All signs point towards the San Francisco 49ers going full-steam ahead with quarterback Trey Lance as their starter for 2022 and the future.
After Jimmy Garoppolo kept the starting quarterback spot in 2021, the 29-year-old has issued a goodbye and will more than likely be traded this offseason. Committing to Lance is the plan, which means setting him up for success this upcoming season is imperative.
Typically, building around a quarterback prompts thoughts of drafting offensive lineman to protect and receivers or tight ends as weapons. However, legendary 49ers quarterback Steve Young has a different idea.
The three-time Super Bowl champ went on KNBR’s Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks to chat about the rookie. One signing that the former Niner stressed was someone to both lead and compete with the young QB.
“I think Trey is so raw,” Young said “With the number of snaps he’s had in college, it should be very obvious to all of us that there’s just not the pure number of snaps, and it’s so much about — I’ll call it metering the position, just all of it that you figure out in college from playing tough ball games. The fact is that didn’t happen very much… I’m a big fan of [putting] somebody around you that can push you. So, I’m not looking to not do that, but more than anything, he needs someone older who can tell him ‘this matters’ or ‘this doesn’t matter.’ ‘You better be on this one,’ and if you’re not on this one, teach him how to study and how to memorize.”
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Young Speaks on 49ers’ Chances in 2022, Future
Don’t mistake Young’s take for him thinking Lance can’t be the guy or a sign the 49ers need to look elsewhere. It’s just a matter of making sure he has guidance going into his second season, while also giving the Niners the best chance to win with the current roster.
Young thinks this roster cannot be wasted, and he’s got a good point. Beside star names like wide receiver Deebo Samuel and defensive end Nick Bosa, there’s a roster that just nearly made the Super Bowl.
“This is a team, this is a roster, that can win Super Bowls, and you’ve seen it. It is absolutely a roster that we should be the best passing game, the best running game, and that middle nine defenders we have? Top of the league. So, let’s go do this. Take a few months off, [then] let’s go do this.”
QB Names 49ers Could Look At
Young’s idea is good, but who could the Niners legitimately sign? Per his description, it needs to be a veteran who’d be up to backup Lance, but San Francisco will also want someone with enough ability to win if Lance is injured or benched.
There’s no shortage of names, with free agents like Tyrod Taylor and Jameis Winston blurring the gap between starter quality and backup quality. You also have the “career backups” with more experience like Colt McCoy or Chase Daniel.
But the name that sticks out the most as a blend between veteran experience and one that can play at a high enough level to win is Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater has hopped around the NFL, starting with the Minnesota Vikings, then the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers before most recently playing for the Denver Broncos. In the 2021 season with Denver, Bridgewater tossed 18 touchdowns to seven interceptions in 14 games, throwing for 3052 yards and completing 66.9 percent of his passes per PFR.
There’s a chance that an NFL team will want Bridgewater as a starter. But if not, the QB has the league experience and proven ability to be a perfect presence for Lance to learn from and compete with.