Why Jimmy Garoppolo has to Mentor Trey Lance

When it comes to mentoring Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo doesn't really have an option.
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Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starting quarterback for the 49ers.

That is, of course, unless Trey Lance makes major strides to prove to Kyle Shanahan that he should be the starter. Until then, the presumption is that Garoppolo will be the Week 1 starter. This means that Lance will be trying to learn and acclimate himself behind Garoppolo.

On his own, Lance isn't really going to see major development, especially if he is just holding a clipboard. That is where Garoppolo comes in to try and mentor him as he has already stated that "whatever I can do to help him, I'll be more than happy." Good on Garoppolo for that. He should definitely be credited for taking that approach correct?

Wrong. Garoppolo HAS to mentor Lance. 

It does not matter if he is the starter or ends up relegated as Lance's backup, 2021 is a make-it-or-break-it year for Garoppolo. His value is not solely based on his availability and performance, but how he fairs with Lance waiting in the wings. If Garoppolo is just negligent to Lance, or even as far as being unprofessional, then his stock plummets. Garoppolo would essentially be damaging his image, which would be a cause for concern for teams that could be interested in him after 2021. 

Take Alex Smith for example, since plenty of people believe the 49ers are taking the Chiefs' "Mahomes/Smith" approach. Had Smith not been professional, had he not been forthcoming to Mahomes and helped him, the Washington Football team would not have traded for him and signed him to a new deal. He would have had to settle for a free agent contract of significantly less value. 

Just imagine how that would be for Garoppolo, who is not the same caliber of player as Smith was. Garoppolo has to do everything he can to market his value. Showing his aid to Lance would make him a strong leader and teammate that any team would appreciate in its locker room. If he ends up playing well in 2021 as well, then Garoppolo could sway a team to give him a sweet deal. 

Mentoring Lance behooves Garoppolo. Everything is already stacked against him as it is with his lack of availability and more often than not average performances. Plus, Garoppolo owes it to the 49ers. They gave him a lucrative deal when he hadn't really proven anything and stood by him through his injuries. It is just that the 2020 season proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

Garoppolo mentoring Lance all starts in training camp. Lance will be gunning for his job, so it is on Garoppolo to ensure he pushes Lance and sets the bar for what it will take to dethrone him as the starter.