49ers Analyst Raises 1 Burning Question About Trey Lance

Trey Lance

Getty Kyle Shanahan and Trey Lance converse after a 2023 game.

While former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance could get his shot with the Dallas Cowboys, a burning question remains in the Bay Area.

Sports Illustrated “All 49ers” writer Grant Cohn posed the question “wouldn’t Lance be better” than Josh Dobbs as the potential main backup quarterback. Lance, the No. 3 draft pick in 2021, didn’t live up to the hype, and the 49ers turned to Brock Purdy as the starter in 2023, which led to Lance’s exit.

“The 49ers used to talk about how strong their quarterback room was. It would be much stronger now if it still had Lance in it,” Cohn wrote.

San Francisco signed Sam Darnold as the main backup in 2023, so the 49ers traded Lance away for a fourth-round pick to the Cowboys. Lance sat on the bench all season, but his opportunity could arrive in Big D if the Cowboys part ways with Dak Prescott after 2024 with contract talks at a stalemate and rumors swirling.

Meanwhile, Darnold left San Francisco in free agency after the 2023 seasons, which left Brandon Allen as the only other backup. Allen has nine career starts with a 2-7 record, and Dobbs, who signed this offseason, has a 3-11 record in 14 career starts.

While Lance didn’t inspire confidence as a future franchise quarterback, he had a 2-2 record in four career starts. His 2022 season got cut short due to an ankle injury, and he served as the backup behind former starter Jimmy Garoppolo in 2021.

“No one on the 49ers missed Lance last season because Purdy stayed healthy and played well. But head coach Kyle Shanahan never has kept a starting quarterback healthy for two seasons in a row — he has a long history of getting quarterbacks injured,” Cohn wrote.

“Which means the 49ers are one play away from Joshua Dobbs or Brandon Allen starting games for them. And both of them may be decent backup quarterbacks,” Cohn added.

Neither Josh Dobbs nor Brandon Allen Has Proven Long Term Success

Maybe is the key word for both Allen and Dobbs. In backing up Joe Burrow with the Cincinnati Bengals, Allen completed 61.5% of his passes for 1,096 yards and seven touchdowns versus four interceptions in 12 games.

Dobbs has more recent starting experience with the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals in 2023, but he had mixed results. With the Cardinals he went 1-7 and completed 62.8% of his passes for 1,569 yards and eight touchdowns versus five picks.

His Vikings stint went much better at first, and he even captured the nation’s attention before his play plummeted in a four-pick performance against the Chicago Bears. Overall, Dobbs went 2-2 as he completed 62.9% of his passes for 895 yards and five touchdowns versus five picks.

Lance’s brief NFL numbers include a 54.9% completion rate for 797 yards and five touchdowns versus three interceptions. He’s also less than five years removed from his dominant 16-0 season at North Dakota State in 2019.

Running Ability a Real Mixed Bag for Josh Dobbs

Dobbs has a running dimension to his game, and he showed flashes of success, but he also had 14 fumbles in 2023. Lance has one career fumble, and Allen only has two.

However, Dobbs’ rushing numbers included 421 yards and six touchdowns on 77 carries, an average of  5.5 yards per attempt. That’s better than Lance’s 4.4 yards per carry for his career with no touchdowns superior to Allen’s 1.9 yards per attempt and no scores in his career.