Being successful in business requires taking risks. Those risks sometimes pay off tenfold. Other times they blow up in your face.
During the 2021 offseason the 49ers felt a change was needed to get a sixth Lombardi Trophy. The organization had a capable roster. Unfortunately, the most important player on the team could not stay healthy to get them over the top.
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan decided to take a risk.
On March 26, San Francisco sent three first round picks and a third rounder to the Miami Dolphins for the third pick in the draft.
The 49ers chose Trey Lance.
So far the risk hasn’t paid off.
During training camp as a rookie, Lance wowed everyone on hand with big plays. The rookie showed off his arm and athleticism while making plays not seen on the practice field in Santa Clara in many years.
While on a radio interview prior to the first preseason game, Lynch proclaimed Lance was “pushing Garoppolo.” Lance went out and fired an 80-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield on the 49ers second offensive possession.
The sky was the limit.
Shanahan followed up the performance by giving Lance more opportunities to show what he could do with the starters. Instead of continuing to climb, Lance leveled off and the team chose to go forward with Garoppolo.
In week four, Lance was thrust into the middle of a tie game against Seattle after Garoppolo could not return due injury. The 49ers offense sputtered along and San Francisco fell 28-21.
A loss against Arizona followed the next week, the offense with Lance at the helm once again unable to find any rhythm. To make matters worse, Lance suffered a knee injury.
Lance would get another shot late in the season. This time he made the most of it.
In a must win week 17 contest against Houston, Lance hit his stride late in the first half helping the 49ers to a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Despite the performance, Shanahan turned the reins back to Garoppolo for the regular season finale and postseason.
Heading into year two, the 49ers handed the keys over to Lance.
After a training camp and preseason full of uneven performances, Lance was met with bad conditions for week one in a loss to Chicago. Near the end of the first quarter against Seattle the first week, the quarterback went down with a severe ankle injury.
A year of much needed development for the young quarterback out the window.
Without Lance, San Francisco turned back to Jimmy Garoppolo and won six of their next nine. Garoppolo would go down with another injury, the story of his career, and was replaced by rookie Brock Purdy.
Purdy wasted no time doing what Lance was unable to do the year before, taking the opportunity and turning the league on its ear.
With Purdy at the controls San Francisco averaged over 30 points per game on the way to the NFC championship game.
By going 7-1 and completing 151 of 224 attempts for 1,877 yards, 16 touchdowns with just three interceptions, Purdy took the job.
However, a torn UCL has placed Purdy’s availability in doubt and left the door open for Lance to get another chance.
Speaking from the NFL owner’s meeting on Tuesday, Shanahan said, “the good thing for him (Lance) is with Brock being hurt, he has an opportunity to regain that (the starting job).”
This is the final opportunity for Lance to fulfill the potential San Francisco saw when they risked so much to get him.
“Trey Lance has a super high ceiling,” said George Kittle during a recent interview on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast. “There’s so many things that he could do. He has an unreal arm. He has this mobility. He’s a big guy, he can run the ball.”
Heading into his third NFL training camp, it is time for Lance to decide his fate in a 49ers uniform. If the former third overall pick is truly the guy San Francisco thought they were getting, he will go out and take the starting quarterback job and run with it.
For San Francisco, it’s one last chance to see their risk pay off.