(KPIX)- The San Francisco 49ers are hoping for a bounce back season in 2021 after finishing in the bottom of the NFC West in an injury plagued 2020 season. Whether or not they get there will be determined by the state of their quarterback play.
The team made a big swing this offseason, trading up in the NFL Draft to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State with the fifth overall pick. Throughout the preseason, head coach Kyle Shanahan said that Jimmy Garoppolo was the starter, but Lance continued to be mixed in with various packages and opportunities with the first team offense. Then, in the final preseason game, the two were essentially rotated plays against the Las Vegas Raiders.READ MORE: South Bay Congressman Welcomes Afghan Refugees Arriving in Fremont
While drawing conclusions from how starters are used in the third preseason game is often a fool’s errand, the usage of the two quarterbacks will continue to be a topic of discussion until a definitive answer is given one way or another. For The NFL Today analyst Boomer Esiason, rotating the two quarterbacks shouldn’t cause too many issues for the offense though he admits, it’s a situation he wouldn’t be happy with.
“First of all, if I were in the middle of this thing and it were me, I would not be happy with it. I would want to be the defined, No. 1 quarterback for the team whether I’m Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo. Problem with Jimmy Garoppolo is that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. That’s one of the reasons they went out and got another quarterback. When he (Kyle Shanahan) does decide to interchange them within the game, I don’t see why that would be a problem there in San Francisco,” Esiason said on a conference call.
“Trey has only played 17 games in college so he is really a novice coming into the NFL. They saw something in him to take him that high and they do believe in him,” Esiason continued. “So, if they had a small package of plays for him throughout the game and utilized different aspects of his game that are different from Jimmy’s right now, I don’t see how that hurts the team but all I know is that if I were, the No. 1 quarterback, I’d always want to be on the field.”READ MORE: 4.3 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Los Angeles
Esiason’s fellow analyst on The NFL Today, Phil Simms, says he expects the rotation of the two quarterbacks to continue until Shanahan feels that Lance is in command of the whole playbook.
“It’s a fact, they’re going to rotate. Are they going to do it like they did in that last preseason game, I don’t think they’ll do it like that,” Simms said. “I can see Trey Lance coming in sometimes and just handing the ball off and going out. I think one thing we learned is I don’t think Kyle Shanahan is sitting there going ‘wow I trust Trey Lance with the whole playbook’. So, I think when he comes in it’s going to be very scripted, under control and I don’t think a lot of those throws will be over the middle where he had a lot of trouble in the preseason.”
The biggest thing for the 49ers and their coaching staff from Simms perspective is having the patience with the rookie quarterback to give him time to build confidence.
“You have to be careful and just slowly build this thing up and when the times comes, I would expect Trey Lance when they feel really comfortable with him, he’ll be the starting quarterback out there in San Francisco,” Simms said.MORE NEWS: San Francisco Mayor Defends Criticism After Video Catches Her Dancing Maskless at Night Club
Lance suffered a finger injury in the final preseason game putting any plans of rotating or adding him into the game plan as part of a package on hold as the team is being cautious with the rookie’s recovery. What that means for Week 1’s matchup with the Detroit Lions remains to be seen.