The San Francisco 49ers lost to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday as Russell Wilson made history, becoming the fastest quarterback to 100 career victories. However, Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a calf injury and was knocked out of the game for the entire second half, paving the way for rookie quarterback Trey Lance to step in and finally get his chance to shine.
Lance had two touchdown passes and connected often with Deebo Samuel, who was the recipient of both touchdown heaves from the rookie gunslinger. With Garoppolo’s injury timeline a bit unclear, this more than paves the way for the decision Kyle Shanahan has been avoiding for some time: It is time to name Lance as the full-time starter.
Trey Lance is the guy regardless of Garoppolo’s injury timeline
Yes, this is the move seemingly everybody has been itching for since the 49ers selected Lance third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Unfortunately for Garoppolo, this is yet another injury in his long history — and a frustrating one at that.
After the loss against the Seahawks, Garoppolo spoke with reporters and was clearly upset about the way things went down with his calf (h/t Jelani Scott of NFL.com):
“Been in this situation too many times. It’s getting real old, so just one of those things that’s part of the business.”Jimmy Garoppolo
The early reports have Garoppolo set to miss a couple of weeks, so Lance is going to be the guy until the veteran is ready to return. But regardless of Garoppolo’s health, Shanahan should make the decision to keep Lance as the starter going forward.
Did the rookie play great? No, but he was able to throw for a couple of touchdowns and opened up the offense despite the 49ers coming up short of a victory over Seattle.
The switch to Lance was inevitable, and now is the time to ride the course
The quarterback battle between Lance and Garoppolo was a dicey one all offseason long. The incumbent won the job through preseason and training camp, and rightfully so, but it seemed to be only a matter of time before Lance earned the starting gig.
Lance finished Sunday’s game with a 9-of-18 clip with 157 yards and a pair of scores to Samuel, with one being a 76-yard bomb at the end of the third quarter.
The rookie also added seven carries for 41 yards, and Trey Sermon finished the day with 19 carries for 89 yards as the defense kept guessing about whether Lance would run the ball.
With more preparation and more first-team reps in practice with Garoppolo on the shelf, the North Dakota State product should get more and more comfortable with the offense going forward. This could be the break he was waiting for — although not quite the way he wanted with yet another injury to their team.
Shanahan wasn’t too thrilled with the performance on Sunday from the rookie
Lance came in to start the second half and shot some energy into the 49ers team and their crowd in attendance. But despite his two-touchdown performance, Shanahan wasn’t too thrilled and gave an interesting quote after the game (h/t Cam Inman):
“It looked like a typical first game. … That’s why he’s a No. 2 quarterback.”Kyle Shanahan
That doesn’t exactly show confidence in the rookie signal-caller, which could be a concern whenever Garoppolo is ready to return. Nonetheless, Shanahan has no choice but to start Lance if Garoppolo misses some time.
According to Cam Inman, Garoppolo “has a chance” to suit up against Arizona, which doesn’t bode well for Lance going forward.
With a full week of first-team reps, his first NFL start should be better, although it is against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. After that, the 49ers have their bye week, and Shanahan will likely be tasked with the tough decision of who to start.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.