Weeks before the 2021 NFL Draft, the Niners traded 12 spots up with plans in mind to take a quarterback. Head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t give starting signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo a call until after the news reached Twitter. Shanahan told Garoppolo that he wanted to give him some competition. That said, a blockbuster trade like that always screams “replacement” and Garoppolo wasn’t happy about it.
Then draft day rolled around and when the Niners selected North Dakota State product Trey Lance at No. 3 overall, Garoppolo was the first to text him and congratulate him.
“That meant a lot to me and people in my corner,” Lance told NFL.com. “That shows a lot about the type of person he is, and the type of teammate. I was very thankful that he reached out to me and I’m super excited to get there and learn as much as I can from him.”
Jimmy G can relate to Lance’s situation. He’s an FCS product out of Eastern Illinois and joined a Super Bowl contender after getting drafted to sit behind a veteran before jumping into a starting role. Of course, his story took a different turn after San Francisco traded for him and he never got the chance to fill Tom Brady’s shoes. It definitely worked out in Garoppolo’s favor though, as he found his niche elsewhere.
Injuries and a bad game in the 31-20 Super Bowl LIV loss against the Chiefs has Niners fans ready to move on from Garoppolo. After all, the Niners sent a huge package to the Dolphins for Lance and fans want to see what the hype is truly about. Is this the right move now?
- The Niners Are in Good Hands With Jimmy Garoppolo
Many disagree but Jimmy G is still the best option the Niners have right now. The future is in good hands with Lance but the present is fine with Garoppolo. Both quarterbacks have different styles. Garoppolo is a pocket passer with some running ability while Lance can eventually the speed and accuracy out of the pocket.
Lance has to spend at least year as backup, learning. Right now, neither quarterback can succeed with San Francisco if their Niners teammates falter. This happened time and time again this season, as wide receivers dropped passes and we saw holes in the offensive line, muffed kick returns on special teams and numerous pass-interference calls on the defensive secondary. Mistakes like this won’t help Garoppolo nor Lance be at their best.
The Week 8 game against the Bears on October 31 exemplifies why the Niners have to stick with Jimmy G this season. Garoppolo threw for 322 yards and finished with a passer rating over 100. He even ran for two touchdowns and scrambled a bit more than usual. You could also see him hype up his receivers after a rough series. Whatever he said, worked and this leadership a reason why Lance should still be the backup.
Garoppolo has seen his name all over the newspapers and online articles in trade rumors and demands to sit him but he’s still willing to lead the Niners, teach Lance, and do what’s best for the team. Last Monday he helped the Niners beat the Rams 31-10 in a crucial game while completing 15 of 19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. San Francisco is now 4-5 and a wild card spot is possible. They should stick with Jimmy G.
- Lance Needs to Improve His Footwork and Trust His Reads
The Niners saw the promise from Trey Lance during Week 5 when he made his debut as an NFL starter but there’s a lot of room for improvement. San Francisco lost the game 17-10 at Arizona and while Lance wasn’t disastrous, you could see his inexperience.
Lance completed 15 of 29 passes for 192 yards with one interception and a 58.4 passer rating. He also ran for 89 yards on 16 carries and came inches away from his second rushing touchdown of the season. The rookie gave fans reasons for hope and his future is bright but he has to improve his footwork when sensing pressure. His bobbing up and down also generated inaccuracy and he has to work a lot on these aspects.
He also has to recognize which wide receiver will uncover and get open, he can’t just look for wideouts who are open. All of this will likely come with increased reps and further chemistry with his teammates. He has to know where they’ll be when the ball arrives and not where they currently are but he’s young. The Niners should put him in a position to learn and not make him the starter in the middle of a playoff race.