The Trey Lance experiment has indeed been a disappointment so far for the 49ers

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals
Getty Images

Of the five quarterbacks taken in the first 15 picks of the 2021 draft, four have become their team’s starters. One has not.

That one, of course, is 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. From the moment the 49ers moved from No. 12 to No. 3, the writing became sandblasted into the concrete. Jimmy Garoppolo would be traded or cut by the team, sooner or later.

The time for saying “later” to Jimmy G has become later than sooner because, quite simply, Lance hasn’t shown that he’s the better option than Garoppolo.

Think about that one for a second. The 49ers invested the 12th overall pick, two more first-round picks, and a third-round pick in a quarterback who has been, to date, unable to prove that he’s the better option than a middle-of-the-pack quarterback who can’t stay heathy and who sufficiently freaked out coach Kyle Shanahan during the 2019 playoffs to prompt Shanahan to go three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust for the balance of the divisional round win over the Vikings and the NFC Championship shredding of the Packers.

Garoppolo remains the starter in part because the locker room is loyal to the incumbent. If they saw that Lance was clearly the better option, the loyalties would immediately pivot to the rookie.

None of this is to say that Lance won’t develop. However, at a time when more and more young quarterbacks are arriving via round one and instantly becoming starters, the guy in whom the 49ers invested three first-round picks and a third-round pick should be starting.

It may not be his fault. Maybe he shouldn’t have been the third overall pick. Maybe Shanahan is better with veterans than rookies. Maybe the third pick should have been Justin Fields or Mac Jones. Maybe the 49ers, after passing on Patrick Mahomes in 2017 and telling Tom Brady “no thanks” to a homecoming in 2020, pushed the needle too far the other way, going all in when they should have just stayed put.

The 49ers could have had Mahomes. They could have had Brady. They could have stayed at No. 12, kept their future first-round picks, and waited to see how the board played out. Instead, they still have Garoppolo, who will definitely start on Sunday night because he has recovered from his latest injury and because Lance, in his only start of the season, suffered a knee injury that has him out for the game.

To summarize, then, the 49ers had a veteran quarterback who is average at best and who can’t consistently stay healthy, along with the 12th overall pick in the draft, a third-round pick in 2021, and their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023. Now, they have a veteran quarterback who is average at best and who can’t consistently stay healthy, along with a rookie quarterback who has yet to beat out the veteran quarterback who is average at best and who, in one start, suffered a knee injury that two weeks later hasn’t healed.

Maybe Lance will eventually become the franchise’s next Joe Montana. Maybe Lance will get his fingerprints on three or four Lombardi Trophies. For now, though, it’s obvious that the move isn’t paying dividends for a team with 2021 Super Bowl aspirations that has lost three of its first five games and that will be hard pressed to even make the playoffs if they rack up their fourth loss before Halloween.

42 responses to “The Trey Lance experiment has indeed been a disappointment so far for the 49ers

  1. Trey Lance’s Bisons suspended their 2020 season and Lance had limited total collegiate pass attempts. The 49ers drafted him knowing he needed development which is why they’ve been calling Average Jim their starter since March. The 49ers have been an offensive disappointment thus far this season but I don’t consider raw Lance as part of that disappointment- yet. In his first chaotic start, Lance did nearly enough to beat the undefeated Cardinals on the road, which points to him being an encouraging prospect. Of course, he could fail to properly refine his throwing, but it’s way too early to judge.

  2. Maybe a team that can’t hardly keep any of its many starting running backs healthy for more than a couple weeks should have realized that the dimension a running quarterback would add to its offense is an even more frequently injured quarterback. They traded three 1st round picks and more, mortgaged the future, to put an extra piece of fine china in a china shop with a bull in it.

  3. R-E-L-A-X.

    The rookie started one game. Give him time.

    It’s not like the other 2021 rookie QB starters have been playing lights out.

  4. Really Florio??? You’re really putting that on this dude who is a rookie? I’m a Saints fan who hates the niners and even I think this is a ridiculous take six games into the season. Bless your heart

  5. If in 2022 Lance looks basically the same as he does now, someone will probably get fired in 2023.

  6. Everyone knew Lance would be a project after playing only one year in a minor conference. The media’s gonna be the media though.

  7. Noners knew Lance required development when they drafted him. Its too soon to judge him. Right this article after training camp next year if it applies.

  8. A lot of rookie QB’s had disappointing rookie years, before settling in and having HOF careers. I’m not saying anything about Trey Lance. It’s much too early to start evaluating. Peyton Manning was 3-13 his rookie year. Troy Aikman went 0-11. Terry Bradshaw 3-5. Steve Young went 1-4 his rookie year. Then 2-12 his second year. Then Tampa Bay gave up on him and moved him to the 49ers where he went on to have a HOF career. How could it be that all these HOF QB’s didn’t look like HOFers early in the rookie years? Well, if playing NFL QB were easy, they wouldn’t pay average guys $40 million per year. Lance could turn out to be a huge bust, or he could become a HOFer. The only thing we know for certain is it’s too early to tell anything. But, if we waited four years, what would we talk about?

  9. “That one, of course, is 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. From the moment the 49ers moved from No. 12 to No. 3, the writing became sandblasted into the concrete. Jimmy Garoppolo would be traded or cut by the team, sooner or later.”
    —————-
    Incorrect. That was just the narrative here. A lot of people believed Garappolo would start this year especially because of the lack if experience Lance had. It just happened that the narrative here didnt want to believe Lynch or Shanahan saying that jimmy g would be the starter repeatedly but instead wanted to type up conspiracy theories with their tinfoil hat on.

  10. Still taking shots i see. There’s no such thing as an average qb. You’re either bad,good or great. But you can’t say Garrapolo is bad huh flo.

  11. “…who sufficiently freaked out coach Kyle Shanahan during the 2019 playoffs to prompt Shanahan to go three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust for the balance of the divisional round win over the Vikings and the NFC Championship shredding of the Packers.”

    Or could it have been that Mostert was averaging like 8 yards a carry that game and you don’t take the ball out of your RBs hands when they’re that hot?

  12. charliecharger says:

    October 23, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    A lot of rookie QB’s had disappointing rookie years, before settling in and having HOF careers. I’m not saying anything about Trey Lance. It’s much too early to start evaluating. Peyton Manning was 3-13 his rookie year. Troy Aikman went 0-11. Terry Bradshaw 3-5. Steve Young went 1-4 his rookie year. Then 2-12 his second year. Then Tampa Bay gave up on him and moved him to the 49ers where he went on to have a HOF career. How could it be that all these HOF QB’s didn’t look like HOFers early in the rookie years? Well, if playing NFL QB were easy, they wouldn’t pay average guys $40 million per year. Lance could turn out to be a huge bust, or he could become a HOFer. The only thing we know for certain is it’s too early to tell anything. But, if we waited four years, what would we talk about?

    ———
    Hey look at that Charlie’s wrong again to no ones surprise. It’s cute that you used their team record to try to make them look bad and fit your make believe narrative though.

  13. He has so little experience at the college level. Should have been 3rd round pick or lower..
    49ers blew that pick BIG TIME!

  14. That kid from Liberty will be the same way. Talent only takes you so far. You need experience competing against other good kids. Especially at QB.

  15. It does not make any difference where Trey was taken and at what cost. If he is the man they have a qb for the next ten years. So what did this raw under-experienced qb demonstrate in his first two games as a qb?
    In the second half against GB, his first start without any prep, he basically won the game and forced GB into heroics – not Lance’s fault. He did pretty darn good after a moribund first half.
    Against the Cardinals, at this point the best team in the NFL, and his first start ever, he should have been doomed and the 49ers shamed. Lance was in the game the whole way and potentially winning it. If they hadn’t given up 6-10 points up-front they should have won it.
    After some heavy contact for any runner, he is injured – do not do this again, but I can see letting the kid play his aggressive running game and almost win. Sometimes you have to smash into the wall to know how that wall works in the NFL. Without any long passes (denied him by the defense) he still could easily have won the game.
    Pretty happy with Lance so far, you should be also

  16. I mean he faced a HOF quarter back and a HOF possible QB. The one team 5-1 and serious contender and the other tops in the NFL. And he was in both games, green plays and all

  17. I agree with the notion that it’s too early to label this guy a bust even though I have in a previous post. The one thing that jumps off the screen when I watch Trey Lance, is his poor accuracy. His footwork and throwing motion need big time work. I might be able to fix his throwing motion and get his feet in the right spot so he can start throwing spirals instead of wobbling cement bricks. I think what Trey needs to do is study that playbook until he knows it inside out. And then when he has that dialed perhaps Kyle will show more confidence in him. So far Trey has showed us he is a long ways away from being ready to take the reigns.

  18. Well for what they gave up and to see what the supposed lesser rookie QBs are doing yeah Id agree the are disappointed.

  19. nyctraffic says:
    Everyone knew Lance would be a project after playing only one year in a minor conference.
    =

    That may well be true. If so, the 49ers made a huge mistake because it stands to reason you don’t invest three No. 1 draft picks plus a third-rounder on a “project.”

  20. As a 49ers fan I hated the pick. I don’t need a full back playing QB. I don’t want to hear about that is the way the league is going. I need a QB who can read a defense and throw on time and accurate. If running QB’s get lower leg injuries usually you have a athletic QB that cannot depend on the athlete part and still cannot read and throw accurate on time. That’s why running backs, TE, and WR’s get paid. They get paid to run. It isn’t madden.

  21. After his rookie year, I truly felt Josh Allen couldn’t hit the broad side of a bar. It’s worked out. Remember when Drew Brees was borderline awful his first two years in the league and continued to struggle in his 3rd? I do

  22. Please remember who the Offensive Coordinator was for Washington when RG3 was a rookie. That was the same OC for Atlanta that screwed up vs. New England. He also was the play caller that blew a lead with 8 minutes to play vs KC in the Super Bowl.
    It is time for people to hold Kyle Shanahan accountable for his decision making.

  23. The guy played basically 1 season at North Dakota State. Everyone knew he was a project. You can’t evaluate it him on one game.

  24. I feel like Justin Fields is the player the Niners thought they were getting in Trey Lance. He’s a better athlete and far more accurate at this stage in his career.

  25. If they stayed at 12 – they could have had Mac and their picks – Mac’s numbers would have blown your doors off if this offensive line blocked top 5 like they were projected- instead they are performing like a bottom 5 OL and he’s still completing at 70%. If they ever block for this kid before he gets killed- lookout

  26. So are we really going to ignore the fact that the argument levied here would have applied in EXACTLY the same way to the Chiefs during Mahomes’s rookie year? How did that turn out? I’d say it proves that this is a very very bad argument.

  27. Davis Mills would have been the smart pick with Garrapolo signed thru 2022, keeping their draft picks and developing an athletic qb with a good arm.

  28. It still really bothers you that the pick wasn’t Mac Jones doesn’t it? A pick you were against, but since you were so wrong you will just never let it go now.

  29. Remember preseason when you couldn’t believe them when he couldn’t start? How many starts did this kid have at a low level school and why would anyone expect him to perform in the NFL now or even in 2 years? Won’t judge the pick but anyone who thought this kid was ready shouldn’t judge NFL QBs.

  30. You only spend that kind of capital on a sure thing. Everyone agrees he’s a project, even his supporters. That many picks had better land you Kyler Murray or Justin Herbert. If it gets you anynless, you’ve ser the team back too far.

  31. Hmmmm, alls I ever hear from the sports media is what a genius Kyle Shanahan is. A qb whisperer. All this despite a career losing record and only 1 winning season. I’m not sure why that bothers me but it does. I’m not a 49rs or Bears fan but I’m always fascinated by the “experts” telling me what a genius Shanahan is and what a dunce Matt Nagy is. Nagy took a terrible team, and with no qb has a winning record. I know it’s off subject but it just shows me what lazy reporting gets done on these football shows. It also drives home my belief that no one knows less about football than ex players.

  32. If 49ers fans recall,there was a little disagreement on who to draft at the #3 spot. Kyle Shanahan wanted Trey Lance and GM John Lynch wanted Mac Jones. Kyle got his way and John washed his hands of it…if Trey Lance doesn’t work out,the responsibility falls squarely on Kyle Shanahan. Over the past 4-5 yrs 1st round QBs aren’t getting 3-4 yrs to develop and prove they can win anymore,it’s more like 1-2 yrs(see Tua Tagovailoa and Josh Rosen). It’s hard to be patient with rookie QBs in a win now mentality in the NFL. Sure Trey Lance can’t read a defense to save his life right now,but remember Patrick Mahomes admitted he couldn’t read a defense until halfway thru his 3rd season. Good things come to those who wait.

  33. Mahomes spent a year on the bench behind average Alex, and lets not pretend the rookie QBs starting are looking amazing.

  34. We can’t make a fair evaluation by putting him on and off the field. My guess is, as soon as he becomes a starter, he will learn like Wilson (1-4), Lawrence (1-5), and Jones (4-2) are actually doing since day one. And not to mention the full attention of the coaching staff, and first team reps when you are the starter.

  35. This is the NFL world we live in now. If a rookie QB doesn’t come in and show he’s HOF material he’s a bust or a disappointment. How many games has he played? Has he played a full season? Tua has been blasted for two years and now Trey Lance. What did Josh Allen look like his first year. All I’m saying is at least give these kids a chance.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.