After taking Trey Lance third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, San Francisco 49ers fans have been clamoring for him to be the starting quarterback.
The 49ers traded two future first-round picks to move up from pick No. 12 to No. 3 to select Lance.
He has shined throughout practice and made a spectacular 80-yard touchdown pass in San Francisco’s Week 1 preseason game.
TREY LANCE WITH AN 80-YARD STRIKE 😤
— ESPN (@espn) August 15, 2021
Lance is undoubtedly the 49ers’ quarterback of the future.
However, the only thing standing between him and the starting role is Jimmy Garoppolo.
After appearing in just six games last season, Garoppolo is back healthy and back as the starter in San Francisco.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan has insisted as such throughout the offseason.
The 49ers faithful is going to have to wait a little longer for Lance to take the reins.
But Garoppolo starting for San Fran certainly isn’t the worst outcome for the team.
Garoppolo is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $137.5 million contract.
While his dead cap is just $2.8 million, Garoppolo’s total cap number is just over $26 million.
Entering the 2021 season, the 49ers quarterback is the 12th-highest paid in the NFL.
For San Francisco, Garoppolo carries the second-highest cap hit on the team, behind just offensive tackle Trent Williams.
Overall, Garoppolo’s contract makes it unlikely that he would be traded or released this season.
The franchise has too much investment in him.
And while the team has also invested in their future with Lance, they are paying Garoppolo too much money for him to just sit on the bench.
While Lance has the play-making upside, Garoppolo has had flashes of brilliance throughout his NFL career.
— NFL (@NFL) October 19, 2020
This was none the more evident than in 2019, when he led the 49ers to a 13-3 win and a trip to the Super Bowl.
That season, Garoppolo completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3.798 yards and a 27/13 TD/INT ratio.
It’s important to note that the 2019 season was the only time in his seven-year career that Garoppolo has appeared in all 16 games.
He will have to stay on the field to remain atop San Francisco’s depth chart.
It wasn’t long ago that this team was competing for a championship.
When they were, Garoppolo proved he had what it took to help lead the team offensively.
If all the returning players, including Garoppolo himself, live up to potential, the 49ers have a chance to surprise many fans and make another deep run in the postseason.
Lance’s 80-yard bomb sure was impressive, but overall, the 49ers’ Week 1 preseason 19-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was a bit of a so-so game for the rookie quarterback.
He completed five-of-14 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Take away that 80-yard pass and Lance went four-of-13 for 48 yards.
After the contest, Shanahan said that Lance had, “some good and some bad,” moments:
“There was some good and some bad. By no means was it perfect,” Shanahan said. “There were a couple of spots that you’d like him to go to different places. Sometimes, a couple of balls that sailed on him that I think he’d like to have back. But he also came out pretty good too, making the right plays, getting in the right spots. We had a couple of drops there especially on a third down that he could have kept the drive going if we had caught it. But it was a good first day. I didn’t want it to go perfect for him. I’d like some things that he could learn from. And there will be a lot of things that we can go over tomorrow.”
Lance certainly has potential, but his inexperience is one of the biggest negatives against him right now.
At North Dakota State, Lance had just one year as the starting quarterback, appearing in 16 games in 2019.
His numbers were pretty as he threw for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns to no interceptions while rushing for an additional 1,100 yards and 14 scores.
But there is a big jump from the Missouri Valley Conference to the NFL.
It’s clear that Lance is going to be the future of this franchise.
But for now, the 49ers are better suited to let Lance learn behind Garoppolo before taking on the starting role.