Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo believes Trey Lance still has ‘bright future' in NFL

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One year after a curious preseason saga involving the two quarterbacks, neither Jimmy Garoppolo nor Trey Lance remains a member of the 49ers.

And having gone through a similar bout of uncertainty with San Francisco, the Las Vegas Raiders signal-caller is pulling for his younger former teammate after Lance was traded to the Dallas Cowboys late last week.

"Excited for Trey. Just a new opportunity for him," Garoppolo told "NFL Total Access" in an interview that will air Tuesday night (h/t NFL.com). "Things didn't work out in San Francisco for whatever reasons, but glad that he gets another shot, man. This league's all about opportunities, and when you get a fresh one like that, you've just got to take advantage of it. 

"Everyone has their own path and everything like that. It's never going to be easy, but it's how you come out the other end of it. So I'm always excited for him, man. He's a brother of mine. Always pulling for him."

Last summer, Lance was named the 49ers starter while Garoppolo, the team's longtime QB1, awaited either a trade or release. But that didn't happen -- he instead agreed to take a pay cut and stayed on to back up Lance. Garoppolo eventually got a shot to start again when Lance broke his ankle in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season, but a subsequent broken foot in Week 13 put the veteran out for the rest of the campaign, too.

With then-rookie Brock Purdy's ascension as a bonafide NFL starter in their absence, the opportunities had run out for Lance before the final preseason game this year, the 49ers decided. The 23-year-old was told last Wednesday he would be third on the depth chart behind Purdy and backup Sam Darnold, and by Friday, he was a Cowboy.

"I don't know how the whole thing shook out and everything," Garoppolo said. "While I was there, Kyle was gonna call the plays for you. You've just got to go up there and execute them to the best of your ability.

"Trey's a brother of mine, man, so like I said before, I'm always pulling for him. I think he's got a bright future in this league. Dude's got talent. Just got to get him out there."

Lance finds himself in a similar situation with Dallas as the presumed third-string quarterback behind starter Dak Prescott and his backup Cooper Rush. But with Purdy's youth and the skills he flashed last season, it appears San Francisco might have found its long-term answer at the position that has plagued the team for years.

With the Cowboys, things aren't as concrete. Dallas owner Jerry Jones didn't consider the impact trading for Lance might have on Prescott, he told reporters after the trade, and the quarterback wasn't aware the trade was going to happen until after the fact.

Having missed 16 games since the 2020 season, Prescott's durability has been questioned as of late, and the veteran has a projected cap hit of $59 million next season in the final year of his contract with a potential Micah Parsons extension looming. Plus, Jones seems high on Lance's potential as a former first-round pick.

The future in Dallas appears, at the least, much more uncertain than that of the 49ers, but Garoppolo doesn't feel bad for Prescott. In fact, he believes it could pay off for the Cowboys starter -- as San Francisco drafting Lance No. 3 overall in 2021 did for him.

"There's always a younger guy trying to come in, and obviously, the coaches want younger, cheaper players to do something that they think is better than you," Garoppolo said. "But that's what makes this league so great, man. It pushes you.

"Having to train whoever it was the Niners drafted, that was gonna push me and make me a better player, and I came out better on the other end from it. So I think it's all about perspective. You've got to realize where you rank in this whole thing and just what an opportunity this is to be in the NFL, to be an NFL quarterback. It's not easy, but you've gotta love it, man."

Garoppolo's 49ers tenure was full of winning, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. And as he begins his new journey with Las Vegas, it's evident he'll keep an eye on his "brother" Lance over in the NFC.

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