Despite speculation Jimmy Garoppolo might not remain in San Francisco after draft weekend, the quarterback still is atop the depth chart. The 49ers used the third overall choice on Trey Lance, the heir apparent.
The question now, though, is: When will the 49ers hand Lance the reins?
CEO Jed York said he’s comfortable with Lance sitting and watching awhile, perhaps two seasons.
“We’ve talked about this internally,” York told Matt Maiocco on 49ers Talk. “If we’re in a situation where Jimmy goes out and takes us to a Super Bowl again and has an MVP-caliber season, and does it again, there are worse dilemmas to be in. And Jimmy certainly has the ability to do that.
“Knowing it’s the most important position in sports, and it’s great to have a guy that you do believe in and has gotten you to a Super Bowl. So you don’t have to put the weight of the world on a rookie, whoever it was we were going to choose. And now that we know Trey is here, you don’t have to put the weight of the world on that kid’s shoulders. And he can grow into that position.”
Instead, the weight this season falls on Garoppolo. At the first misstep, the job is Lance’s.
Aaron Rodgers‘ MVP season in 2020 likely changed the Packers’ timeline for when they planned to play first-round choice Jordan Love. Garoppolo has never even made a Pro Bowl much less won an MVP award, but he has started in a Super Bowl.
“If he doesn’t play until he’s 23, but he’s got a 15-plus year career …” York said of Lance. “There were rumors about a guy, and obviously Kyle [Shanahan] talked about [the phone call made to the Packers about] trading for Aaron. How long did Aaron sit? Two or three years before he played? And, again, I want to make sure that we do everything we can to make sure that position is the best it can possibly be in the NFL.”
Lance started only 17 games at North Dakota State, so the 49ers’ best case scenario could be for Garoppolo to keep the rookie on the bench. At this point, though, Lance’s future is in Garoppolo’s right arm.