Kyle Shanahan Didn't Exactly Give a Ringing Endorsement of Trey Lance

Trey Lance isn't getting much love from Kyle Shanahan.
Trey Lance isn't getting much love from Kyle Shanahan. / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

When the 49ers mortgaged their future to move up to the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they did so with the intention of selecting their quarterback-of-the-future.

The way 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan sounds now, that future may be distant, far more distant than anyone could have imagined when they made that trade.

Shanahan, being asked about current 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's future with the franchise, didn't sound confident in Trey Lance's ability to earn the starting role over Garoppolo this year or the future.

Lance was the No. 3 pick in the 2021 draft, and while it was expected it would take time for him to develop after playing in the FCS and sitting out all of 2020 amidst COVID, a top 3 pick riding the pine multiple years is not normal.

Now, you can say Shanahan was just referring to this season, and that would make sense. Garoppolo has played at a high level over the last few weeks and the 49ers are winning. They're in the playoff hunt. No need to shake things up now.

But 49ers beat writer David Lombardi indicated Shanahan's comments aren't just about this season. He believes it could extend to next year as well.

In fairness, a lot of this is reading between the lines. Shanahan didn't say Garoppolo WOULD be with the team in 2022 nor did he say he WOULD be the starter. But saying it will be hard for Lance to beat Garoppolo out for the job is not what you want to hear about a quarterback picked third in the draft. After all, you'd have to assume Patriots QB Mac Jones would be starting over Garoppolo currently, and perhaps Bears QB Justin Fields would be too. (Both rookies were picked after Lance.)

Lance did start a game this year and looked overwhelmed. He completed only 51.7% of his passes, was intercepted once and didn't score a TD in a 17-10 loss to the Cardinals. He did run for 89 yards in the game and threw 2 TDs in relief of Garoppolo the week before. But that doesn't divert from his horrific passing performance against the Cards. Since then, he hasn't thrown the ball once and has only run the ball three times.

Perhaps Shanahan is lighting a fire under his rookie's backside. Perhaps he wants to challenge Lance publicly to win this job. Many thought he would do so in preseason, but Jimmy G took home the starting role. Now, roughly three months after that, it doesn't sound like Lance is any closer to winning the starting role. The fact that his head coach said as much publicly is surprising too.

Regardless of how you interpret what Shanahan said, this is not a ringing endorsement of Lance. In fact, it's the opposite. Now we'll see if Lance rises to the occasion or becomes a massive bust for the 49ers.

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