49ers Have Plan to ‘Unleash’ Rookie QB


Getty Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers.

The San Francisco 49ers are set at the quarterback position between veteran Jimmy Garoppolo as their projected starter and rookie Trey Lance right behind him.

But how do they plan to make the transition from the college level to the NFL run smoothly for Lance?

On Sunday’s morning episode of SportsCenter, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler answered that question:

“I’m told San Fran spent much of the OTAs and minicamp working on Trey Lance’s mechanics, making sure things were compact,” Fowler said via Riley Gates of 247Sports. And the reason is they wanted to get that down so that in training camp they can unleash the full arsenal. They can show him off as a runner.”

While Lance played just one game during the 2020 COVID-19 season, he made a name for himself in 2019 which kept him in the QB rankings. That year, he threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and no interceptions, while also rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. His athleticism and ability to be a dual-threat is what stood out to head coach Kyle Shanahan and the reason they traded up to No. 3 overall for him.

“They don’t want to put him in harm’s way and have him take too many hits. But they love the dimension he can bring to Kyle Shanahan’s attack because they couldn’t do it with Jimmy Garoppolo. They could do it with Lance as a runner and a passer.”

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Shanahan Is Contradicting Himself

The 49ers tried really hard to trade for another veteran QB over the offseason and when they couldn’t, they traded up six spots for a rookie one instead.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan can repeatedly say that Jimmy G. will be the starter next season, but nobody seems to be completely sold on it yet, not even himself.

“I definitely see it as Jimmy’s the starter,” Shanahan told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami, “But if Trey’s ready to compete, I have no problem with it. I don’t sit there and say, ‘Hey, we’re not playing a rookie quarterback. We have to rest him the first year.’ … I don’t really make any decisions like that until I actually have an opinion on it. And that’ll take to how I see him in camp. If he comes in and he’s playing at a high level and we think he gives us the best chance to win, we wouldn’t hesitate to do that.”

Shanahan noted that it’s hard for any rookie QB to standout over a vetted signal-caller like Garoppolo. But then he contradicted himself by saying he “has no problem” with Lance starting if he comes ready to compete at camp.

TE George Kittle Calls Lance a ‘Freak’

49ers’ star tight end George Kittle, who has been team Garoppolo since before the draft, had nothing but praise for the rookie backup.

“I think Trey has all the attributes to be a very good, very special quarterback,” Kittle said, per the team’s website. “He’s a freak athlete. I think really one of my favorite things about him right now just as a rookie, is that he takes risks. Like, he doesn’t complete all the passes that he throws, but he’s trying to fit into those small windows. And he’s just trying to throw it as hard as he can to get it to that wide receiver going through maybe the second window. And I think that’s really fun to see a guy take risks.”

Kittle also said that Garoppolo has a “fire lit” beneath him and has had the best OTAs performance he’s ever seen from him.

Whether or not Lance is the team’s No. 1 option this season, he certainly is their future plan and Kittle seems to be on board with it.


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