However, they spent the 3rd overall pick on Trey Lance, a raw quarterback prospect from North Dakota St. University (NDSU). In order to draft Trey Lance, the 49ers had to give up multiple first-round picks and mortgaged their future for this guy. Cries for Trey Lance to be inserted in as the 49ers starting quarterback are going to come in sooner rather than later.
When Jimmy Garoppolo was traded in the middle of the 2017 NFL season, the 49ers only gave up a 2nd-round pick. Jimmy Garoppolo did not start right away, but he replaced C.J. Beathard due to injury. The 49ers were 1-10 when Garoppolo took over and he went 5-0 as their starting quarterback. That was unheard of at the time, which led the 49ers to give Jimmy Garoppolo a 5 year/$137.5 million contract. There were also $74.1 million in guarantees on that contract.
However, not all was well for Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo played decently in three starts in 2018, but he tore his ACL. His season was done and the 49ers struggled without Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers were granted the 2nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, as they finished 4-12. The contract initially looked bad for the 49ers by this time.
With the 2nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected Nick Bosa, an edge rusher from Ohio St. Nick Bosa proved to be an immediate impact player. Jimmy Garoppolo returned from his torn ACL injury and played a big part in turning around the 49ers. They went 13-3 and had the No. 1 seed in the NFC with Garoppolo being clutch throughout the season. It certainly helped when their defense was making plays. George Kittle also solidified himself as an elite tight end, which made their offense easier for the 49ers to execute.
Everything was running effectively until the 2019 NFL Playoffs rolled around for Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. Garoppolo’s role on the team diminished as they became more of a running team. That meant the 49ers did not use their passing game often.
Despite that, the 49ers made it to Super Bowl LIV against the Chiefs. For three quarters, Jimmy Garoppolo played well enough to win. He was also accurate with the football. However, in the fourth quarter, Garoppolo struggled as he was a factor why the 49ers lost a 10-point lead. Jimmy Garoppolo also overthrew Emmanuel Sanders for a touchdown with the game on the line. Concerns about Jimmy Garoppolo started growing big time after the 4th quarter performance in Super Bowl LIV.
Rumblings about replacing Jimmy Garoppolo started gaining traction in the 2020 offseason. Ultimately, the 49ers decided to stay with Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback. That gamble did not play well as injuries decimated Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers the next year. Durability with Jimmy Garoppolo had turned into a huge concern. The best attribute to have is availability and clearly, Jimmy Garoppolo did not have that. This led the 49ers to trade up to the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to draft Trey Lance.
Evaluation of Trey Lance
The future 49ers starting quarterback is likely to be Trey Lance. Coming from a D-II school, Trey Lance will more than likely be a raw prospect to work with. However, that is not concerning since Trey Lance has a high football IQ. Trey Lance at NDSU called his own plays, played in a pro-style offense, and called audibles. Kyle Shanahan’s offense is one of the toughest systems to learn, but Trey Lance has a bright mind for his age. It would not be surprising if Trey Lance saw the field sooner rather than later. Trey Lance is just simply a physical freak.
There are concerns about Trey Lance being able to handle tough competition at the NFL level. However, the lack of competition for Trey Lance is not concerning, despite the fact that he did play in D-II football. His head coach, Kyle Shanahan, will put Trey Lance in advantageous situations where opposing defenses cannot overwhelm him. If Trey Lance understands enough of the playbook, he will be a nightmare for opposing defenses to deal with. Trey Lance also has accuracy issues, but that can be corrected by the 49ers coaching staff. They will also scheme guys open, so Lance does not have to be laser accurate with the football. At least not right away.
When I think about Trey Lance, he reminds me of Josh Allen and Cam Newton in his prime type of player. Trey Lance has elite athleticism and he can overwhelm opposing defenses simply by his athleticism. The arm strength is already there for Trey Lance, so that is a given. Trey Lance simply needs seasoning in his skills. If Lance realizes his potential to the fullest, he will become a future MVP candidate. He has what it takes to be an elite quarterback in today’s NFL.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a good quarterback when healthy, but I do not trust him to stay healthy throughout the entire 2021 NFL season. The odds are against them when using prior history. If the past truly predicts the future, then Jimmy Garoppolo will be injured at some point in the 2021 NFL season. It is certainly tough to predict when Garoppolo will get injured. However, there is a pretty good chance that Garoppolo will be injured sometime before November or December.
I am going to predict that Trey Lance will make his first start in Week 8 against the Bears in Chicago. I envision Jimmy Garoppolo getting injured in Week 7 against the Colts at home on Sunday Night Football. Trey Lance will finish out that game and then proceed to become the 49ers starter in Week 8. After that, I do not see Lance losing his starting job for the rest of the 2021 NFL season as the rest of the NFL will be put on notice. His skills are going to be difficult to stop for any defense and it will show.
Jimmy Garoppolo is on a short leash and he will have to find a way to stay healthy. If not, then Jimmy Garoppolo will never regain the starting job back from Trey Lance. It really is that simple. Staying healthy is the biggest X-factor for Jimmy Garoppolo. It just depends on whether Garoppolo will stay healthy or not. Picking Trey Lance was smart for the 49ers to do. Trey Lance will be an impact player sooner rather than later.