Immense pressure is on the shoulders of Trey Lance this season.
Having to follow up an NFC championship appearance in his debut season as the full-time starter is no easy feat. And the fact that the 49ers gave up multiple first-round picks to get him along with taking a red-shirt year, Lance is expected to be good this season.
It’s going to be tough for him to live up to those expectations, but it isn’t impossible. Lance has one of the best play-callers in the league in Kyle Shanahan and is surrounded by superb talent. There is no better situation for him, or any other second-year quarterback, to step into. The situation is so great for Lance that he could be incredible from the jump.
And should that occur, he’ll definitely be in the running for the Most Valuable Player award. DraftKings sportsbook has the odds for Lance to win the award at +5000, so he’s a massive underdog. No one on the 49ers has received the award since Steve Young in 1994.
So what chance does Lance have at winning MVP in 2022?
Zero. The scenario where he comes out firing on all cylinders is an unlikely one. I fully expect Lance to have his struggles and take a while to really find his stride. The 49ers will still be good offensively, assuming the offensive line is fair, so Lance’s struggles won’t be too much of a hindrance. I mean, the 49ers were able to overcome some of the errant play from Jimmy Garoppolo. I’m sure they can do the same, if not better, with Lance since they’re the same squad as before.
Now, Lance would definitely be in the MVP talks if he’s lighting it up like Patrick Mahomes in his second-year. But for that to happen, Lance will have to consistently be the driving force of the offense. It isn’t so much that I think Lance specifically won’t be able to do it. Kyle Shanahan is the factor that hurts his chances just as much as the potential struggles Lance will face himself. The 49ers will still be a run-first offense. It wasn’t solely because of Garoppolo that Shanahan favors running the ball. That’s just his style. He loves to dismantle and punk a defense with the ground game by cramming it down their throats.
Shanahan is not going to be pass-first with Lance, especially not early on. Even if Lance looks good early on, it’ll take some games for Shanahan to feel comfortable with letting Lance be the gunslinger for the offense. I fully expect him to call the offense to protect Lance initially and slowly work his way up depending on how Lance looks.
MVP isn’t plausible for Lance in 2022, but perhaps it will be in the coming years for him.