Why Trey Lance Doesn't Need to Beat out Jimmy Garoppolo to Start

Jimmy Garoppolo is the starting quarterback for the 49ers. However, it should not take much for Trey Lance to sway the mind of Kyle Shanahan. Here is why.
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Jimmy Garoppolo is the starting quarterback for the 49ers.

At least, as of right now he is. That very well can change once training camp and the preseason concludes. 

Lance has the next three months to continue to embed himself in the playbook and improve his technique. It really would not surprise me to see him supplant Garoppolo as the Week 1 starter. Kyle Shanahan himself even gave clues to it being a competition in training camp should Lance show enough by then. 

All Lance has to do is beat out Garoppolo and look better than him right?

Wrong. 

Lance doesn't need to beat out Garoppolo to start. 

For Lance to be considered the starter, all he needs to do is match Garoppolo or even be relatively close. As long as he isn't dramatically far off of his level, Lance has a strong case to be the starter. In fact, I would argue that if he is just somewhat off of Garoppolo's level that he should start. Roll Lance out there and let him work through his mistakes. He needs to start his growing pains as soon as possible.

Otherwise, his cost-effective rookie contract will have wasted a year away sitting on the sideline watching Garoppolo. What exactly can Lance learn holding a clipboard? Now the biggest counter to this has been the "Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes" model, but Garoppolo is NOT Smith. This point needs to be stressed. Lance would benefit learning behind Smith. What can Garoppolo teach Lance? Oh I know, he can teach Lance not to pre-determine his targets pre-snap.

As much as being Super Bowl contenders is the dream for 2021, it comes secondary to the development of Lance. Getting Lance into the fold immediately kickstarts his development so that the 49ers can be dominant in the long-term. That is how they have operated since Shanahan took over. They think a few years ahead, not solely in the present. It is why this team is setup to be elite for years to come should Lance reach his potential.

Plus, Lance is walking into a superb situation with the 49ers. He has elite receivers to throw to, his blindside secured, an electric running game, phenomenal play-caller and a stout defense that can get him extra possessions in a game. Considering that, it is practically a CRIME to let Lance sit on the sideline. The last time a rookie quarterback stepped into a loaded offense was Dak Prescott. How did that workout? If anything, Lance is in a stronger position because of his head coach.

The 49ers must not squander the first year of Lance's rookie contract. All the rookie quarterbacks who ended up sitting behind another and ended up being successful were outliers because they had strong talent in front of them. Garoppolo is not a strong enough talent to delay the growth of Lance. 

If Garoppolo does end up starting Week 1, then the 49ers will find it difficult to implement Lance. The only options at that point would be an emergency fielding of Lance when Garoppolo gets injured or puts up a stinker of a performance. Being thrown into the fire like that isn't the ideal situation for Lance to get his feet wet. 

Regardless, all of this is all on Lance to sway the mind of Shanahan until then.