The San Francisco 49ers began the Trey Lance era in uninspiring fashion, losing a home game to the Chicago Bears. The second game was off to a better start before the Lance era effectively ground to a halt for the time being. Lance suffered what is believed to be a season-ending ankle injury, opening the door for Jimmy Garoppolo to return as a starter.
Rumors swirled when Lance went down and Garoppolo took over. A lot of people think that the coaches and players prefer Garoppolo to Lance. Michael Silver, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, certainly holds this opinion. He wrote that although no one associated with the franchise will say it, many believe they are a better team with Garoppolo under center.
Two anonymous sources even told Silver that they couldn't publicly say anything on the matter, but that the reporter could.
There was a feeling around the NFL that Garoppolo's restructuring meant that San Francisco felt they might need him at some point this year. They wanted to give Lance the keys to the offense, but needed an insurance policy if he faltered. With Lance's injury, that insurance plan seems like a wise move.
How the Trey Lance era with the 49ers sputtered to a halt
Lance was running things a lot more smoothly than in the soaked-field game against the Bears before suffering the ankle injury. It will require surgery that may cost him the entire season.
Garoppolo took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in the 2019 season and then the NFC Championship game in the 2021 campaign. Regardless, the front office decided to hand the reins to Lance. They tried to trade Garoppolo before ultimately restructuring his contract to remain in San Francisco as a backup.
He was forced back into action on Sunday and performed fairly well. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Seattle Seahawks. There was a sense around the league that the 49ers would feel pressure to start Garoppolo if Lance faltered. There was already some discussion after their loss to the Bears.
Had Lance continued and faltered later in the season, the calls might have been louder. Instead, Garoppolo gets to start without the 49ers having to bench Lance, which might ultimately be a better situation. It also provides Garoppolo the chance to play himself into a great contract, whether with San Francisco or elsewhere.