If it were up to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, Trey Lance would be with the team for the 2023 NFL season.
At the end of the day, though, they will do what's in the best interest of the young quarterback after naming Sam Darnold the backup for Brock Purdy earlier this week.
"I think what happens is the 49ers look to see if they can find a home for him," ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported Thursday on "Get Up" (h/t 49ers Webzone). "And they're not looking for very much. They honestly, truly would like to put him in a situation where he can shine, where he can excel, because they do believe that he's made improvements.
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"But it's just that they're going with Brock Purdy, and they like Sam Darnold, and they like Brandon Allen. And so they're looking to put Trey Lance, essentially, up for adoption. Who wants to adopt him and put him in a nice home where they're going to raise him the right way, where he's going to get some work?"
Lance, who the 49ers traded up for to select No. 3 overall in the 2021 draft, went from the future of the franchise to the bottom of the depth chart. He was named the starter for the 2022 season but sustained a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 and was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo, who was eventually replaced by Purdy.
After it became clear that Purdy would be the starter for 2023 after an incredible rookie season, Lance and Darnold competed throughout training camp for the backup job. In the end, Darnold came out on top.
San Francisco 49ers
"… Since he's been recruited out of high school, I think he's thrown about 475 passes in games," Schefter continued. "He has gotten next to no work. He has not had the time nor the opportunity to develop the way that he should through the fault of nobody. And so the 49ers are open to trading him, and they will look to trade him in the next week to somebody that will take him in, and give him a nice home, and give him an opportunity.
"And if it doesn't happen, then they'll keep him around there, and continue to grow and nurture him there. But I think, in a perfect world, they look to trade him by Tuesday's 04:00 P.M. Eastern roster cutdown deadline."
Understandably, Lance doesn't have much of a trade market. He has just one season as a starter at North Dakota State and never played even a quarter of the snaps in consecutive games at the NFL level. One NFL reporter spoke with multiple league executives who measured Lance's value at an early Day 3 NFL Draft pick.
After Shanahan broke the news to Lance, who was "devastated" by the demotion, the signal-caller was noticeably absent from Wednesday's practice after both sides agreed it would be best for him to take the day off. But both Shanahan and Lynch anticipate Lance will play in San Francisco's preseason finale Friday against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium.
On Thursday, Lynch addressed what Lance's future with the 49ers might look like.
Lynch said he believes Lance will come back to the team and stay for the regular season.
“We’re very happy with Trey,” Lynch said on KNBR's "Murph & Mac." “That’s probably the most likely option, that he’s here. ... If we could find a landing spot for Trey that is a really good one for him and works for our organization, that’s not something we’d turn a blind eye to.
“But that’s not where our focus is right now. I think our focus is on Trey getting back here and us being the best football team.”