With a few months to go before training camp opens ahead of the 2022 National Football League season, there still hasn’t been any news or movement on the San Francisco 49ers‘ brewing quarterback controversy.
Jimmy Garoppolo, the incumbent starter, is still a member of the team and the presumed starter, while Trey Lance, who will be entering his second season, will have to continue to stand and watch for now.
Fans and the media seem split on whether it would be best for San Francisco to keep Garoppolo for another year and ease Lance into the pro game, or to move on from Garoppolo and see if Lance is worthy of the hype.
But if Garoppolo is still wearing the red and gold this summer, there may be another option for the team, as things may simply ultimately play out in such a fashion.
It is a scenario that the organization went through a long time ago.
The Original QB Controversy
In the 1980s, Joe Montana was the best signal-caller in the game, and the 49ers were the NFL’s reigning dynasty.
They won two Super Bowls by mid-decade, and after their second world championship, it was clear they were just getting started after drafting Jerry Rice.
But in Week 1 of the 1986 campaign, Montana suffered a back injury that required surgery, and the injury was so severe that some thought he would have to retire.
He returned later that season, but knowing they needed an insurance policy, the 49ers traded for QB Steve Young, who to that point had been an undeveloped signal-caller for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Express of the defunct United States Football League (USFL).
In 1987, with Montana out for a few games, Young filled in and played very well, and it started to look like maybe he could be Montana’s heir apparent.
It caused the NFL’s first quarterback controversy, but Montana remained with the team and was still its starter.
He was still himself for the next few years, leading the Niners to two more Super Bowl titles, but he missed the entire 1991 season and almost all of 1992 with an elbow injury.
Young was impressive during that span, and sensing what would be an unsustainable situation, Montana asked to be traded before the 1993 season, which he was.
Young would then lead San Fran to yet another world championship in 1994, proving that he was much more than Montana’s apprentice.
— NFL (@NFL) January 29, 2022
Just Wait Until Garoppolo Gets Hurt Again
Garoppolo is an above-average QB who has led the 49ers to two of the last three NFC Championship Games, plus a Super Bowl appearance, but he has reached his ceiling, and he is clearly injury prone.
There is a realistic chance that he will miss significant time this coming season just based on his history, and if that happens, Lance will have to fill in and get things done.
He started two contests in 2021, and although he looked shaky in his first game under center, he did considerably better in Week 17 versus the Houston Texans, going 16-of-23 for 249 yards and two touchdowns.
Trey Lance already cooked Houston lmao 1-0 vs your boy pic.twitter.com/G8Jd62mM6H
— Val Kilmer (@TheSuplexSource) April 8, 2022
Instead of trading Garoppolo for the sake of trading him, perhaps at below market value, maybe the best option for the 49ers is to simply let fate dictate where to go with the QB position.
Perhaps history will repeat itself yet again.