Decrypting the 49ers Quarterback Situation

The front office is giving mixed signals. Lets try to understand what they really mean.
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Grant Cohn asked Kyle Shanahan what he would gain by not naming starting quarterback in a recent media presence. Shanahan swiftly responded, questioning whether there would be any positive outcome by doing that. The 49ers quarterback story unfolds every day like a soap opera. There are certain times it does not make any sense at all. 

Let us try to address few points related to the situation.

Shanahan's newfound love for Jimmy Garoppolo

Recently, my wife told me she has decided to buy a fancy doll for our daughter. Buying a new toy that your kid asked for is not weird, but this one cost $50. I reminded my wife that after a couple of days, the doll would take its due place at the toy bin in the room. As I predicted, my daughter was back playing with her old dolls within a week.

That is how I feel Shanahan is dealing with Trey Lance at times. In the past, Shanahan could not disguise his frustration with Garoppolo's production. He was generous in feeding the media with Mathew Stafford's story, which made, "When Garoppolo plays, we win" a mere PR statement. It does not matter how much Shanahan wants to pump up Garoppolo's value or try to make the best of the signal-caller this season. Still, the NFL world knows what exactly Garoppolo brings to the table.

You can try to bring a different narrative in this situation to say the 49ers had planned until 2023 with Garoppolo. But no team would spend three first-round picks and another pick to draft a rookie to make a competition in the quarterback room. Shanahan looks determined to improve Garoppolo instead of giving Trey Lance the best opportunity to grow. John Lynch revealed that Shanahan designed a play for Lance during a flight. Then it is hard to explain why Shanahan delayed Lance taking reps with 1st team.

Did the 49ers ever consider what they would do if Garoppolo lost the quarterback competition?

Shanahan said there is no quarterback competition at the beginning of the training camp. That is not precisely what the front office communicated through the offseason. During the day 49ers moved up the draft board, Lynch stated that Garoppolo would have the opportunity to compete for the starting job. When we compile all the messages together, it is evident that there is competition. The 49ers should have been aware of that situation before drafting the rookie quarterback.

The answer to the above question is critically important due to the hefty contract Garoppolo has. If Garoppolo loses, the competition 49ers are left with backup making $27 million. Many capable backups such as Mitchell Trubisky were available if the 49ers were to make an actual move.

How bad can Trey Lance be?

Steve Young made a strong statement last week on why he thinks Lance should be the starter. His argument is solid. Lance should not have to beat Garoppolo to be the starter. The question 49ers should ask is what the floor of Lance is? Is it at the same level as Nick Mullens and C J Beathard? We all know Lance can perform better than that. That should be a reason enough for the 49ers to go ahead and start Lance.

Out of the quarterbacks drafted in 2021, Mac Jones and Trey Lance stepped into the best environments that a rookie can be in. They have excellent coaches, good defense, and an explosive run game. The situations the 49ers are in give the perfect opportunity to hide Lance's deficiencies early in his career. There is no need for Lance to carry the team on his shoulders this early.

The two-quarterback system

Everyone refers to the New Orleans Saints in this topic. Saints indeed used Drew Brees and Taysom Hill. Still, you need to understand the situation is way different in 49ers. To begin with, Garoppolo is not at the elite level of Brees. Lance is a top prospect 49ers invested heavily. The gap between Brees and Hill as players was immense. For anyone making this argument, it is worth noting that Jameis Winston is named the starter over Hill for 2021.

The two-quarterback system can do more damage than the good. The 49ers need a solid starter for the future. If the 49ers are delaying the development of Lance, they might waste valuable time.