Which 49ers Quarterback Should Start Week 1?

This quarterback controversy has split the fan base and created extremely fiery debates.
Publish date:

The San Francisco 49ers made one headline after another this offseason, and the majority of the news focused on the quarterback position. This quarterback controversy has split the fan base and created extremely fiery debates. Right now, it's about who should start Week 1.

Let's take a step back and think about why the 49ers needed a new quarterback. Is it just because Jimmy Garoppolo is unable to stay healthy? No. That is just a minor fraction of the thinking behind it.

Even most of the loyal fans do not recognize that they were subconsciously looking for an upgrade. When the 49ers announced that they are moving up to the No. 3 spot in the draft, the social media storm started. 

49ers fans were utterly enraged that a media narrative was created about Mac Jones being the better system fit for Kyle Shanahan. If the 49ers drafted Jones, it would have been interesting to witness the backlash. The 49ers fans demanded a mobile quarterback.

If you're still not convinced the 49ers were looking for an upgrade over Garoppolo, review Shanahan's comments regarding the quarterbacks. Shanahan publicly expressed how fascinated he is with Kirk Cousins, suggesting Cousins is a great quarterback. And he could not suppress the excitement when the 49ers drafted Trey Lance. The comments about Lance's maturity, comparing Lance to a CEO, clearly indicate what Shanahan desires.

The 49ers front office always remained solid on how much they believe in Garoppolo. They keep saying that Garoppolo is the starter and refer to his record.

But there is no way to determine what the 49ers front office actually is thinking. It is not the obligation of the organization to share everything. They have to operate in the best interests of the organization. So we need to decipher on our own. 

Just a few hours before the NFL draft, everyone was shocked to find out that Aaron Rodgers wants out from Green Bay.

The media connected the 49ers to virtually each quarterback move during the offseason, but officially the organization never acknowledge any of them. Ironically, both Shanahan and Lynch admitted to checking with the Packers on Rodgers. If Packers were to go ahead with the trade, trying to guess the nature of the deal is complicated, but it is safe to assume that the trade scenario had no room for Garoppolo as a backup quarterback.

Even when it appears most of the fanbase is leaning toward the idea of having a mobile quarterback who can reveal the full potential of Shanahan's offense, rooting for Garoppolo to start Week 1 is puzzling.

How Garoppolo's limitations cost the Super Bowl is a point addressed many times. Let's study a comparable situation. 

In the NFC championship game of the 2020 season, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur elected to kick a field goal in a fourth and long situation when Green Bay trailed 31 to 23 in the fourth quarter with merely two minutes left. We all know what happened next. The Packers never got the ball back, and eventually lost 31 - 26. LaFleur was criticized massively for kicking the field goal instead of taking a gamble. Everyone demanded the same answer. 

"Why did you kick a field goal when Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback?"

Let's not try to answer that question, but a different one.

What if the 49ers were in that same situation? Would you blame Shanahan's decision to kick the field goal when Garoppolo is the quarterback? 

The initial reaction to the above is that it is unfair to compare Garoppolo with a future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately, it is not a subject of fairness. It is about possessing an elite quarterback to enhance the chance of winning the Super Bowl. 

Out of 55 Super Bowls played to this date, the winning team had a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback 43 times. During the last decade, only two average quarterbacks won the Super Bowl: Joe Flacco and Nick Foles. An Ordinary player in the most crucial position can demolish the shot at glory.

There is one more argument against Lance starting Week 1, citing that he needs time to learn Shanahan's complex offensive scheme. That argument is logically flawed. In comparison, the Garoppolo trade took place in Week 8 of the 2017 season. By Week 12, Garoppolo started for the 49ers and went on to win five games down the stretch. Lance already spent quality time in training camp while preseason games present the opening to blend in. 

Lance should start Week 1 if he's ready. And if history is any indication, he will be ready.