Trey Lance’s performances will determine how far the San Francisco 49ers go during the 2022 NFL season. Yes, the second-year pro and first-year starting quarterback is surrounded by one of the more talented supporting casts, but he’ll still need to make plays when it counts from football’s most important position.
General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are gambling Lance will deliver. It’s why they named him starter ahead of incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s also why they traded two first-round picks to draft Lance third overall in 2021.
Starting Lance is still a risk, though, because if he can’t make the grade as a starter, he’ll waste the Super Bowl window of an otherwise title-worthy roster. Fortunately, one analyst who knows a thing or two about quarterbacks is backing Lynch and Shanahan’s gamble.
This noted QB whisperer has made a bold prediction about how Lance will fare this year, an exciting claim backed by one personnel executive.
Former 49ers QB Sees Big Things Ahead for Lance
Jordan Palmer, a former backup passer for the New York Giants and 49ers now co-hosts a quarterback-centric YouTube show called The Room. He’s also spent time as a “go-to” private coach for various signal-callers around the NFL, including Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen, as well as Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, according to ESPN’s Ben Baby.
Palmer is more than qualified to pass opinion on Lance, and he told Heavy’s NFL Insider Matt Lombardo the Niners’ new starter will eventually “look like a top-tier quarterback.”
Lance’s ascension to the ranks of the game’s premier quarterbacks will take until “midseason,” according to Palmer. The brother of former Bengals, Raiders and Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer also thinks Lance is “going to miss some throws, and he’s going to make some spectacular throws.”
That last note has the ring of authenticity based on some of Lance’s struggles during training camp. He threw three picks during a recent practice session, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco:
Days like those have to rate as a concern for a raw passer still trying to master the full mechanics of his trade. The 49ers can’t afford to wait too long for Lance to get it right. Not when players like wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle are good enough to win a Super Bowl.
Of course, the flip-side is the presence of Samuel and Kittle should make it easier for Lance to thrive. That’s how Palmer sees things after telling Lombardo: “I think Trey’s stats will be really good. With that defense, and the scheme they’re able to put together, and the personnel … I think Brandon Aiyuk is going to have a breakout year. He’s still got George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. I’d expect for Trey Lance to have a really big year. I really expect Trey to miss some throws, and to make some spectacular plays.”
It’s a sentiment shared by others around the league.
Lance Deemed ‘Safest Bet’ for Breakout Year
A current personnel exec. from an NFC team told Lombardo Lance is the “safest bet” for a breakout season because he’s surrounded by talent. There’s plenty of merit to this view given how stacked the 49ers are on both sides of the ball.
Aside from Samuel, Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and left tackle Trent Williams on offense, the defense should again be among the toughest in the game. The toughness starts with a loaded line featuring Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw, a group that protects ace middle linebacker Fred Warner.
Things are arguably just as strong in a secondary where Talanoa Hufanga, Jimmie Ward and Charvarius Ward hold sway. Lance shouldn’t find himself in many shootouts this season, although there’s reason to believe steady points won’t be hard to come by for the 22-year-old.
Those reason is the presence of Shanahan, perhaps the most creative designer of plays in the league. Shanahan has proven especially adept at helping mobile quarterbacks succeed.
His schemes turned Robert Griffin III into an instant star in Washington back in 2012:
That experience can’t be minimized now Shanahan is building his offense around Lance’s dual-threat skills. Shanahan will scheme play-action throws, moving pockets and read-option concepts to keep defenses guessing and give Lance easy reads.
It’s a potent combination that’s worked in the past and offers the best chance for Lance to quickly reach the level Palmer has predicted.