What Jimmy Garoppolo's 49ers return could mean for Trey Lance

·3 min read

What Jimmy G's return to 49ers could mean for Lance originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers signing Jimmy Garoppolo to a new one-year contract through the 2022 NFL season is a benefit for both the club and the veteran quarterback, but it could mean something else entirely for Trey Lance.

Even though Garoppolo has remained on the 49ers' roster despite saying his goodbye to fans and media following San Francisco's loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, Lance has assumed the role of the franchise’s starting quarterback.

While that QB1 role likely won’t change for Lance anytime soon, the element of Garoppolo on the roster adds extra pressure on to the 22-year-old’s shoulders.

Lance has not had the best offseason heading into his first year as the leader of the 49ers' offense. The second-year quarterback’s completion rate in training camp practices has been under 50-percent and in his two preseason appearances, he completed a total of 11 of his 16 attempts for 141 yards and one touchdown.

Growing pains for a young quarterback taking over a starting position are natural. There is no doubt that if Lance struggles once the season begins, that coach Kyle Shanahan will have patience and not immediately pull him after his first bad decision.

But when there is a quarterback on the team that has taken the franchise to two NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl in three seasons, how long will Shanahan wait with a roster that is primed to win now?

Both Lance and Garoppolo spoke at length during the 2021 season about the lack of awkwardness in the quarterback room with both of them on the team, but it was a natural hierarchy. Garoppolo was the veteran in the driver’s seat while Lance learned while adjusting to life in the NFL.

Lance would not be usurped by Nate Sudfeld after a regrettable performance but there is a possibility that Garoppolo could be the better option down the stretch. If Lance does not meet expectations and develop as projected, Garoppolo could be called upon to take over the reins.

Lance has seemed unbothered after challenging practices and games, taking it all in as a learning experience, but now having Garoppolo on the roster could have the potential to shake the young play callers confidence. If skill players like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk aren’t getting the opportunities on the field they see fit, a desire for Garoppolo to take over the reins could cause a quarterback controversy.

RELATED: Jimmy G's return opens up more questions than answers

For now, Lance firmly is in control of his own destiny. He will get every opportunity to prove he was worth the club selecting him with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft while Garoppolo gets up to speed after not attending any meetings or being in possession of a playbook.

What this situation looks like in a few weeks, however, could be another story.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast