What worries Staley if 49ers' Lance doesn't play perfectly originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Trey Lance remains one of the NFL’s biggest mysteries heading into the 2022 season.
Coach Kyle Shanahan is handing the reins to his 49ers’ offense to the 22-year-old Lance, who is facing gargantuan expectations as a former No. 3 overall pick taking over the huddle of a team fresh off a 2022 NFC Championship Game appearance.
Joe Staley, who spent his entire 13-year NFL career with San Francisco, is a bit concerned for Lance, especially with the experienced Jimmy Garoppolo lurking as the backup on the 49ers’ sideline.
“The thing that I’m worried about is that [Lance is] a first-time starter in the NFL,” Staley said Tuesday afternoon on KNBR. “He’s going to have his rookie mistakes. He’s going to have some situations that don’t look that great.
“What I worry about with the team this year is if he goes out there and doesn’t perform perfectly, are the guys in that locker room all of a sudden going to be like, ‘Hey, we have a team that’s built right now to win. And we have a quarterback that has taken us to where we want to be. Jimmy, we’ve gone to a Super Bowl with him; we’ve gone to an NFC Championship last year with him.
‘Why are we waiting to see and find out and waiting for development?’”
Although he expressed some concern, Staley is confident that Lance will figure things out.
“I personally believe that Trey is going to do really well this year,” he said. “I believe the dimension that he brings to this offense is going to open it up, and I think Kyle [Shanahan] has been waiting for that deep threat, down-the-field quarterback threat that Trey brings. I think that’s going to open up a lot of stuff underneath. And I think he’s going to develop an offensive game plan that’s going to be completely different than what we saw with Jimmy.”
Still, though, Lance’s first full season as an NFL starting quarterback likely won’t come without struggles.
“There’s going to be a couple games, I think, that he’s going to have a couple decisions and a couple of interceptions that are not going to be that great,” Staley said. “That’s where you go back and look at their roster and how it’s been built. George Kittle, Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward -- guys that have been around -- that can keep that locker room together.
“I think that, from my perspective, is something to keep an eye on this year.”
The storylines of Garoppolo dethroning Lance of the 49ers’ starting quarterback job won’t stop anytime soon, even if the second-year signal-caller looks sharp in his season debut Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
With takes flying everywhere around the internet, it’s always good to get the viewpoint from a steady NFL veteran like Staley.