The San Francisco 49ers are set to embark on a new era during the 2022 season. The Trey Lance era is set to begin, as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is set to take over as the team’s starting quarterback.
Lance will be replacing Jimmy Garoppolo, who was acquired from the New England Patriots on October 31st, 2017 for a second-round pick that turned into Kerryon Johnson. He has been the starting quarterback since then but has struggled to stay healthy.
Garoppolo has appeared in 46 games, starting 45 of them, since being acquired in a trade. He started double-digit games only twice and the team advanced to the NFC Championship Game both seasons he was able to stay healthy. However, they were unable to get over the hump and win the Super Bowl, as they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020.
The team is hopeful that Lance will help them get over the hump. He is a more dynamic offensive player than Garoppolo with the ability to churn out yardage with his legs as a rusher. He is far from a finished product, but the 49ers knew it would take some work with Lance coming to the NFL out of North Dakota State.
While the results were mixed at best when he stepped into the lineup as a rookie, expectations are still high. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice has been with the 49ers recently and he has been impressed with Lance.
“Trey Lance, I think he’s ready to go,” Rice told KSBW TV, via 49erswebzone.com, “and I think he’s incredible because he has that one aspect that Jimmy (Garoppolo) doesn’t have, and that’s the threat of running with the ball and stuff like that. So his mobility, his strong arm, and this guy, he’s before his time.”
Defending the 49ers’ offense will certainly be more difficult with Lance under center compared to Garoppolo. Garoppolo was essentially a high-level game manager for San Francisco, but Lance has the skill set to be a true game-breaker.
“I was running routes for him,” Rice told NFL Network. “It didn’t take me long to really be on the same page with him. He’s got that rocket arm, but he’s also got that mobility and that vision where he can extend plays and throw the ball downfield.
“I’m sure, with repetitions on the field, the players really just building around him, he’s going to have a successful year this year.”
Keeping Deebo Samuel in the mix would certainly benefit Lance, as Samuel emerged as an elite talent offensively last season. There are still other weapons to get excited about such as wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, tight end George Kittle and running back Elijah Mitchell should Samuel move on.
But, in an ideal world, Samuel will be in the starting lineup, providing Lance with a true No. 1 option at wide receiver in the passing game.