The 49ers spent the capital of three first round picks and a third round pick on Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft. They then decided to sit him for the guy they chose to replace with him. If it sounds confusing, it should. This is like betting the house and then deciding to not include your flat screen in said bet because "it was too risky."
The 49ers made sense of this nonsensical decision by selling the fan base on the notion they are in "win now" mode. This was a championship roster they believed, one that couldn't be held back by a rookie signal caller. With the plan in place if the 49ers missed the playoffs, the season quite literally would be a disaster. One that would have fans in an uproar in the upcoming offseason and deservedly so. Most likely jobs would be shifted or lost and the future of the franchise would be in serious doubt.
If the 49ers had it their way, a healthy Garoppolo would have played all 17 games. Unlike every other first round rookie quarterback, Trey Lance was asked to be the primary backup for his organization. Imaginations ran wild with every big time throw Justin Fields made or every win the Mac Jones led New England Patriots piled up. Social media filled with take after take about how Lance was the wrong pick, overpriced and a project that would take years. Did Kyle Shanahan even want Lance? Would Garoppolo have to stick around another year? Fans speculated.
Week 17 with the season on the brink, the rookie would take the field as the lead signal caller. Nervous excitement started to fill the fan base as they anxiously awaited answers to all the questions they were seeking. With each big time throw, Lance began to answer questions that had risen for eight months.
Nearly every conversation that was had about the San Francisco 49ers centered around Lance from the moment he was drafted. Under the building pressure of the playoffs, expectations, questions and doubts, Lance delivered. In the blink of an eye Lance became the franchise quarterback that fans hoped or doubted he could be.
49er fans, your minds can rest easy in knowing, at least for now, that the 49ers did in fact get it right at pick No. 3 in 2021. Luckily for the 49ers, the same kid who stole the spotlight last offseason, has saved the narrative in the upcoming offseason. Regardless of the outcome in Week 18, Trey Lance, like an umbrella in the rain, has provided the 49ers organization the cover it desperately needed.