With weeks to go before training camp, there is still no definitive word on who will be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers this season.
Incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the roster despite rumors the team would trade him or perhaps even release him from his contract.
In addition, the shoulder he injured months ago appears to be healing well, and he could start throwing and getting ready for the 2022 campaign soon.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo remains on schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery and timetable for throwing, per source. The expectation has been Garoppolo will throw over next few weeks (early July, per Kyle Shanahan) and that plan is still in place.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 25, 2022
But sooner or later, Trey Lance, the third overall pick in last year’s NFL draft, will have to get on the field for some snaps during actual games, if not become the starter.
After all, the 49ers traded four draft picks, three of them first-rounders, to acquire the pick that became Lance.
San Francisco has therefore heavily invested in Lance being their future, and their actions moving forward need to be aligned accordingly.
Lance Has Reportedly Looked Good In Workouts
Yes, not a whole lot can be gleaned from how young players perform in OTAs or minicamp at this time of year.
But it can be a sign of what lies ahead for someone such as Lance.
According to some reports, he has done well in workouts lately, and more and more people around the Niners organization are getting their hopes up about him.
.@89JonesNTAF thinks the future is bright for Trey Lance
"I think he's going to be in that category, years down the line, talking about him like we talk about Patrick Mahomes & Aaron Rodgers" pic.twitter.com/ozk7viJ0vW
— NFL Total Access (@NFLTotalAccess) June 17, 2022
DeMeco Ryans, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, also likes what he’s seen from Lance.
#49ers’ DC DeMeco Ryans on Trey Lance:
“He’s putting the ball on the money every time [Trey] throws. The accuracy is there, the deep ball is there. I’m excited for Trey [Lance] and what he can do. He’s setting himself up to have a real nice season."
— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) June 8, 2022
Lance didn’t play much as a rookie, but when he did, he showed glimpses of his potential.
While there are questions about how good he will be in the pocket and when pressured or hit, or can move the chains with his feet, he seems to have the potential to be a better deep-ball threat than Garoppolo.
Garoppolo may be an above-average QB, but he has been pretty bad when going deep.
Balls thrown 30+ yards down field since 2014:
Jimmy G: 5-of-30 for 264 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs.
16.7% C% is worst and 8.8 YPA 2nd worst among 54 QBs with 30+ att.
League average was 31% C% and 14.0 YPA in 2021. https://t.co/5scIToXcUP
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) June 24, 2022
Lance, on the other hand, has shown he can connect on such passes.
At 6-foot-4 and at least 220 pounds, people have raved about his arm strength.
In addition, there is one interesting stat that seems to indicate how much better Lance could make his receivers compared to Garoppolo.
Deebo had HALF of his receiving TDs last season from the 2.5 games Trey Lance played.
— 🔥🌲🔥rEvolution🔥🌲🔥 (@tommytoxic317) June 26, 2022
It’s Time For The 49ers To Hand The Keys Over
Garoppolo is a very good signal-caller, and he’s a class act to boot, but he’s not an elite one, and by now it’s clear that he puts a glass ceiling over his team’s ultimate potential.
At age 30, he’s not going to become any better than he is now.
Lance, on the other hand, is just 22, and he hasn’t played a ton of competitive football going back to college, suggesting that he’s still very moldable at this point.
That means the team as a whole appears young enough to endure Lance’s inevitable growing pains until he becomes whatever he’ll become, whether it’s a superstar or just another good QB.