“All rookie quarterbacks should sit”

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) passes the ball under pressure from Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) in the fourth quarter during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sep. 26, 2021 in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Lachlan Cunningham)

In the wake of San Francisco’s first loss of the season on Sunday night to Green Bay making a change at the quarterback position has been a heated topic on the talk shows and among 49ers fans.

With the topic of rookie quarterbacks playing, Quincy Avery of QB Takeover shared his thoughts on Thursday, “I’ve always said all rookie QBs should sit. The juice just ain’t worth the squeeze playing them their rookie year,” said Avery.


When asked why Avery felt this way he responded, “It’s a different game than anything they’ve ever experienced. I think you asking a lot of a person at a position that is driven around confidence to be confident in an environment that’s pretty foreign to them. And if they play poorly, I think it does far more harm than good.”


Avery is in a unique position, having worked with a number of the top quarterbacks from this year’s draft class, including Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and the name all 49ers’ fans are familiar with, Trey Lance.

After the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the North Dakota State football program in 2020, Lance moved to Georgia and worked with Avery and his staff to stay sharp and prepare for the NFL draft. 

The comments made by Avery weren’t singling out any specific quarterback, however, it’s interesting to note that Trey Lance is the only quarterback among the top five selected in May which has yet to start this season.

While the clamoring from fans for Lance to play has grown, Shanahan has continued to stay steadfast in his belief that Jimmy Garoppolo is playing well, and Lance needs time to develop.

“We’re going with our starting quarterback who I think is playing very well. I’m happy that he is so Trey is not thrown into any situations he has to do too early,” said Shanahan. “If he ever is thrown into that, then I know Trey will deal with that and he’ll get better as it goes, but we have a luxury where we don’t have to do that yet to Trey or to our team. So, hopefully, we won’t have to.”

To this point, Shanahan’s plan at quarterback has worked with the 49ers winning two of their first three games. Meanwhile, the other four teams that have thrown their rookies into the fire have won only one game started by their rookie, and that came when rookie Mac Jones led the New England Patriots to victory over fellow rookie Zach Wilson and the New York Jets.

This article has 26 Comments

  1. Also worth noting that during predraft interviews Avery said that if you needed to start one of the rookie QBs, he believed Lance would be the most ready to do so. Not that he was ready – just more ready than the others.

    From what we have seen through three weeks, obviously can’t be sure if Lance is actually more ready, but none of the others have done much to show they are. Letting Lance sit and learn is looking like a pretty smart decision.

    1. That’s correct. One of Avery’s partners is Sean McEvoy. When we interviewed him prior to the draft he raved about Lance’s ability to go through plays on the board.

      1. Not that it matters but Lance’s wonderlic score was extremely high. The guy has a pretty sharp head on his shoulders and is able to evaluate and process information at a really fast rate.

        I took the wonderlic some years back and while the questions are easy, it’s no simple task to get through all of them in the short amount of time given.

      2. I agree that Lance should have been, in theory, much further ahead than Wilson, Fields, and Jones, while Trevor Lawrence is gifted enough to win games if he were on a talented, established team like the 49ers.

        I mean, does Lawrence look overwhelmed to you guys tonight? He’s just on an upstart, JV squad, that’s all.

        And the other thing to consider. Kyle was supposed to be the QB whisperer. He turned RG3 into a budding star his rookie season, and the 49ers were supposed to be a better team than those Redskins, or these Jets, Patriots, Bears, and Jaguars, so how can we really compare each circumstance as being equal?

        Comparing all of these rookie QB’s is apples and oranges as far as I am concerned.

        Bottom line is, at the very least, we should being seeing a heavier dose of Trey Lance, between the 20’s, and that we aren’t is a failure on Kyle’s part, IMO.

        1. The biggest knock on these kids is that they can’ get through their progressive reads. Mac Jones throws in rhythm, but almost always to his first read (same deal in college, but his elite playmakers would almost always win their route), regardless of the play. Zach Wilson is never on time with his throws (same deal in college, receivers waiting on the football), and he also holds onto the football way to long. Justin Fields never had a chance in his first start, but he’s likely a bit of a project, and Matt Nagy seems entirely in over his head. And Trevor Lawrence is playing on a young, underdeveloped team, with a rookie for a HC, for crying out loud.

          Trey Lance, he’s different. At least that’s what we’ve been told. He ran a lot of the same concepts, and made most of his own reads / audibles, and he’s a really smart kid. If Kyle had actually put in the work to pump up his confidence, instead of treating him like he’s in over his head, Trey Lance could be doing a lot more for this team than acting like a poor man’s Taysom Hill!

          1. Like I’ve said, holding onto Jimmy post draft, made moving on from him more difficult than it needed to be. Then you let Jimmy roll thru training camp, and of course the locker room is going to take the side of Team-Jimmy, over a 21 year old rookie, regardless of the discrepancy in raw talent. These guys have been to war with Jimmy, so how did Kyle think this would ever really work anyways? Jimmy is going to continue to have these kinds of games, and a large portion of the fan base is going to continue to call for Lance.

            It couldn’t be a better set up for a classic QB controversy in as far as the fans, and by extension the beat writers, are concerned. I mean, a large portion of the fan base has been frustrated with Jimmy G since before the Super Bowl. Nobody dislikes Jimmy! Heck, I think he’s a gamer, and a true professional. But he’s been extremely injury prone, and many believe his limitations, even when healthy, will continue to hold this team back. It’s really that simple.

            1. Question: What is one of the things that Steve Young and Joe Staley have in common?

              Answer: They both think Trey Lance needs to play a lot more than he is now.

  2. If Lance had played with last sunday’s OL, he would have been creamed.
    Like I said before, if KS thought he was ready he would have played Trey on day one!
    Yes JG makes mistakes but he has put in a performance that put the niners in a position to win three in a row.
    Jimmy didn’t lose the game in the last 36 seconds………..

    1. Dee, serious question, and I don’t pretend to really know: Don’t you think that Trey would have scrambled around and made off-script plays? Wilson used to do it a lot, maybe still does, I don’t watch their games.

      1. Funny (no pun) that you ask George.
        After his surprise TD-run, Trey was brought in the game again later on. When he couldn’t run in for a TD, he scrambled and threw a lousy pass. I hope you don’t want to see more of that.
        JG had lousy protection on Sunday. I think GB was hoping that we put in Trey. He would have been sacked numerous times and maybe got off one long pass.
        That’s why I saw and I think that’s what KS thinks.
        Kyle is playing the best we got for the moment.

        1. Hey Dee, with all due respect, how can you say Trey scrambled and threw a lousy pass? Isn’t the photo that Jack posted above, a photo of the play you are referring to? It’s clear that Trey was being dragged down from behind while he was releasing the football. That’s not a lousy pass. If anything, his ability to scramble on that play prevented a sack. And BTW, because Trey was able to roll outside the pocket, GB was forced to drag Kittle down in order to prevent the TD reception, so in regards to this play, didn’t Trey do his job properly?

          Other than that, keep posting because it seems like you know the sport well, and although I don’t always agree with your take, I do always value your point of view! Cheers!

          1. 49Reasons, I don’t think that George meant the kind of scramble that ends up in a loss. We’re all hoping that Lance will be like Wison one day, or better. It would be irresponsible at this time to put someone with so little college and pro experience in the game in order to hope that he will be great.

            1. I agree with you Dee, under most circumstances. Trey Lance is one of those exceptions.

              One of the reasons so many of these rookie QB’s are really struggling, is because the college system that they learned how to play in, are vastly different from the pros. Most of these young QB’s aren’t coming out of a pro style system. Back in the day, a lot of these colleges were running the wishbone offense. Nowadays, these teams aren’t even huddling up. North Dakota State huddles up. Most of these offenses get to the LOS, and then they all look over to the sideline for the calls. Trey Lance made his own reads and calls at the LOS. Most of these young QB’s don’t have Trey’s athleticism to fall back on when they are struggling in the pocket, but the ones who have been athletic over the last 6-7 years, have been able to come in and compete as rookies, without being damaged.

              So it ends up that Trey Lance is exactly the kind of rookie QB whom we’ve seen come in a play well as rookies. The Kyler Murrays, the DeShaun Watsons, the Russell Wilsons, the Dak Prescotts – these guys all have the similar physical skillsets. They are all prototypical PASS FIRST QB’s who are extremely mobile. And as I mentioned above ….. unlike most of these guys, Trey Lance actually came out of a system that runs a lot of these pro style concepts.

              Here’s the kicker: Unlike most of these top QB prospects, top 10 picks …. they almost always end up on bad teams as rookies. So there inexperience is exasperated because they are surrounded with lesser talent. And to expand on that, often times they are also joining young coaching staffs. Trey Lance was drafted by an established, playoff caliber team. He’s surrounded with tons of talent, and his coaching staff is supposed to run the most QB friendly system in the league. In fact, RG3, who was nowhere near as talented as a passer as Trey Lance, was named offensive rookie of the week twice, early on in his rookie season, and his sensational play earned him so much respect from his teammates, that they voted him team Captain during their bye week.

              RG3’s rookie season under Kyle Shanahan:

              ROOKIE RECORDS – Highest passer rating ever by a rookie (102.4), and Best TD to INT ratio ever for a rookie (1.3%)

              ROOKIE AWARDS – NFL Offensive ROY and was named to the NFL Pro Bowl

              TEAM W-L RECORD – The Redskins started the season with a 3-6 record, but then they won 7 straight games to finish at 10-6, and they made the postseason behind rookie QB – RG3

              Summery: Trey Lance is an exception to the rule! We can’t simply lump all rookie QB’s into the same category, because all rookie QB’s are not created equal. And if your not going to start him, t the very least Trey Lance aught to be much more involved in the 49ers offense!

              1. And did you guys see Trevor Lawrence last night? Does he look overwhelmed? No, and he’s on a bad team, and has a rookie HC.

                I wasn’t high on Wilson, or Mac Jones coming out, so I never expected them to do much as rookies. I was high on Fields, even though I recognized that he was a bit of a project.

                But Trevor Lawrence? Oh boy was I high on him. Generational talent with a similar skill set to Trey Lance. I guarantee you guys that Trevor Lawrence is going to be LEAPS and BOUNDS ahead of Trey Lance next season if Kyle continues to use Trey like he has been so far.

                I’m not saying their won’t be growing pains early on with Trey Lance, but Jimmy G. still makes those kinds of rookie mistakes, and he’s a seasoned veteran for crying out loud, and Trey already has more to offer than Jimmy ever will!

  3. Thanks for this interesting perspective on our QB situation, Jack. BTW, I checked out Avery’s website, looking for QB recommendations. All I found was a quote from Tony Dungy recommending Avery to anyone who wanted to be a college QB. Does Avery work with pro QBs also?

  4. There shouldn’t be any controversy about the quarterback position. Jimmy was a top 10. quarterback in 2019. He’s consistently been an above average QB. Maybe Trey has the potential to be top 5 but not only is he a rookie, he didn’t even play college ball last year. I believe Jimmy will start all year if he continues to play at a level consistent with his past performance. The #1 goal this year is to win games. Trey will get snaps when he can add value but as Shanahan has stated, his development will mostly occur on the sideline.

  5. It would be premature to have Lance start games. While he is bright, and has lots of tools, he is too inexperienced to be a starter. Having him watch and learn, and occasionally get in for a few plays, is the best way to develop him—and that includes his emotional development along with physical development.

    The Niners have other areas to focus on rather than quarterback starter. Improving how the offensive line performs and improving defensive strategies are more critical. If the Niners get past the Green Bay loss and improve there will be lots of opportunities for Lance to be inserted for his growth (and helping the team win).

  6. I like the idea of using talking points from football people to start off a blog post between the standard Niners team-coverage posts. It results in smarter discussion (unless any single poster splatters the blog with shotgun sprays of stream-of-consciousness rambles).

    Avery’s opinion is pretty much the opinion of the overwhelming majority of QB coaches and OCs that I have read or heard (as opposed to players or front office people who now have become media people and need to stir the QB pot in the ratings race).

    Almost all rookie QBs forced to start play for losing teams without quality players on offense, perhaps with the exception of Roethlisburger. Pretty much everyone had poor seasons with the exception of Luck who took a 2-14 team to the playoffs. Few have the mental strength of Manning to survive a 26 TD and 28 interception rookie season.

    I was pretty amazed when Joe Douglas refused to sign or trade for a solid veteran QB to start instead of Zach Wilson despite having both cap money and lots of picks. Like other GMs before him who thought that playing rookies is the best way to get them ready, he will regret the move, IMO.

  7. Well I don’t think Jimmy G is the problem. I don’t think he’s fantastic but the real issue with the 49ers is d line and o line play. I’d be perfectly happy if Lance sat and learned this entire season. My question is, would a read option offense better suit the skill set of the 49ers O-line at this point? The line is not playing well.. . Maybe get them some wins by using a scheme that better suits Trey Lance’s skill set. Truly not advocating for that change. Im just curious if guys like Mack, Brunskil, and McGlinchey would be playing better if the threat of a read option offense kept the d-line off balance a little more.

      1. In fact, in terms of the NINER’S roster, what’s wrong with this picture?

        49ERS – 2020 – weakest position groups: OL (interior), CB
        49ERS – 2021 – weakest position groups: OL (interior), CB

  8. Anyone who was around when Montana was drafted should know how careful Walsh was with him. Montana learned behind a QB with no pretentions to glory but who lasted a very long time in the NFL. Those that were around in 2005 know the horror of a narrow minded head coach who lucked into the first choice in the draft.

    Jack I appreciate the foundation that you have provided this group. Thanks.

    1. Apples to oranges, htwaits, with all due respect.

      Very different era, and frankly, different quarterbacks as well.

      And just a reminder …. Joe Montana was a 3rd round pick. The 49ers didn’t trade away a fortune for Joe. Plus, contracts were different back then, no salary cap, like I said, different era.

      1. With all due respect, Brady wasn’t even the Patriots first pick in the sixth round. At least Walsh saw something in Montana. What did the Patriots see in Brady beyond blind luck with a throw-away pick?

        “They should of done … ” never gets anywhere except for NFL owners who use it to make some of their worst decisions. Of course NFL owners are in a game rigged in their favor so no matter what choices they make the money keeps on coming.

        Enjoy the games each time there is one.

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