The San Francisco 49ers have their quarterback of the future in Trey Lance, but there appears to be backlash over the team’s decision in 2022.
Besides the likes of NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger saying the 49ers made a “mistake” by drafting Lance instead of trading for Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford, there’s been NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana stating that Lance isn’t “ready” to start in 2022 after learning behind Jimmy Garoppolo in 2021.
The latest to add to the questions heading Lance’s way is current ESPN analyst and former Pittsburgh Steelers star Ryan Clark. A recent moment from Clark on NFL Live was highlighted by Jordan Elliott, who was “confused” by the former NFL safety’s opinion regarding Lance in comparison to the other QBs taken in the 2021 NFL draft.
“I know there are things that we look at [with] guys like [Chicago Bears QB] Justin Fields, [Jacksonville Jaguars QB] Trevor Lawrence and [New England Patriots QB] Mac Jones,” Clark said. “We understand they need improving, but they were good enough for their team to say, ‘We can win with you out there, and it’s time to have you there, not Trey Lance.’ Maybe he can’t throw? Maybe he’s not as accurate as you need a quarterback to be.”
As Elliott’s Tweet infers, Jones was the only quarterback to achieve a winning record with his team, only to lose 47-17 in the Wild Card round. Meanwhile, Fields and Lawrence went a combined 5-22 as starters in 2021.
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49ers Fans Sound Off
The clip of Clark’s take caught fire on 49ers Twitter, with many expressing their criticism with the opinion. For most, fans said that Lance played well in his brief opportunities in 2021.
“Honest question: Did Lawrence, Fields, or Wilson have a single game that was as good as Lance’s 2nd career start?” @SantaMonicaMM replied. “Clark is acting as if we’ve never seen Lance play. We did. He started a bit rough, and finished looking very good and very much in command of the offense.”
Per PFR, Lance completed 57.7% of his passes for 603 yards and five touchdowns with two picks, while rushing 38 times for 168 yards and a TD. @nathblightning4 pointed out that Lance, who is just 21, was expected to sit due to his lack of college experience and age and that’s led to hypocrisy.
Another criticism of Clark’s opinion that was prevalent in the comments was that the 49ers had what other teams didn’t: a veteran who nearly got them to the Super Bowl.
“@Realrclark25 such an awful take,” @FieldGeneral5 Tweeted. “You named 2 teams that were absolute garbage. The 49ers were a dropped int away from the SB. Jimmy was always going to be the guy.”
Montana Thinks 49ers Need to Stick with Garoppolo
As mentioned above, even team legends like former 49ers QBs Steve Young and Joe Montana have commented on the quarterback situation for San Francisco. From the latter’s perspective, his conversations with those in the organization have told him that the Niners need to stick with Jimmy G.
“I think they keep Jimmy until you find somebody else,” Montana said in an interview with The Ringer. “I don’t think Trey’s ready to play yet, as myself and after talking to some of the players. I think it’s one of those things that if you can keep Jimmy healthy, he plays well enough to get you [to the Super Bowl.]”
It will always be a “what could have been” with Garoppolo’s health and the 49ers’ Super Bowl chances, although it’s clear what Montana thinks would have happened.
In the meantime, 49ers fans will have to wait and see how the team begins the 2022 offseason and what comes next for Garoppolo and Lance.