The San Francisco 49ers created a lot of drama and headlines at the 2021 NFL Draft.
Media professionals and football fans alike spent days wondering who the team would pick with the third overall pick in the draft.
It seemed clear that Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and BYU’s Zach Wilson would be the first two picks.
That left Alabama’s Mac Jones, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, and Ohio State’s Justin Fields as the remaining top-tier quarterback choices.
The 49ers kept it close to the cuff so there was a lot of surprise when Lance’s name was called.
Lance has a very limited college resume so the next question became: When will he play?
He feasibly could sit behind veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the entire 2021 season, learning the tricks of the trade from him.
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers_) May 26, 2021
That would be the smartest plan, but the 2021 NFL does not work that way.
Rookie quarterbacks tend to hit the ground running and get their on-the-job training by lining up under center.
The 49ers are talking a good game that Jimmy G will be the starter the whole season, but no one really believes that.
He is unfortunately injury prone, and the 49ers will want to see what Lance has.
With that being said, Lance will be make his first start during Week 7.
Why Week 7?
To begin with, the 49ers have an early bye week during Week 6.
The 49ers’ first five weeks of the season pose interesting challenges.
Those games are as follows:
- At Detroit Lions, Week 1
- At Philadelphia Eagles, Week 2
- Home versus Green Bay Packers, Week 3
- Home versus Seattle Seahawks, Week 4
- At Arizona Cardinals, Week 5
The 49ers could easily find themselves below .500 after that five-game span which opens the door for a potential quarterback change.
Week 7 is a home game versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Playing against Carson Wentz seems like a good opportunity for Lance.
That is a good time to see what Lance has leading up to the game that really tells the tale.
Week 8 (Halloween) at Chicago has a battle of the draft picks with a Lance versus Fields matchup (Fields will be playing by then also).
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) May 26, 2021
What About Jimmy G?
2022 is the final year of his contract.
He will not be playing for the 49ers next season.
Let’s remember that he has a no-trade clause in his contract for the 2021 season.
Worth mentioning: 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has a no-trade clause for the 2021 League Year only. That means the Niners can't trade him w/o his consent between now and March 2022. Kyle Shanahan said yesterday he expects Garoppolo to be his starter in '21.
Here's the language … pic.twitter.com/SgJpVA6qRX
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 18, 2020
All bets are off beginning March 2022.
The 49ers have to see if Lance is going to be the starter in 2022, and they cannot wait the entire season to do it.
Essentially both Garoppolo and Lance are playing for starting jobs in 2022 so the 49ers have to figure out the best way to achieve both of those goals.
They want Jimmy G to do well so he can be a viable trade option, and they obviously want Lance who is the franchise quarterback of the future to flourish.
All this means that the drama started by the 49ers in the 2021 NFL Draft is bound to continue through the entire season.