When the 49ers report to training camp in Santa Clara on July 27, all eyes will be on the starting quarterback competition featuring incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie first round draft pick Trey Lance.
There have been conflicting reports from the 49ers this offseason regarding where each player stands within the organization. The front office has pushed the narrative that it will take a wait-and-see approach to ensure Lance is ready before thrusting him into action, however there's been separate reports that the 49ers plan to unleash Lance during training camp to show off his full arsenal.
One of the biggest aspects of the offseason that has been underreported is the continuing conflicting reports about the 49ers starting quarterback position. That begs the question how closely aligned are 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, General Manager John Lynch and CEO Jed York regarding the impending quarterback competition? All reports from the 49ers have been that the team is aligned going into the season but there have been several instances throughout the off season that indicate a divide.
Lynch has been a steadfast supporter of Garoppolo ever since the 49ers acquired him in 2017 via trade. This offseason, Lynch has continued to praise Garoppolo’s ability and stated that he is the starter of the 49ers and has remained in the team’s plans for the upcoming season. He also reiterated that the 49ers would not rush Lance to play until he was fully ready to help the 49ers contend for a Super Bowl.
Next there’s York who seems to have taken a step back from the limelight, which is unusual for him. York was reportedly not informed who the 49ers were going to draft until the day before they made the pick, which is hard to believe. He also went on a media tour advocating that Garoppolo is the current 49ers starting quarterback and Lance could sit on the bench for one or two years in order to fully develop.
Last, let’s take a look at Shanahan. To fully understand where he's coming from, we must take the last couple of seasons into account. Shanahan has repeatedly seemed frustrated with the play of Garoppolo on the sidelines during games. He has also oddly praised opponents quarterbacks regularly as well as former 49ers back ups Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard.
Shanahan rarely has thrown that type of praise toward Garoppolo. A telling sign is Shanahan’s demeanor during the 49ers pre-draft press conference that he forced his way into, which is irregular to say the least. He not only repeatedly stated that the 49ers were in the market for a starting quarterback, he seemed visibly perturbed at what was discussed during the final 49ers draft prep meeting.
This seems to fly in indirect opposition to the 49ers company line that Garoppolo was the starting quarterback and any quarterback drafted would be a backup while developing.
Lastly, Shanahan’s stance on the quarterback competition or lack thereof has evolved quickly. It began with him declaring that Lance is not ready to compete for the starting QB position, to Lance has fully learned the offense and is now ready for a quarterback competition in just two short months.
It will definitely be interesting to witness how the competition will unfold during training camp. Will Lance be thrust into the limelight with his future star potential on full display, or will quarterback Garoppolo be the steadying presence that the Super-Bowl-contending 49ers roster will lean on to open the season? This leads one to wonder, are the 49ers coaching staff and front office on the same page or is there some trouble brewing in paradise?