49ers QB battle: Jimmy Garoppolo throws INT, then Trey Lance is up and down

The only remaining question for the San Francisco 49ers is if Trey Lance's great plays will be worth the inevitable rookie mistakes. There have been plenty of both in the preseason.

Both of Lance's preseason games have been roughly the same. If you just watched the highlights, you'd believe he should start from Week 1 on. If you watched his worst plays, you'd wonder how the 49ers could ever consider starting him this season.

When the San Francisco 49ers move to Lance as their starting quarterback at some point this season, the inconsistency will be the risk. Lance's talent is obvious. He had some marvelous plays in Sunday evening's preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers. But the uneven nature of both his preseason games is a warning that it might not always be an easy road.

It won't always be that easy with Jimmy Garoppolo either, but he's more of a known commodity.

Both QBs throw an INT

Neither 49ers quarterback got a ton of help from San Francisco's receivers early on.

Garoppolo's first drive ended with an interception. It wasn't all his fault. Brandon Aiyuk should have come down with it. But the throw was too high, it caromed off Aiyuk's hands and was picked off. A better throw likely would have been a sure catch.

That was it for Garoppolo. He was 3-of-6 for 15 yards. There was nothing impressive, but we know what Garoppolo is by now.

Lance had a couple poorly placed passes early, one of which was intercepted. After Deebo Samuel had a pass behind him go through his hands, Lance threw a little high to Mohamed Sanu Jr., the ball went off his hands and was intercepted. Later in the first half, Wayne Gallman dropped a quick screen pass from Lance.

Lance came to life near the end of the first half. He hit Trent Sherfield for a long pass, and ended the drive with a short touchdown to Sanu with 12 seconds left. Then Lance showed off his mobility on a 2-point conversion run, even though it was called back due to holding. He also had a nice run on a second-and-6 in the third quarter, picking up a first down.

Lance had a few beautiful passes during his second series of the third quarter after going three-and-out on the first series. His 16-yard touchdown to Travis Benjamin was a rifle throw. That arm strength is a big reason he was the third pick.

There has been good and bad with Lance. Will the bad might keep him from starting right away?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) throws during his second preseason game. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) throws during his second preseason game. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Trey Lance has been inconsistent

Lance had a great start to his first preseason game. He threw a great 80-yard touchdown. Then he got a little hurried and didn't finish well. Drops didn't help him in that game either. Then the second preseason game was about the same.

Whatever argument you make for Garoppolo vs. Lance, you had the evidence you needed on Sunday. Lance looked indecisive at times. He was wildly inaccurate on a few throws. In those moments he looked like a rookie. There was no shortage of social media posts pointing out how bad he looked. Then, starting with the fine drive at the end of the first half, there were plenty of posts lauding his playmaking ability. Lance finished 8-of-14 for 102 yards and two touchdowns, with a few impressive plays.

Lance, the third pick of the draft, is the future and will be the present before long. Teams don't trade up for the third pick to get a quarterback and then sit him all season. A change will be made at some point. But the 49ers haven't really opened the door to Lance unseating Garoppolo by Week 1. At times Lance has looked great. Lance's mistakes might keep Garoppolo in the job by default, for a while anyway.

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