How Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to the 49ers impacts Trey Lance

The 49ers are Trey Lance’s team.

San Francisco’s decision to bring veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo back on a restructured contract has no bearing on this.

Since the news of Garoppolo’s return broke, the question has been, how will this affect Trey Lance?

The answer to that question is simple; it won’t.

Kyle Shanahan has shown throughout his career that he understands how to handle quarterbacks. He showed it once again last year.

Shortly after selecting Lance third overall, Shanahan told anyone who chose to listen who his quarterback would be in 2021.

“It’s going to be very hard for a rookie to come in and beat Jimmy Garoppolo out. He’s a very good player,” Shanahan said. “That’s why I like the situation that we are in. Now, we’ll see where Trey’s at. We’ll see how he does at OTAs. I love that we’re getting those. I love that he’s going to be here tomorrow. But Jimmy’s our quarterback right now.”

As the team began losing games early in the season, Shanahan was questioned repeatedly about the quarterback situation. Through it all, the head coach stuck with Jimmy Garoppolo, with Lance’s only extended playing time coming when Garoppolo was unable to play due to injury.

During his press conference to open training camp, Shanahan was asked if having Garoppolo around while working his way back from shoulder surgery might impact Lance.

“This is Trey’s team and that’s nothing against Jimmy,” said Shanahan. “We made that decision a year ago and we’re going with that and we’re not going to mess around with that anymore.”

Sound familiar?

Let’s be clear. The only way things get weird around the 49ers this season is if Trey Lance isn’t the player San Francisco expected him to be, and the team is losing.

Using 2021 as an example again, even when the team was sitting on the brink of playoff elimination at 3-5, it was Jimmy Garoppolo under center. Shanahan told reporters that following the season, he was close to making a move to Lance and would have done so if they didn’t defeat the Rams at Levi’s Stadium on Monday Night Football.

Even if that happens again this season, it’s unlikely we see Jimmy Garoppolo unless Lance cannot play. Kyle Shanahan fully understands what making that move represents.

The quarterback is the leader of every football team. Playing musical chairs that the most critical position creates instability which seldom leads to success. Take an example of how the first half of the 1988 season went in San Francisco. That team struggled to a 6-5 start as Bill Walsh went back and forth between Steve Young and Joe Montana. Once Walsh committed to a quarterback, there was no turning back, and they went on to win Super Bowl XXIII.

Removing Lance in favor of Garoppolo would have repercussions beyond the current season. Kyle Shanahan is an intelligent coach who understands this. 

The return of Garoppolo makes a loaded roster even better but make no mistake about it. The 49ers are Trey Lance’s team now.

This article has 19 Comments

  1. Finally, a writer with sense on the matter! Couldnt have said it better myself. Ill add my opinion in that we’ve already seen that Lance isnt a complete bust. Not to Jim Drunkenmiller levels at least. Sure, we still wont really know where his ceiling is until defenses have tape and adjust but to me this is one of the most exciting times to ever be a 49er fan. And KS is pretty much tied to Lance, hes going to want to know where his ceiling is at before anybody. I dont see him going back to JG for any reason ever, outside of an injury

  2. Agree with Jack. In addition, Trey is unusually mature and poised for 22. Jimmy G has proven to be a good team player. Those commenters who keep belittling Trey saying his psyche is destroyed are playing out a fantastical script that does not fit what trey is. He does not need psychic protection and he is not a Trump figure who needs constant validation to feed his ego. Gonna be a great season!

  3. Let’s be clear. The only way things get weird around the 49ers this season is if Trey Lance isn’t the player San Francisco expected him to be, and the team is losing.

    Agree. If this is a 50/50 team he will keep playing.
    If it is 0-5 from the start, it will be a lot harder to keep him in.

    1. 0-5, the team would need to look for a change even if the backup was Suds. There is no controversy having Jimmy. The controversy is if Trey fails to live up to his selection and handed the reigns of a contending ready team. That’ll rest directly on Shanahan and Lynch for their lapse of talent judgement.

  4. Hi,
    There a two aspects: The behavior of Kyle and how much he supports Trey in releasing the pressure. Here I am with you and I agree to that.
    The other thing is background noise, and indirect pressure. There is a bigger competition as with Brock and Nate. And some people even referred to Joe vs Steve some decades ago. When Trey calls his parents, friends, when he reads news, there will be pressure. I think Trey has performed well in last years win or go home situations, so I believe he can handle that – but there is a risk he cannot stand that pressure.
    One aspect here is: If you ever go to playoffs, finals and especially to the Super Bowl – you have to be heavily pressure resistant. We have seen many QBs in the last year that played a super season, without any competition on the position, but in Playoffs they lost the games and they played really bad. That can only be because of external pressure. That’s why I believe, if the QB in the 49ers roster, with that media and roster pressure survives it and delivers, he is ready for the playoffs!

    * Games #1 and #2 are against the Bears and Seahags and should be 9er wins.
    * Games #3 and #4 are against the Broncos and Rams.
    * Games #5 and #6 are against the Panthers and Falcons. Also games the 9ers should win.
    * After 6 games, we should know if Tray Lance is who JL and KS thought he was. If he is, the 9ers should
    be 4W – 2L and if they beat either the Broncos, or the Rams, 5W – 1L and ready for the rest of the season.

    * My biggest concern is NOT Lance, but the O-Line. I’d like to see the 9ers try to talk Center JC Tretter out of retirement and trade for an OT to replace RT McGlinchey, if he’s slow to recover from his quad surgery.

  6. The 9ers should trade for Isaih Wynn Pats right OT. then move McGlinchey inside to OG. It should take 3 to 4 weeks to acclimate McGlinchey to his new position. Giving him time to get his knee rehabbed. An O line of Williams, McGlinchey , Brendel, Burford and Wynn sounds a whole lot better than the current lineup. Both McGlinchey and Wynn will be FA’s after this season giving the 9ers one season to evaluate McGlinchey at OG. Has any heard whether Williams will play against the Bears. I have read that he is suffering from an “illness”

    1. I think the fact that the 49ers did absolutely nothing along the offensive line and actually allowed the position group to get much worse from last year speaks volumes. We didn’t advance to the Super Bowl last season because we got killed in the trenches late in the game.

      Then the offseason comes around and they knew a couple of these guys would walk, but the organization had zero plans to replace them.

      I still don’t get the plan to invest $$ in a cornerback above the O-line. The defensive backfield late last year was quite serviceable. The O-line sent us packing late in the NFC Championship game, and they knew going in it would get worse.

    2. Coach,
      Just a hypothetical, but if Belichick would want Jimmy G in a trade scenario, do you think that JG would be open to this?
      That fact that the 49ers broke their pattern of carrying 2 QBs rather than 3, makes me a little skeptical that the FO might be working on something concerning Garoppolo behind the scenes. Perhaps, part of the trade talk might include Wynn. NE (imho) would be a great landing spot for Jimmy – again, just hypothetical thinking.

        1. Coach,
          I agree. Jimmy would essentially be going home.
          Receiving Wynn in a possible trade scenario would work fine with me and looks like a win, win for both sides.

    3. OldCoach
      * Wynn is 6′ 3″ X 313 Lbs. Not ideal for an NFL OT….More likely an OG?
      * Wynn will earn a fully guaranteed $10.413 million in 2022 via the fifth-year option the N E exercised last season.
      While the 9ers could afford it (after $18 Mil JG savings), I doubt they will spend that much on an OG.

      * Overview by Lance Zierlein:
      Wynn is a talented, technically sound block-winner with a demeanor that offensive line coaches will love. His athleticism allows for quick advantages as a run blocker while his hand strength and footwork helps him sustain those advantages into open running lanes. His plus pass protection will be appealing to teams looking for help in that area and he is capable of sliding out to tackle in an emergency. He appears to have the technique and play traits to overcome any concerns about size and could become an early starter.

      1. GEEP,
        I had Wynn (going to 49ers) on many of my mock drafts leading up to the draft some years ago. With the 49ers Oline in a minor flux, signing an Olineman like Wynn could be a big help in solidifying this area of need. The current line of thought is that McGlinchey will be ready by game one, but even if he is, we don’t know if his play is sustainable. There would need to be some shuffling on the Oline to eventually work Wynn into the starting lineup, but this would be a small price to pay for a player of Wynn’s talent.

        I agree with you, that the 49ers would likely not pay as much for an Olineman. But, personally, I don’t see a more glaring positional area of need as the Oline.
        Of course, all this stems back to my original hypothetical scenario if Belichick is interested in bringing JG back to NE. For all I know, this could be the furthest thing from Belichick’ mind.

      2. Geep,
        Wynn was NE’s left tackle and graded out well. Once the Pats resigned Trent Brown the Pats moved him to RT. He isn’t huge but he is a very solid OT, while with McGlinchey problem with keeping weight on he might be a better fit at OG. Normally I would agree with you regarding the 9ers not wanting to pay that much for an O linemen not named Williams but this O line is terrible and this is not normal times. imho

  7. I don’t really agree with your assessment. Having Jimmy on the team is a major personnel mistake. The only way it works out well is if Trey is the next coming of Patrick Mahomes and the 49ers start out 10-0 so people forget Jimmy G is on the roster. Any struggles with performance, even if the team has a good record, and there will be an entirely unnecessary QB controversy. If Trey is terrible and the team is 0-5 then that’s an easy call to play Jimmy G. If the team is 2-3 and Trey is having a bad day with poor accuracy then everyone from teammates, to coaches, to media, to fans will be calling for Jimmy G to come in for a relief appearance. Even if the 49ers are 4-1 but Trey is not playing well then you still have a QB controversy. If Trey Lance is really Shanahan’s guy then Jimmy G shouldn’t be on the team. Trey Lance is going to struggle. Those growing pains are inevitable. Once Trey does struggle and you insert Jimmy G in a game due to Trey’s performance then Trey Lance is no longer the answer at QB. You just absolutely destroyed your investment. Signing Jimmy G is a short term gain for long term pain proposition and it’s a stupid personnel move – unless the plan is to trade Jimmy which doesn’t seem likely given Sudfeld’s departure.

    1. I think it will turn out just fine in the QB room. Jimmy seems totally on board based on his comments of late.

      Trey is likely not the next coming of Mahomes. No one is. They’ll still be successful if he’s above average. They have been thus far with Jimmy when healthy.

      The O-line is a much bigger question mark than the QB room.

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