The San Francisco 49ers Are Tossing out the Dual QB Excuse to Delay Trey Lance’s Inevitable Takeover

San Francisco 49ers‘ General Manager John Lynch has given word his team will feature both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance at quarterback this season. Garoppolo is the incumbent who brought San Francisco to the Super Bowl two years ago, while Lance is the franchise’s future. Apparently, the 49ers will employ the dual quarterback system, at least to start the year. That’s a cop-out. The team is only using it as an excuse to delay Lance’s inevitable takeover.

It’s a matter of when, not if, Lance will be behind center in San Francisco. The franchise traded three first-round picks to Miami to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 to take Lance. After the trade, the team doesn’t have a first-round pick until 2024. The 49ers mortgaged the future on Lance, and he will be starting games for the team in 2021, apparently earlier than most expected.

San Francisco GM John Lynch announced the 49ers would run a dual QB system to start 2021

49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan went into the preseason saying that Garoppolo would be the team’s starter in week one. Jimmy G has started 48 NFL games in seven seasons and brought San Francisco to the Super Bowl in 2019, starting all 16 games that season and leading the team to a 13-3 record. He has a significant experience advantage over Lance. It made sense that he would start the season for the Niners.

If Garoppolo owned the starting job throughout training camp and the preseason, this debate wouldn’t be happening. The only reason it is happening is because Lance has thrown his hat into the ring with a strong case to play. Dual-quarterback systems often earn the phrase “if you have two starting quarterbacks, you don’t have any.” In this case, it would seem, the 49ers have one starting quarterback they’re trying to protect.

The dual QB system is an excuse to delay Lance’s inevitable takeover of the franchise

Trey Lance of the San Francisco 49ers waits to call a play after replacing Jimmy Garoppolo during the first half of a preseason game.
Trey Lance of the San Francisco 49ers waits to call a play after replacing Jimmy Garoppolo during the first half of a preseason game. | Harry How/Getty Images

Lance — despite being 21 years old with 19 games of experience under his belt with North Dakota State at the FCS level — has clearly closed the gap throughout the preseason. From a pure talent standpoint, Lance has a heavy advantage over Garoppolo. He’s apparently shown enough flashes of that talent during the preseason to weave his way into QB1 contention. The former Bison started slowly, completing just 5 of 14 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in the Niners’ first preseason game, according to ESPN. He did, however, throw an 80-yard bomb for his lone touchdown.

In the team’s second preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Lance improved, going 8-for-14 for 102 yards and 2 scores. He’s also dazzled at times in training camp. That all led to Lynch refusing to answer a question about the team’s starter, instead seemingly confirming a two-quarterback system to begin the year.

Trey Lance’s time is now, San Francisco just doesn’t want to admit it


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With this excuse, San Francisco placates both parties and says all the right things. Garoppolo has been tipped to start since Lance was drafted. He will. The 49ers traded everything but the kitchen sink to Miami for the right to take the 6-foot-4, 224-pound signal-caller. The more talented Lance has apparently shown enough to deserve an opportunity to start as well. So he will.

This all ends the same way it was going to from the beginning. Lance will take the reigns in San Francisco as the franchise’s future, and he’s going to. With the dual-QB excuse, though, the Niners can have their cake and eat it too. It’s time for the rookie to take over, and the two-starting-quarterback excuse is proof that the franchise is ready right now.

All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference, unless otherwise noted.