Let me put this here now: Trey Lance will be the starting quarterback in San Francisco sooner rather than later.
The countdown to the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo era has officially begun. The 49ers kicked off their preseason last Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs in a Super Bowl LIV rematch.
Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan He showed fans at the beginning of this display which of his two quarterbacks felt the most confident to lead his offense.
Jimmy G started the game as expected, recording three passes, all completed, for a total of 26 yards. All three were check-down passes in which the receiver (in this case, tight ends and running backs) accumulated the majority of the yards after the catch.
While YAC yards (yards after reception) are as good as any, Garoppolo’s style has been at the center of criticism surrounding the QB. Of his three pass attempts in the opening drive of this game, none of them were thrown more than a few yards beyond the scrimmage line, at best.
Although Garoppolo has been a winning quarterback throughout his career, he is not exactly known as someone who will broadcast it across the field. In the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers a couple of years ago, Garoppolo passed just eight times, completing six for 77 yards. The Niners won that game and advanced to the Super Bowl, but that kind of performance from their QB will end in a loss most of the time. Today, eight pass attempts in an NFL game is the definition of a game manager.
Coming back to the present, the first drive of the game is the only action Jimmy G saw on Saturday. That’s when Shanahan’s trust (or lack thereof) in Garoppolo came into play. Rookie Trey Lance entered the game with the starters for the 49ers second series. Shanahan immediately showed the world with his first play how confident he is in his rookie quarterback.
Play number one for Lance was a play action pass he sent to his wide receiver only to see it slip through his man’s hands and hit the ground. Then, Lance completed a couple of short passes on his first drive before the Niners kicked the ball back to the Chiefs.
Lance’s second drive started in the same way, game action, though this time he connected for an 80-yard touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield. Lance played the remainder of the first half and into the third quarter, finishing 5/14 for 128 yards and that TD bomb. It’s not a great stat line, but that 80-yard pass is very promising.
That kind of talent, size and versatility of arms is what Shanahan looks for in this offense. Lance is 6ft 4in, 220lbs, and can do athletic things Jimmy G couldn’t do in his dreams. Garoppolo has proven to be a good quarterback when everything around him works. Great defense, good running game, good wide receivers, etc. Lance is in the mold of other successful young quarterbacks in the league like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen, to name a few. Big, young and athletic. That’s what the QB position is all about now.
Coach Shanahan has become a master at playing mind games with the media. Before the draft in April, the word that Shanahan was sold to former Alabama QB Mac Jones.
Right until Shanahan and the 49ers were on the clock with the third pick, rumors were running that Jones would be the pick over Lance. We now know that this was not the case.
Looking back, Shanahan made all eyes roll over the eyes. The Niners themselves may have leaked the rumor that Jones was third overall to San Francisco to throw us off the track. If this is the case, it worked. Many major media outlets took hold of this rumor and followed it.
I refuse to fall in love with the okie doke this time. Shanahan is ready to leave Jimmy G as his starting quarterback. The technician has already confirmed that Lance will see playing time in the regular season. Shanahan has yet to name the rookie as a starter. But it will happen soon.
Garoppolo’s days are counted as the 49ers starter. It’s only a matter of time before we see Lance trotting down the field with the starters during a regular season game. With the 49ers opening the season in Detroit against the Lions and then heading to Philadelphia the following week for a showdown with the Eagles, we could see Lance much sooner than anyone could have predicted going into the season.
Realistically speaking, I can see that Lance will be named a starter in Week 5 against the Cardinals with the bye week after that game. Jimmy G could also force Shanahan’s hand and push Lance into action long before that.
Please pay attention to the signs. Don’t let Shanahan’s coach talk, fool you into thinking what he wants you to think.