A two quarterback system is on the horizon for the San Francisco 49ers.
In Tuesday’s practice, the 49ers implemented both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance for the same amount of reps with the first- and second-team in the simulated portion of practice. This was definitely something that hadn’t been done until that day, which started the idea that perhaps the 49ers are going to use a two quarterback system. Kyle Shanahan has already stated that Lance will play this year and it has been shown in their practices.
Could the 49ers use a two quarterback system for the whole season?
Only if Garoppolo manages to hold onto his role as the starter. The odds of that happening feel slim to me. Either Garoppolo is going to play himself out of the role or he is going to sustain an injury. Regardless, Lance becoming starter seems inevitable this season. And once he claims that role, then the two quarterback system will go away.
The way the 49ers are going about this is like platooning in baseball or even basketball with the rotation of the bench. No team utilizes this type of system. The Saints are the main team that comes to mind when thinking of this system. Although, the dynamic between Garoppolo and Lance versus Drew Brees and Taysom Hill is dramatically different. Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel sounded enthusiastic about utilizing both quarterbacks this season.
“Most teams don't have two good quarterbacks. And so, the benefit is you can really do with players, things that they're really good at. And as long as you have the right unit, that's willing to work together, which we do, the right organization, the right people, where it's all about the 49ers winning football games, you just really try to problem solve what's the best way. And it's literally that simple. And so, the benefits to us is really that we can utilize skillsets from everyone and do it in a manner that everyone can cohesively play together.”
That is true. Most teams don’t have two quarterbacks. However, as cliche as it is to say, if you have two quarterbacks then you have none. I saw my friend Jordan Elliott of Niners Nation tweet this and it perfectly sums up what is wrong with the way the 49ers are going about this.
McDaniel makes out their potential two quarterback system to be easy, but really they’re going to have to do it differently than the Saints. Lance cannot always be in for a read-option plays like how he’s been restricted to mostly when he is in with the starters at practice. That will just ruin any way of keeping defenders on their heels because the offense will become predictable. If the 49ers can execute this, which it will take creative planning, then their offense will have a new variation that stresses defense.
Where I pivot on this is that I don’t believe it is a manageable offense for a whole season as it can take Garoppolo out of rhythm, which is really the only way he is able to turn it up a notch. Shuffling in quarterbacks can just ruin the flow of the offense, so while the ceiling may feel like it raises by incorporating both quarterbacks, it also raises the ceiling for more risk, including injuries. This isn't a procedure the 49ers should be following deep into the season.
At some point, the 49ers will need to ride one quarterback and one quarterback only.