Are the 49ers ‘Betting on the Upside’ With QB Trey Lance? Troy Aikman Thinks So

Drew Brees Trey Lance

Getty Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers.

Troy Aikman, the legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback who was once looked at as the archnemesis of the San Francisco 49ers during Dallas’ heyday in the 1990s, had a mouthful to say about ‘Niners quarterback Trey Lance during a May 16 conference call with the press.

The new analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” shared his thoughts on his formal rival team’s quarterback situation — the one revolving around 2021 first-round pick Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo.

‘There’s a Reason Why They Took Him Where They Did’

While the Hall of Famer said he found himself “pulling for” Garoppolo, he said he was uncertain whether the 30-year-old quarterback would be able to play because of a torn ligament in his right thumb.

“The quarterback situation is interesting. I watched (Lance) last year after he came in and played. I studied him,” Aikman said, via The Mercury News. “I was unsure of whether or not he’d play in the game we had late in the season, and I saw some things that made you realize that, hey, this is why this guy was taken where he was, then you saw at other times, you saw a young quarterback that had a lot of growth left ahead of him. This offseason and how he’s used it is going to go a long way into what kind of success he’s going to have.

“I don’t know Trey. I’ve not met him. But from everything I hear, and in talking with [49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan], there’s a reason why they took him where they did. They’re betting on the upside. My guess he’s working extremely hard this offseason, to give himself the best opportunity for success.”

Heavy Hitter Doesn’t Think He’s Ready

Of course, there are those who don’t think Lance, 22, is ready to pull his weight as starting quarterback just yet, which is why San Francisco is still holding onto Garoppolo as he recovers from his March 8 shoulder surgery, according to a May 16 story on 49ers Webzone.

And a 49ers icon — Super Bowl champion quarterback Steve Young is one of them.

Young went on “The Rich Eisen Show” on May 16 to share his thoughts.

“One thing about Trey that everyone has to understand is that he has not played a lot of football — in general,” said Young, who played for the 49ers from 1987 to 1999. “And a lot of things that you figure out in college over the years is just marking receivers and understanding what your arm can do. Just things that you figure out [from] reps and doing it over and over.

“When they say he’s not ready, it’s because there’s not that body of work of him being on the field. They see what’s on the field — like amazing talent, an amazing arm and all the things, but there’s so much more to quarterbacking. So when someone says he’s not ready, it’s easy to say because he hasn’t done it.”

While the Hall of Fame quarterback said he had confidence in Lance, he mentioned something that troubled him.

“Now, what I do worry about — but it’s still early, so I don’t know — is his sense of accuracy,” Young said. “The sense of, ‘My brain knows where to go with the ball, but my arm’s not necessarily cooperating.’ And that’s the biggest … as we get into the Trey Lance issues, that’s the issue that I really want to focus on this summer and as he gets into the fall, playing. … Because I do believe that he has the ability to kind of find the open guy, and the processing power you worry about. He has that.”

In six games last year, Lance completed 57.7% of his 71 pass attempts. Garoppolo, meanwhile, 68.3% of his pass attempts, good for sixth in the league.

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