action to maximize his potential may be to wait and let him develop first before starting.

Returning to Glory

Putting the Lance situation aside, the main reason why Garoppolo will get one more chance to be the starter is because of how much success he and the team had in the 2019 season when he was fully healthy. The 49ers won their division that year, won the NFC Conference championship game, and were minutes away from winning the Super Bowl if not for a spectacular come back lead by Patrick Mahomes. It’s hard to justify moving on from the quarterback that got you that far if he can find a way to stay healthy and productive. The former has always been the issue for Garoppolo because he has really been solid overall when he is actually on the field.

In that 2019 season, Garoppolo completed 69 percent of his passes for 3978 yards and 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He was good enough to lead the 49ers to the 4th ranked total offense at 381.1 yards per game and 2nd ranked scoring offense at 29.9 points per game. They also had the 2nd best total defense in the NFL that year at 281.1 yards allowed per game and the 2nd best rushing offense at 144.1 yards per game.

The 49ers are returning the large majority of their roster and coaching staff for the 2021 season so it’s very fair to believe that their defense and rushing attack will again be towards the very top of the NFL. If Garoppolo can repeat or improve on his 2019 production the 49ers will once again be in the conversation of Super Bowl contenders and that is why he will be the opening day starter. That being said, he will be on a short leash and will need to perform to keep Lance on the sidelines.

Projecting the floor and ceiling for Trey Lance

The 49ers rookie QB holds a lot of ability

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

The San Francisco 49ers made a big move in the NFL Draft this year when they traded all the way up to the third overall pick to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. They traded away three first round picks and a third rounder to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the rights to draft their potential quarterback of the future in Lance. He is an extremely dynamic talent with a skillset that fits the modern version of the NFL very well because of both his big arm as well as his rushing abilities.

College Career

In just one full season as a starting quarterback, Lance put up some ridiculous numbers at North Dakota State. In his freshman season he was the back up and only threw one pass, while his junior season was unfortunately limited to just one game because of Covid restrictions. It was his sophomore season that he can be really be judged on and he was absolutely spectacular. In 16 games that year he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2786 yards with 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Just as impressive as his his throwing stats were his contributions on the ground, carrying the ball 169 times for 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is a true dual threat quarterback who absolutely dominated his competition at the college level.

Projected Floor

The real floor for Lance this season would be if does not play, and instead just serves as the back up to Jimmy Garoppolo all year. This is a possibility because Garoppolo is likely going to be the week one starter so he would presumably keep the job for as long as he is healthy and playing well. He has had some success when he plays but unfortunately he just can’t seem to stay healthy, which is a big reason why the 49ers made such a big move to acquire a quarterback this offseason. Garoppolo has only been able to complete a full season once in his 7 year career and that was back in 2019. He did play pretty well that year, though not spectacular, completing 69 percent of his passes for 3978 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The big thing that Lance brings to the table that Garoppolo is missing is the run threat. Lance would add a whole new dimension to an already efficient and explosive offensive unit with his impressive athleticism. The arsenal of Lance paired with the solid weapons around him such as George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk make it pretty hard to imagine him having a low floor if he does in fact get his opportunity to start at some point this year. The 49ers have an excellent coaching staff too lead by the offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan so the success of Lance seems highly probable. It’s more a question of when rather than if he will succeed.

Projected Ceiling

Lance is not only a high floor player, as long he gets his chance to start of course, but his ceiling is sky high. The offensive scheme of Shanahan, by design, is extremely friendly to quarterbacks. The elite rushing attack opens up the field for the passing game beautifully and the built in reads of the system assists quarterbacks in being very efficient. The 2020 season was one plagued by injuries for the 49ers but back in 2019 they were one of the top offensive units in the entire NFL. They ranked 4th in total yards per game at 381.1, 13th in passing at 237 yards per game, 2nd in rushing at 144.1 yards per games, and 2nd in scoring at 29.9 points per game.

From a talent perspective alone, Lance is clearly an upgrade from Garoppolo so if he develops to his true potential than his expectations are massively high. Pretty much all of the key offensive pieces from 2019 are still on the team so Lance has a real chance to bring an already elite unit to a new level. Adding his rushing ability to the mix, which will be fun to watch with the creativity of Shanahan, is a nightmare for opposing defenses who already struggled to slow down this offense with a stationary quarterback. The most similar comparison for Lance would be a bigger and stronger version of Kyler Murray. That’s a dangerous concept to add to an already stacked offense.

All things considered including the talent, weapons, scheme, and coaching, it’s hard to imagine any way that Lance turns out to be a bust with the 49ers. The only thing that is a big question mark is the when factor. It is still completely unknown when he is going to get his opportunity at the starting quarterback role. It could be at some point this season or it might not be until the beginning of the 2022 season. When that time does come, Lance has an excellent shot to become a top tier quarterback in the NFL very quickly.

3 biggest question marks for the 49ers offense

Will Trent Williams stay healthy?

The San Francisco 49ers offense was a shell of it’s ritual Top 5 self in 2020. The 49ers offense was ranked fourth in the league in 2019 and then fell back to 15th in 2020. Headed into the 2021 season, expectations loom for Kyle Shanahan to reignite the offense into a lethal machine. 

What exactly will be the hurdles for Kyle Shanahn to lift off the 49ers offense? Let’s dive into the three biggest questions for Shanny’s west coast offense. 

  1. How ready will Trey Lance be?

The biggest question on the offense is unequivocally the QB spot. The 49ers drafted Trey Lance third overall with expectations that he will be a future All Pro. Lance carries sky high potential, but can he hit the ground running in 2020? 

If Lance is in sync with the offense and even slightly more efficient than Jimmy G, I believe it’s a no-brainer that Lance starts in the fierce NFC West. We witnessed Justin Herbert get thrown under the fire early and walk out with the offensive rookie of the year award. Lance has similar ability to Herbert, but he will unveil more victories due to the fact that he has a better team. 

  1. How much will Trey Sermon be involved

I believe it’s vital that rookie RB Trey Sermon becomes a weapon early in the season. All too often fans view a year one RB blossom later in the season. Jonathan Taylor and D’Andre Swift didn’t become a true impact player until several weeks into the 2020 campaign. It will be especially beneficial if Lance and Sermon develop a strong trust in each other before the most important matchups later in the season arrive.

Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman are no longer in the building. Sermon will need to a productive piece in the RB group, but he truly will need to be special if they want to return to winning the NFC West. 

  1. The health of Trent Williams

The health of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle is very important. Although, all star weapons are returning healthy and coming off unusual injuries. The “star player with repeated injuries” is none other than the All Pro LT Trent Williams.

The last time that Williams logged more than 14 games was all the way in 2014. If Williams missed three to four games, it could spell disaster for the potential starting rookie QB. Williams’ health is even more valuable with the divisional opponents beefing up their pass rushing units.

It’s clear Aaron Donald rests in Los Angeles, but now the 49ers have to prepare for J.J. Watt and a healthy Chandler Jones in Arizona. If the 49ers also want to win games against the likes of the Buccaneers and Saints pass rush in the postseason, they will need their prominent LT on the field. 

Trey Lance vs Jimmy Garoppolo: Who will win the 49ers QB job?

Will Lance win the 49ers QB competition?

By: Brady Akins

April 29, 2021. The first round of the most recent iteration of the NFL Draft, and the night that the San Francisco 49ers made the franchise-altering decision to select Trey Lance, the 21-year-old quarterback out of North Dakota State, third overall.

This, when just four seasons prior, the 49ers made what was seen at the time as another high-stakes quarterback acquisition, when San Francisco managed to lure the perceived heir apparent to the impossible throne of Tom Brady in Jimmy Garoppolo to the Bay Area. 

And in the four seasons that followed, the 49ers have received a mixed bag from the quarterback they gave up a second-round pick to add to the roster. From being a wealth of untapped potential with an unbeaten record in 2017 to an injury-prone player with a limited skillset under center in 2020 and everywhere in between.

Even with an NFC Championship victory and a near Super Bowl victory under the belt of Jimmy G, one franchise-altering decision has led to another. And with OTA’s now well underway league-wide, Garoppolo has come face-to-face with the man set to become the future of the San Francisco offense in Lance. 

It’s a football tale as old as football time. One young, unproven but talented hotshot quarterback steps into the fray to take over for an established starter. When that switch happens, however, always varies. It took three years for the reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers to get the starting nod in Green Bay over Brett Favre, one year for another MVP Patrick Mahomes to take over for Alex Smith in Kansas City, and just a handful of games for yet another MVP in Lamar Jackson to take over in Baltimore for Joe Flacco. But it always happens. The new guy will always get a shot, one way or another.

So the question of Garoppolo’s future in San Francisco is settled. Sooner or later, he will be out and Lance will be in. And that, folks, is the ecosystem of the NFL. 

But just because Garoppolo’s long-term fate was sealed with that April 29 decision to draft Lance, nothing has been determined for the immediate present of the 49er’s quarterback job. Rather, Garoppolo has entered a battle to be San Francisco’s Week One starter for the 49ers. A battle of two contenders, where each party has a compelling case.

But between Lance and Garoppolo, who deserves it more?

Who is Jimmy Garoppolo?

No longer is Garoppolo the exciting unknown quantity he once was. He’s not the undefeated starter on pace to be the next Tom Brady anymore. His weaknesses have been documented and used against him, as have his strengths.

The 49ers, along with the rest of the football world, know exactly what they’re getting when Jimmy Garoppolo takes the field, for better and for worse. They’re getting a guy who is accurate, can deliver the ball well and quickly in short to intermediate areas on the field. They’re also getting a guy who has struggled in the past with injuries, has shown a penchant for turning the ball over, and is limited as an athlete.

If you need to win a game, you can count on Garoppolo, just don’t expect it to be pretty. Through seven years in the league, Garoppolo has started in 32 games– all but two of which have come in a 49ers uniform. In that time, he’s gone 24-8.

It’s difficult to argue with a win rate that high. In fact, among active quarterbacks with 10 or more starts, Garoppolo ranks fourth overall in winning percentage– behind three former MVPs in Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson. 

But the knock against Garoppolo as a player that has seen great success in his time under center, is that, more often than you would hope from a franchise quarterback,  his teams have succeeded in spite of his play rather than because of it. 

Take the 2019 season for example, far and away Garoppolo’s most successful year– by more than a few metrics as well. Not only did he experience career highs in touchdowns, passing yards and completion percentage, but he did so while being able to stay on the field, starting all 16 games for the first time in his career. 2019 still remains as the only time Garoppolo has started more than six games in a season.

With that ability to stay healthy came team success. The 49ers won the NFC for the first time since 2012, won 13 games for the first time since 1997, and all was well in the world. Sure, maybe their quarterback finished with one of the 10 highest interception percentages despite finishing 19th in pass attempts, but it didn’t really matter. San Francisco had the coaching to elevate the weaknesses on the depth chart, and the defensive talent to compensate for whatever deficiencies Garoppolo was bringing to the table.

But team success at that level could have been an anomaly. San Francisco, despite not having a big-name talent at running back, finished with the second-most volume heavy rushing attack in 2019, and the eighth-most efficient, all while having a defense that was top ten in points allowed, yards allowed, takeaways and sacks.

With a smothering defense and role players performing above expectation, everything in San Francisco was perfect. What came of it, however, was a step short of the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl victory. Arguably, the one element missing from their potential storybook season was elite quarterback play.

Not that Garoppolo played poorly in 2019– he didn’t. As he’s been his whole career, Garoppolo proved to be an accurate passer, but a poor decision-maker. A winner, but more of a game manager in the passing game– which was on full display in the team’s NFC Championship victory, one where Garoppolo threw just eight passes in a 37-20 win. 

But he’s still a player that, with the right circumstances, can get a team right on the doorstep of the promised land. The 49ers have lost some talent on defense since that 2019 run, including defensive coordinator Robert Salah in this past offseason. But recent additions on the opposite side of the ball, ones like wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, give San Francisco’s offensive coaching staff more weapons to play with.

Last season was a down year, but one plagued by injuries to key players. With those contributors returning, San Francisco could have the talent to be one of the league’s better teams. If that is the case, they might not need a high-risk, high-reward quarterback more than one who can quietly get the job done.

Who is Trey Lance

If Jimmy Garoppolo is the living, breathing definition of a known quantity– Trey Lance is the exact opposite. If Jimmy Garoppolo is high floor/low ceiling, Trey Lance is a rollercoaster. If Jimmy Garoppolo is the breakfast food equivalent to plain yogurt, Trey Lance is somewhere in the range of the special at a greasy spoon diner that you’ve never heard of but your friend swears by.

Point being– we know Jimmy G. He’s solid. Decent. Able to win and look solid when he does it, but that’s about it. Lance is, well, we don’t really know. He could very well be the best parts of Lamar Jackson with his immense scrambling ability and Tom Brady with his high football IQ and ability to keep the ball safe. Or, he could be a bust. A lot of raw talent but without the ability to put it all together.

And let’s not get it twisted– Trey Lance is talented. One look at the stat sheet from his final full season of college football will tell you as much. 28 passing touchdowns, 67% completion percentage, and zero, ZERO, interceptions. And that’s just through the air. Lance added another 14 touchdowns on the ground, putting up 1,100 rushing yards on 169 attempts.

But even with the immaculate stat sheets– Lance comes with a laundry list of concerns as a player. One of which being, that year of insane production in college was his only year of production in college. In 2018, Lance attempted just one pass in the role of backup. In 2019, he blew up. In 2020– his team played just one game, in what boiled down to essentially a showcase for his NFL potential, and it didn’t go so well.

The one and only interception of Lance’s college career came in North Dakota State’s one 2020 game against Central Arkansas. Granted, Lance made up for the missed opportunity with some truly special production on the ground with 166 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns, but against an FCS opponent that isn’t necessarily on the level that Lance will face in the NFL, he struggled mightily as a passer, even beyond the interception.

On 30 passing attempts, Lance completed just 15 for just 149 yards. Lance did enough in 2019 to show that he at least has the potential to be an accurate passer. The sample size is small, however, and Lance did little to put any concerns about his ability to throw the football accurately to rest.

But the player that Lance could be in the NFL is enough to justify drafting him in the first round, even as high as third overall. Particularly when you have a coach on the sidelines in Kyle Shanahan who has made a living on finding the ways to make the most out of his players.

In 2016, one year before Shanahan’s promotion to head coach of the 49ers, he served the role of offensive coordinator in Atlanta, where he helped Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan win league MVP and hit career highs in, well, everything. His 38 touchdown passes were a career-high, his 4,944 yards were a career-high, his seven interceptions were a career-low, and the list went on. Completion percentage, yards per attempt, passer rating and quarterback rating, all as high as they’ve ever been under the watchful eye of Shanahan.

Similarly, Shanahan has helped his cast of running backs reach new heights in San Francisco. Raheem Mostert was an NFL journeyman before joining the 49ers, with quick stops in Cleveland, Miami, Baltimore and Chicago that all resulted in not a single carry. With San Francisco, Mostert has blossomed to produce three seasons of efficient carrying, without a season below five yards per carry.

Shanahan might be able to work his magic once more with Lance. But concerns still remain. Lance is an inexperienced player from an FCS school. A perfect 2019 season? Sure. All the potential in the world? No question. Lance has the tools to be one of the all-time greats. But can he do it in year one?

Lance vs Garoppolo: The Final Verdict

The one and only time that Jimmy Garoppolo started 16 games in a season– he won 13 of them. 

Yes, he had the help of a transcendent defense. Yes, looking at his numbers in a box score isn’t as exciting as it would be for a player like Aaron Rodgers. And, yes, in the future, Trey Lance can and likely will be a better player than Garoppolo.

But Lance doesn’t need to be that player immediately.  Garoppolo isn’t going to make highlights like a rookie Lance would, but he can be exactly what the 49ers need in the short term. A player who can distribute the ball with ease to talented pass catchers like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. A player who can run Shanahan’s offense well enough to win, with years of familiarity with the scheme.

Most of all, he can be a smart guiding hand for the 49ers quarterback of the future. A veteran to show Lance the ropes, the same way that Alex Smith taught Mahomes before him. The future lives with Trey Lance, but the present of the 49ers franchise can still be Jimmy Garoppolo.

Does Trey Lance have the best rookie situation?

Does rookie Trey Lance have the best situation?

By: Andy Martinez

The San Francisco 49ers shocked the world on Thursday night when the team decided to take quarterback Trey Lance with the 3rd overall pick in this year’s draft. 

While there was talk of possibly taking Mac Jones at No. 3, it was ultimately Trey Lance whose name was called at the podium. In fact, according to Kyle Shanahan, Lance was the player they were targeting all along. 

“When we made the trade, we knew exactly where we were going while we were doing it… I knew how we felt about Trey the whole time, and to watch everyone just assume it was the ‘other guy’ [Mac Jones], we weren’t going to work to correct that” – Kyle Shanahan per 49ers PR

Lance, who only spent one season as a starter for the North Dakota Bison, threw for over 2,768 yards, 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. His arm talent, mobility, and mental capacity to lead a team checked all the boxes for the 49ers. However, it was his potential at the next level that inspired the team to take a chance on him at No. 3, making him only the third quarterback in 49ers history to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

However, even drafted as high as he was, Lance is still the most raw and inexperienced quarterback in his draft class. How exactly does being drafted by the 49ers put him in the best situation out of his counterparts this year’s class? 

For starters, Lance may have landed in a pile of gold (no pun intended). Far too often, we see quarterback prospects flop at the next level for a number of a different reasons. One of the biggest is the lack of a strong supporting cast, on and off the field. For reference, just look at Sam Darnold’s time with the New York Jets. Fortunately for Lance, that does not appear to be the case. 

 The 49ers are a loaded team with talent primed to win right now. Lance will have the luxury of developing as an NFL quarterback behind a bolstered offensive line that includes the likes of Pro-bowlers Trent Richardson and Alex Mack clearing the way for a very potent running game. He’ll also have some great receiving weapons in Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and of course All-Pro tight end, George Kittle.

Landing Spots for All 5 of the Top QB Prospects

Who will Lawrence, Wilson, Fields, Lance and Jones play for in 2021?

by Michael Obermuller

The lead-up to the NFL Draft is a sports process like no other. The speculation, the intrigue, the misinformation and strategy used by different franchises and general managers. Considering the diverse crop of quarterback talent available in 2021, this offseason has been as wild as ever. I mean, just look at this curveball from Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer a few days before draft night.

Trevor Lawrence has been the consensus number one pick for what feels like years, and Jags owner Shad Khan has seemed pretty intent on marketing the rebirth of the franchise around the Clemson star, so why then is Meyer still choosing between three players at No. 1 overall?

It could just be due diligence from a first year NFL head coach, or maybe Lawrence to Jacksonville isn’t as much of a lock as most people thought. After all, there is certainly no reason to play mind-games with opposing GM’s when you’re the one picking first. Yet here we are left with this mysterious quote.

Don’t you worry though, I’ve seen through all the GM mumbo jumbo of the past few months and I’m confident in saying that I have figured out where each quarterback will end up — I think. Either way, I’ll give it a whirl, starting with the aforementioned Jaguars.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (No. 1)

I know, after all that in the introduction, I’m still predicting T-Law to DUVAL? That’s right, because if Meyer wants to pull off the most shocking move in recent draft memory, he can do it without my blessing. There are a couple important things to note here though. One, Meyer is not considering Mac Jones or Trey Lance in the top spot. Could this have an influence on other franchises behind him? Urban was a premier college recruiter for a long time after all. Or perhaps he has yet to gain the respect of his fellow NFL peers, and his opinion means very little to them. Two, the former Ohio State HC and program director is likely passing on his former QB, Justin Fields. Meyer actually ranked the quarterbacks in a preseason show in June of 2020, with Lawrence first in his ranks and Fields second. His reasoning at the time was this;

[Lawrence] played one more year. That was it. The one thing I’ll say about Justin Fields because I’m very close to the situation, any concerns about him being a throwing quarterback are gone now. He’s developed, he’s outstanding.

– Urban Meyer, FOX College Football

The Jags could certainly throw a wrench in the entire draft by taking either Zach Wilson or Fields, which would probably send Lawrence to New York at No. 2, but it’s highly unlikely and I’m not buying it. Size, accuracy, speed, raw ability, intelligence, drive — Lawrence is the consensus number one for a reason. I’m not saying that he’s guaranteed to be the most successful NFL product, he’s not, but he is the safe bet for Jacksonville. For the sake of all our sanities, let’s move on and assume this sticks.

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson (No. 2)

GM Joe Douglas and the New York Jets have traded 2018 first round pick Sam Darnold, so yes they are 100 percent taking a quarterback at two (for those who haven’t been paying attention). They have been linked to the BYU Cougars signal-caller more and more since Week 17, and I personally don’t see this changing on Thursday night. Wilson checks all the boxes for the Jets. He is an accurate passer and a competitive winner (albeit against lesser competition), known for his on-the-fly decision-making and pocket presence as well as an arm that throws just as far on the move as it does standing upright. Wilson has drawn recent comparisons to Patrick Mahomes for some of these intangible traits, but there’s a contingent of fans that still have doubts that scouts and GM’s are once again sleeping on in-your-face talent.

If Fields can translate his OSU skillset to the pros, it wouldn’t be the first time that the best and brightest NFL minds in the game are totally wrong. I mean he did run a 4.44 forty with a 70.2 completion percentage in 2020. For the record, as you’ll see throughout this article, Fields is my personal QB1 in this class, but that doesn’t mean he appeals to the teams picking in the top three.

3. San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones (No. 3)

Is the infamous “smokescreen tactic” being utilized by Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch and the San Francisco 49ers? It’s quite possible, in fact Joe Douglas and the Jets could be using it too for all we know. If Fields truly is the quarterback with the most upside potential, it would make sense that every GM behind the Jaguars is trying to keep Meyer off their trail by talking up Wilson, Jones and Lance. At the same time, it seems even more likely that the NFL brass are once again scared off by an Ohio State product who has been labeled as a runner that struggles with his progressional reads. If Lawrence and Wilson do indeed go one-two, Fields should be the pick at three in my opinion, but he may not be according to reports.

There’s something fishy about this developing story, because Jones and Lance couldn’t be more different as prospects. I can’t deny that Mac Jones makes sense as Shanahan’s favorite option. The Niners HC has highlighted his on-field and NFL-ready intelligence, citing that the Alabama product is the win-now choice for a team that was in the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Jones is also the most similar to the quarterbacks that have flourished in Shanahan’s system in the past (Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo). Lance on the other hand makes me scratch my head. He’s from a small program that did not play against NFL-type talent, he’s not game-ready by most estimations, and he’s athletic rather than accurate or experienced. The fact that San Francisco is torn between these two, but not interested in the player that is pretty much the combination of both (Fields) is odd to say the least. For these reasons, I do think there’s a chance that the 49ers are under-selling Fields on purpose, but I’ll begrudgingly stick with Jones here anyway because of how well he fits the Shanahan mold.

4. TRADE — Denver Broncos: Trey Lance (No. 4)

Some have the Atlanta Falcons taking Lance at four, but in the end I think Arthur Smith’s new offense stands pat with the reliability of Matty Ice for a couple more seasons and trades down to reconstruct this roster from the inside out. That process may not start with an inexperienced QB, but it could begin with a haul of present and future draft picks. The next question is their trade partner, and although it has not been mentioned as much as a New England or Washington Football Team, the Denver Broncos are my under-the-radar candidate to make the jump from ninth to fourth. George Paton is taking over as GM for the Broncos, and he may try and make a splash in his first NFL Draft having the final say.

Everything about Paton’s thinking for his first draft screams Lance to me. It’s unexpected, out-of-the-box, and hopefully solves the problem that John Elway failed at for years in the same position — finding a franchise quarterback. Drew Lock has yet to display any qualities that separate him from the rest of the league, so I expect Paton to jump at the opportunity to bring in someone that can compete not only with Lock, but long-term with division rivals like Mahomes and Justin Herbert. Of course, the Broncos could also go with Fields here, but I’m sticking with my theme that this inexplicable stigma drops my QB1 down to QB5. I also like the fit for Lance in Denver. He played at North Dakota State, a similar climate, and his build and physicality as a runner bear some resemblance to Elway himself. Although I’m sure Broncos fans would also take his Josh Allen comp.

5. Detroit Lions: Justin Fields (No. 7)

So where oh where will Mr. Fields land? No he won’t fall out of the top 10, and I don’t expect the Cincinnati Bengals or Miami Dolphins to trade down either when they can grab the players they covet most (Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase by all reports) at five and six. That leaves the Detroit Lions, who could choose to trade down with the Patriots or the highest bidder, but honestly why would they? The Lions roster moves have signaled a total overhaul rebuild under the new regime of Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes, and they already have enough future draft capital from the Matthew Stafford trade where they don’t need more first round picks. They need a franchise quarterback. The wrinkle that you may point out is that they also received back Jared Goff and his contract in that same deal. Let’s be honest though, Goff is a placeholder in Detroit at best. At worst, he’s a cap casualty after 2022 (when cutting him would only cost $10 million). So why not accelerate the process if Justin Fields falls into your lap?

A player with as much potential as Fields could be a dream for Holmes at No. 7 in his first NFL Draft, and the young QB could even learn under Goff as a rookie before jumpining into the NFL head-first. He can truly do it all; whether it’s his accuracy as a passer or his agility as a runner, his escapability in the pocket or strong arm on the run, his competitiveness as an premier athlete or his confidence in primetime games. I’m not sure why every team is insistent on looking past Fields, and maybe it all is a smokescreen and he goes top three, but it just feels like the NFL scouts and decision-makers are talking themselves into passing on another superstar.

NFL Draft: Teams on the QB bubble

Will Bill Belichick draft a QB?

By: Dylan Streibig

With the NFL draft about a week away, some things are starting to take shape. As always, the quarterback position is a source of great intrigue.  It is a foregone conclusion that the first three picks will be quarterbacks.

Then, you have three other obvious teams with some degree of a quarterback need. New England, Washington, and Denver. However, there are not that many elite quarterback prospects to go around. Also, these teams may have to move up the draft board if they want to dip into the front end of this quarterback class. Here is a closer look at all three situations.

New England and Washington

These teams are in a good spot. While the need is there, both organizations can safely ride the status quo at quarterback for another year if they choose.

When you are Bill Belichick, the hot seat doesn’t exist. His team was reasonably competitive and posted a 7-9 record with Cam Newton and his eight touchdown passes as its primary quarterback a year ago. The Patriots had a slew of players opt out because of the pandemic last year. Much of that talent will return for 2021.

New England also had an unusually active free agency period headlined by Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith They both averaged over ten yards per catch last year. Newton averaged only about seven yards per attempt. The Patriots offense has always lived and died with production from the tight end spot. Rob Gronkowski is a future Hall of Famer because of it. The offense had no pass catchers that worried defenses last year. It does now.

There is no reason the Patriots should not be back in playoff contention next year. If the front office really believes that their quarterback of the future is in this draft, they can take him, even if it is a day two prospect, but they certainly don’t have to.

Washington is in a similar situation. Ron Rivera is under no pressure of losing his job after winning the division last year using three different quarterbacks in the regular season. Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Kyle Allen threw for an average of 152 yards per game in his four starts. A team with this kind of quarterback play winning its division speaks to how well off the rest of the roster is.

As long as the pass rush remains fierce, it isn’t hard to imagine a free agent signing Ryan Fitzpatrick guiding this team to another division title. So, Washington can also put off addressing their long-term future at quarterback for another year if they want. Taking a quarterback in the mid-rounds this year is also an option. Regardless, Washington isn’t desperate for a quarterback right now.

Denver

The Broncos do not have the luxury of time. George Paton is entering his first season as general manager. He will be in Denver for the foreseeable future no matter how the 2021 season plays out.

The same cannot be said for Vic Fangio who comes in to his third season as head coach with a 12-20 record. He has to win now. Thus, the same can be said for pretty much the entire coaching staff.

There are still some believers in the talent of current quarterback Drew Lock. He only has 18 starts under his belt. Still, last year was ugly. 15 interceptions, three lost fumbles, and a 57.3 completion percentage all look even uglier when you consider Lock missed almost 3 full games during last year’s 5-11 campaign.

Lock did not have a traditional offseason last year, but that can be said for every player in the league. Joe Burrow entered the league as a rookie for an organization that hasn’t won a playoff game in about three decades. The offense of line was so bad it eventually left Burrow with a season-ending injury. Burrow still posted a passer rating close to 90. Lock didn’t have to deal with anything close to what Burrow did. Lock’s passer rating was in the mid-70s last year.

Who knows? Lock may still have a great career ahead. However, the coaching staff in Denver doesn’t have time to bet their jobs on him. He accounted for 18 turnovers in a little more than 13 games last year. That is a team killer. An ultra-athletic guy like Justin Fields is intriguing no matter where he lands. He could work in Denver.

Mac Jones takes care of the ball and could be excellent distributing to weapons like Noah Fant, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Melvin Gordon, K.J, Hamler, and Tim Patrick in Denver’s offense.

Trey Lance did not play much college football and is the complete unknown of this quarterback class. Even so, taking a chance on his raw talent is less of a risk for Denver than riding with Lock for another year. Despite rumored efforts, Denver was unable to land a solid veteran quarterback to fix the position. So, they must do whatever it takes to land a top prospect in the draft.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑