One of the biggest storylines ahead of the season is the quarterback battle between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Whoever becomes the starter could be the difference between a deep playoff run and a mediocre season. Of course, it is unclear who will play second fiddle for the San Francisco 49ers this year.
With Garoppolo hoping to retain his spot and Trey Lance having his own admirers, head coach Kyle Shanahan will need to pencil in one of these guys come Week 1.
Trey Lance versus Jimmy Garoppolo: Student versus master
For starters, let's get acquainted with Trey Lance's numbers. In two games, Lance has completed 13 of 28 pass attempts for 230 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. In his first game, Lance had an 80-yard touchdown but failed to keep that momentum going.
In his second game, Lance had two touchdowns and one interception that came from a dropped pass.
Basically, the tape shows a quarterback who had a rough debut in his first game but showed flashes of brilliance. The second game showed a player learning the game but looking like a starter-quality QB. He was accurate in his second game and had little trouble in the redzone. As far as rookies go, Lance looks really good.
Ol' faithful Jimmy Garoppolo has also seen plenty of time in the preseason thus far. In two games, Garoppolo has completed six of nine passes for 41 yards and an interception. The interception was the result of a dropped pass in almost identical fashion to Lance's interception.
Garoppolo didn't lose the game, but also didn't deliver any deep strikes. He attempted them in the second game, but Garoppolo had issues with deep accuracy. It's nothing new and hasn't changed since he overthrew Emmanuel Sanders in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.
After an unimpactful two games, Garoppolo may be feeling a little hot under the collar. However, the job has been his to lose. Some fans believe Garoppolo is primed for a big year. That belief, though, needs to be unwavering come Week 1.
Garoppolo vs Lance: verdict
Garoppolo has the experience but Trey Lance has simply outperformed him in preseason. He has earned more yardage, shown more promise, and appears to be improving with every game. Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo was the same quarterback he has been for the last few years.
At this point, Lance seems to have the edge. If the competition were conducted in a vacuum, Lance would be the winner. However, once you look at the bigger picture, Lance will only have the chance to sit and perfect his craft one time. The next few months could make or break his career. If he starts too soon, there are no second chances.
There will be tape on him and defenses will start catching up to his game. While Lance has played well in two games so far, there is little evidence of whether he has enough moves in his arsenal to keep defenses on their toes. By holding him back, even though he is an upgrade over Garoppolo at the moment, the 49ers will give Lance a chance to find long-term success in the NFL.
What helps Lance succeed helps the 49ers succeed, which means the best move is to hold him back for as long as possible this year. Lance could walk into the job as the starting quarterback next season and have a Mahomes-esque breakout. Who knows?
However, this year, Garoppolo should retain the reins to give Lance as much time as possible. Garoppolo is a starting quarterback in the NFL and is still the 49ers' best shot at a deep playoff run. No matter which quarterback is officially anointed as the starter, 49ers fans should be in for an exciting 2021.