Kittle: Choice between Jimmy G and Lance is a ‘toss-up'


George Kittle has heaped praise on Trey Lance this offseason as the second-year quarterback prepares to potentially take over under center for the 49ers, comparing him to elite NFL signal-callers and warning the league of his high-ceiling potential.

But as Kittle’s good friend and veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo remains on San Francisco’s roster, questions about who is best-equipped to lead the 49ers in 2022 have endured longer than many thought they would.

With a potential quarterback competition looming, Kittle discussed the pros and cons to both Lance and Garoppolo as starters during an interview with ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio last week, calling the choice a “toss-up.”

“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I know that’s one reason I’m not the head coach of the 49ers, so that’s all on coach [Kyle] Shanahan,” Kittle told Florio, who had asked the tight end which quarterback would be in the team’s best interest to start.

After Garoppolo led the 49ers to a 10-7 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game during the 2021-22 season, the front office fully intended on trading the 30-year-old this offseason so that their 2021 first-round draft pick, Lance, could assume the role of starter.

That still hasn’t happened -- yet -- forcing everyone, including Kittle, to acknowledge the slim possibility that Garoppolo could still be in a 49ers uniform come August.

“I’ll give you both ways -- Jimmy G, awesome in the huddle, great leader, directs guys, people go to attention when he’s talking,” Kittle told Florio of Garoppolo’s benefits. “He’s got a quick release, he knows the offense. Been to the two NFC Championship Games, so he knows what he’s doing.”

But what about Lance?

“Trey Lance can run, extend plays, does all the play-action stuff incredible,” Kittle said. “He could throw the ball 70 yards.

“So it’s just -- I don’t know, it’s a toss-up for me.”

It’s clear Kittle believes whoever he’s connecting with next season should give the 49ers a good chance to win. All he wants is to catch the ball, and a little quarterback competition never hurt anybody -- especially a young signal-caller once again looking to prove his worth against a battle-tested veteran.

“As long as you're throwing me the football, it is what it is,” Kittle told Florio. “Football is a competitive sport. If there’s not competition, if you’re not fighting for your starting job every single day, then you’re not going to get better.”

RELATED: Kittle makes interesting comparison for contract negotiations

In the end, Kittle believes having Garoppolo and Lance on the roster last season made both quarterbacks challenge and better each other.

“It was nice to see those two push each other all year, and I think Trey learned a lot from Jimmy,” Kittle said. “If Trey’s the starter and there’s growing pains, so be it.

“I think we have good enough players around him to help him succeed, from Trent Williams to [Brandon] Aiyuk to hopefully [Deebo] Samuel to me to run our game.”

If and when Lance does end up as the starter, like the 49ers have said they believe he is ready to do, he will have quite the group of teammates to help support his ascension.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast

Contact Us