After last year’s dismal season ended for the defending NFC Champ 49ers, Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the coaching staff had decided to start making some moves. They made sure to improve their o-line by resigning Trent Williams and adding Alex Mack, as well as making sure to keep their depth in the cornerback position with the exception of Richard Sherman, who is likely to not be playing at all this season after his questionable moves off the field. San Fran ended up with a top 3 pick, and decided to roll the dice on FCS star Trey Lance. Leading up to the draft, so much buzz was surrounding what Shanahan would do at the QB spot had they drafted Lance or not, but with the way that Lance has been performing so far at camp, should the Niners lean towards the rookie come Week 1?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of starting Garoppolo and Lance. For Garoppolo, you have a veteran who is coming off of a season-ending injury getting to prove himself. In these types of “proving” situations, Jimmy G has been able to deliver, which is mainly the reason he ended up a starter in SF. Jimmy may not have shown as much promise or potential as the rook, but let’s not forget that he took this team to the Super Bowl after they had a losing season previously. He has the leadership, and knows what it’s like to play in big moments. Starting him may not give Lance the pressure of playing in an NFL right out of the gate, but he’s just the rookie. On the other side, starting the rookie gives him a feel for the game immediately, and he gets an opportunity to show the promise he has so far in camp. If SF doesn’t start Lance, it’ll give him a chance to learn behind Jimmy G, which we’ve seen can be huge for a young QB.
The difference between the 49ers and the rest of the teams that chose top 5 is that they have the talent to be a serious playoff threat right now. Throwing a rookie into this kind of situation puts an immense amount of pressure on him, and if he doesn’t deliver, it’s gonna be time to head to the bench. For a player with potential like Lance, I find it too risky to start him opening week. It’s just not a smart decision, and isn’t great at all for his future if he can’t get W’s.
A team that was in a similar situation like this last season were the Miami Dolphins. They had a veteran who had been named starter week 1, as well as a top 5 pick who was coming off of a horrific injury. Miami started to get in sync with Fitzpatrick, the receivers started clicking and they were looking to become a wild card team. Then, the Dolphins shockingly decided to bench Fitz and start Tua, and ended a 10-6 team that didn’t make the playoffs. It was obvious that Tua wasn’t normal, and was feeling pressured to deliver.
I feel like San Francisco needs to learn from this situation last year. Garoppolo is capable of being this team’s starter for at least this season, then the rest is up to the organization. He has a solid group of receivers, a solid coaching staff, and a solid arm. This team may not win the NFC West, but they can still make the playoffs and become a legitimate threat.
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