Date is March 26th, 2021. The San Francisco 49ers have just made a blockbuster deal with the Miami Dolphins. It appears Kyle Shanahan will finally get his quarterback and fans are elated.
But elation soon parlays into frustration as the national media collectively plants a flag in Mac Jones being the pick. It is easy to see why they believed Jones would be the guy. Jones has "Shanahan quarterback" written all over him: Anticipation, accuracy, decisiveness along with solid on-field decision making. Media would sell many that not only was Mac Jones a lock to be the pick, but with those attributes he would be the Day 1 starter.
Today, 49ers fans are likely in the midst of another national media myth. This one is more of a whisper than a pounding of the table. See, today you are being told that Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starter Week 1. Much like the media storm created in the weeks preceding the 2021 NFL Draft, reading the tea leaves will point to this notion being false.
Below I will lay out very clearly the media spin vs reality.
Media Spin: If Jimmy Garoppolo had remained healthy, the 49ers would not have looked elsewhere this offseason.
Reality: Shanahan has been extremely clear through body language, facial expressions and even verbal communication that he is easily frustrated by Garoppolo's on-field play.
Media Spin: Trey Lance doesn't have enough experience to play immediately.
Reality: Trey Lance, much like Mac Jones, started 17 college football games. Unlike Mac Jones, Trey Lance is mentally mature beyond his years. At 19, Mac Jones was making questionable off-field decisions. Trey Lance at 19 had a near perfect season, albeit at the FCS level.
Media Spin: It takes a minimum two years to learn all of the nuances of a Kyle Shanahan offense due to its complexity.
Reality: Jimmy Garoppolo started and won five straight games just four short weeks after arriving in Santa Clara. Trey Lance came from a complex offense in its own right at North Dakota State. One, according to his quarterback coach Sean McEvoy, that gave Lance full control. From protection changes to audibles, Lance did it all while learning play calls that are verbose.
Media Spin: Jimmy Garoppolo is a veteran who has led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and has the heart of the locker room.
Reality: Despite having an experience edge on Lance, Garoppolo has not proven to show on-field veteran tendencies. He often is a slow decision maker who fails to protect the football. These weaknesses led Shanahan to take the ball out of Garoppolo's hands as the team made its way to the Super Bowl in 2019. Second year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk worked with Lance before rookie mini-camp broke and veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is currently working out with Lance as he resumes with his personal quarterback coaches. In recent weeks, a vital leader on the offense and staunch Garoppolo supporter George Kittle has not only had great things to say about Lance but has vacationed with him as well.
If you are still on the side of the national media, look no further than the schedule to start the 2021 season. Week 1 at Detroit and Week 2 at Philadelphia. Lions and Eagles combined for just nine wins in the 2020 campaign. Both teams finished dead last in their divisions; both teams have also hired first-time NFL Head Coaches. If nothing else, let a guy who would proudly tell anyone who would listen that Lance was the pick all along proclaim why the national media has it wrong yet again.