Barring an unexpected offseason addition, the Trey Lance era will likely begin in San Francisco next season.
Reports indicate it almost started last fall.
On Thursday, NFL Media's Jim Trotter went on NFL Network to discuss the 49ers’ quarterback situation. Citing sources, Trotter said the 49ers considered naming Lance the starter during training camp before the rookie suffered an injury in late August, and lost the role to veteran Jimmy Garoppolo.
“He was in consideration, actually, to start going into the season until he got hurt in that preseason game where he injured the index finger on his throwing hand,” Trotter said.
Lance, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, sustained a finger fracture after making contact with the helmet of Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Max Richardson during San Francisco’s 34-10 win in the preseason finale.
Lance started two games in the regular season for the 49ers while Garoppolo nursed injuries of his own. In Week 17, Lance threw for 249 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 16-of-23 passing while Garoppolo was inactive due to a thumb injury. With the 49ers needing to beat the Los Angeles Rams the following week to clinch a playoff spot, head coach Kyle Shanahan considered giving Lance the starting nod again.
“And there was even a discussion about possibly starting him in that final regular-season game,” Trotter said. “But ultimately, the team decided that Jimmy had led them to that point, and they were going to stay there. And that’s what they did.”
San Francisco 49ers
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That decision worked in the 49ers’ favor, as San Francisco beat the Rams 27-24 and upset the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers in the postseason with Garoppolo at quarterback. It was the second deep playoff run of Garoppolo’s stint with the 49ers, an encore to the team’s journey in 2019 to Super Bowl LIV.
However, Garoppolo is expected to be dealt this offseason, a move that will further show the 49ers’ faith in Lance as their franchise quarterback.
“Why are they looking to move on from a quarterback who got them to a Super Bowl three years ago, got them to an NFC Championship Game last year? It’s because of Trey Lance,” Trotter said. “They feel very comfortable with him; they like him. Everything they expected of him last year, they saw. Even some of the rookie struggles some young guys might have.”
There will be growing pains with Lance at quarterback. After all, he’ll be just 22 years old at the start of the 2022 season. But Shanahan and the 49ers clearly like what they’ve seen from the former North Dakota State star.