Why Trey Lance move hasn’t worked out for 49ers, yet

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.

This article has 19 Comments

  1. We shall see what the future holds but Lance has been injured a lot, seemingly just as much as that other guy who now plays for LV Raiders.

  2. It continues to amazing me how Kyle Shannahan is never implicated in the mishandling of Trey Lance. Not only was Kyle’s playcalling for Jimmy G (short passes, quick reads) ENTIRELY different than it was for Trey Lance (read options, run the ball like a full back, quick passes over the middle)—it consistently put Lance in harms way at a much higher rate and didn’t emphasize Lance’s strengths. Lance is not Lamar Jackson, he’s a mobile pocket passer with a big arm, loves play action, and can stretch the field. So while Lance’s injuries are bad luck, in part, a good portion also falls on Shannahan’s inability to develop QBs and refusal to call plays to suit Lance’s strengths. Instead, Kyle used him like Tom Rathman. Smh.

    1. KS had to do with at least a little of the development of BP from Mr. Irrelevant to undefeated playoff QB

    2. Oh gosh! Do we have to go thru this nonsense again. Please explain how you are qualified to know the right scheme for Trey. Don’t forget that Trey was drafted to fit into Shanahan’s scheme like the rest of the players on the team.

  3. Moving on from Lance would be tantamount to throwing in the towel. And the 49ers would have given up on a player that has not had the ample opportunity to prove his value.

    There are two more reasons why trading Lance at this point is premature, imo.
    1. There’s no guarantee that Purdy will play at last year’s level post elbow surgery.
    2. Believing that Darnold could be the answer as the #2 or a #1 if Purdy is injured could be fool’s gold.

    I will respect whatever decision the 49ers make on Lance, but it’s hard to believe that they will trade him without giving him a fair opportunity to prove himself.

    1. I completely agree with you and expect Lance will have every opportunity to prove himself. However, during his first 2 training camps he hadn’t shown much. What do they do with him if he doesn’t show much improvement for his 3rd training camp and doesn’t separate from Darold?

      1. They have a difficult decision to make with Lance. Trade him now while he still has some value (I have heard a 1st and a 2nd. I have also heard a 2nd and a 3rd) Hang on to him and he continues to flounder and has no value. Lastly hang on to him and he shows the talent they drafted him for and either he unseats BP and the 9ers trade BP or the 9ers are able to trade Lance possibly for more than they could now. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision. If I absolutley had to make the decision I would trade him now if I could receive a !st and a 2nd or a 2nd and a 3rd. My main reason would be because I don’t see the speed and elusiveness that they drafted him for.

        1. Coach,
          If a team is willing to give a 1st and a 2nd it would be a done deal for me. But, (imho) giving up that much for an virtually unproven player is a big risk. But that’s a very tempting offer.

          1. AES,
            It seems like a lot to me also but a couple of sports writers have guessed at those numbers.

            1. I don’t doubt you Coach, re the reports.
              For my part, if a team is willing to make that trade, I’d jump on it, but wouldn’t take anything less.

              There’s only four scenarios that can come about in such a trade.
              1. Lance becomes a star for another team.
              2. The draft picks the 49ers receive become stars.
              3. The trade becomes a wash if both parties aren’t satisfied.
              4. 49ers fans have a fit if Trey becomes a major star elsewhere and the 49ers new draft picks never work out.

              As “55Niners” said, “it’s all a crap-shoot.”
              Maybe that’s just part of the world of football.

              1. I think I would go for a 2nd and a 3rd if the 2nd was between pick 33 and pick 43. Maybe I am panicking but I see RT as a real problem for the 9ers. The kind of problem that could lose them a couple of games and maybe a couple of QBs. I don’t think they are likely to find a starting RT in the end of the 3rd round. I would love to see them pick up a starting RT and eventual LT with an early 2nd round pick and then another developmental OT in the 3rd round who could eventually become our starting RT.

              2. Coach,
                If the 49ers can garner a high 2nd and mid 3rd rd picks, with a Lance trade, the two Olinemen that I like (in that draft range) are Cody Mauch (early 2nd rd.) NDSU, and Blake Freeland, (early – mid 3rd rd.) BYU.
                Mauch could make a strong bid to be the day one starter and Freeland could be the top depth Olineman off the bench as a rookie.
                PFF gives both players a 90.9 rating which is very high.

                But even with that, I’m still leery with moving Lance at this point. It’s a broken record, but we don’t know what Lance is capable of doing until he puts together a string of games. The only question is, are the 49ers willing to give him that opportunity?

    2. I agree, my biggest concern with Trey is whether he is injury prone. I do think he has the talent and mindset to be a top tier QB, but consistent injuries have killed the careers of many promising QBs.

      1. Mark,
        I hear you. But aside from the major injury that sidelined Lance last season, he only missed one other start in 2021. For my part, that isn’t enough to qualify him as being injury prone.
        Jimmy G, earned the injury prone label because except for the 2019 season, he had a hard time playing through a full season as a 49ers starter.

        Unfortunately, Lance will always be measured by all the capital the 49ers gave up to draft him. He may never live that down, and what makes it even more unfortunate is that he may not have the chance to prove himself to justify his draft position. I hope that the 49ers have not lost patience in him.

        1. AES,

          Yeah, I think it’s unfair to judge him based on the draft capital given up to get him. That’s on the 9ers front office. Any QB that had as little experience in college and the pros as he has had would struggle, but the team is really in a quandary with how to get him that experience while still competing at a high level. I feel for the kid…

  4. e RT as a real problem for the 9ers. The kind of problem that could lose them a couple of games and maybe a couple of QBs. I don’t think they are likely to find a starting RT in the end of the 3rd round. I would love to see them pick up a starting RT and eventual LT with an early 2nd round pick and then another developmental OT in the 3rd round who could eventua you are rgtht TelenovelasTV

  5. The kind of problem that could lose them a couple of games and maybe a couple of QBs. I don’t think they are likely to find a starting RT in the end of the 3rd round. I would love to see them pick up a starting RT and eventual LT with an early 2nd round pick and then another developmental OT in the 3rd round who could eventually become our starting RT

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