With about two months to go before they start training camp, the San Francisco 49ers haven’t found a solution to their brewing quarterback controversy.
Incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the roster, and coach Kyle Shanahan has been seemingly non-committal on who will start under center in Week 1 of the 2022 season.
Garoppolo recently had shoulder surgery, and he is expected to be able to participate in football activities again by early summer.
The thinking now around the NFL is that once he is cleared for full activity, the 49ers will once again look to trade him.
Although Trey Lance showed some flashes of promise in his rookie season, it is hard to get a true read on who or what he will be once he becomes a full-time starter.
If San Francisco does end up trading Garoppolo before the start of the season, could it live to regret that decision?
Is Trey Lance Able To Live Up To The Hype?
Reportedly, the Niners have been high on Lance, and internally the team has held high hopes for him while being impressed with the strides he made during his rookie season.
However, in recent days, a tweet from an NFL insider has caused concern for members of 49ers faithful.
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) May 5, 2022
Lombardo isn’t the only journalist to say something of the sort about Lance, as another insider, Adam Schefter, commented that “Lance was probably further behind than people realized” during his rookie season and is “greener than people realize” coming off San Francisco’s playoff run.
Is Jimmy Garoppolo a lock to be traded this offseason? @AdamSchefter says not so fast…
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) February 23, 2022
Apparently, the concerns may be real.
Lombardo went on a Bay Area radio station, 95.7 The Game, to elaborate on what he meant in his tweet:
“This all stems from a conversation that I had with an executive who’s pretty tight with people within the 49ers organization,” Lombardo explained. “Then following up with a couple of members of the coaching staff. The feeling around San Francisco, dating back to last summer during training camp, was a little bit of disappointment over the Trey Lance that arrived in training camp versus what they saw on film at North Dakota State from an arm-strength standpoint, from a deep-ball accuracy standpoint.
“And then you look at when he got into games this season. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Now, I know he had the injury. I know that [he was] a rookie, and it certainly takes time for NFL quarterbacks to develop, but the 49ers gave up a lot to get Trey Lance.”
The FanSided reporter did clarify that these concerns came about this past season and that QBs often do take a big step forward in their second seasons.
Not only did Lance not get a ton of snaps in 2021, but he also missed an entire season of college football due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In all, he played just 19 games for North Dakota State University, which amounts to less than two seasons worth of NCAA ball.
If he becomes the full-time starter this fall, he and the 49ers will inevitably have to go through some growing pains, as all young signal-callers do.
It’s A Complicated Decision
There are arguments to be made for keeping Garoppolo, as well as trading or even releasing him.
Keeping him around for another year, while figuring out a way to give Lance enough reps in non-garbage time, could act as a cushion for whatever growing pains Lance may go through.
Samuel reportedly wants to be paid top-dollar by wide receiver standards, even though he was used as a running back for a decent chunk of the season.
If the Niners were to trade or release Garoppolo, it could clear the requisite salary cap space needed to pay Samuel at market value and keep him in the Bay for years to come.