D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Brooks: Trey Lance will lead the 49ers to the playoffs this season

May 22, 2021 at 8:00 AM--

Analyst Bucky Brooks has a lot of belief in San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance. So much so that he believes the 21-year-old can lead the team to the playoffs this season, despite having played in only one game — an October 3, 2020, non-conference game — over the past 497 days.

"It's only a matter of time. The clock is ticking on Jimmy Garoppolo's tenure with the 49ers," Brooks said this week during FOX Sports' Speak for Yourself (h/t to Patrick Tulini). "They've said it. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have [gone] on record and said, 'When Trey Lance is ready to play, we will know it, and he will play.' They're not saying that Jimmy Garoppolo dictates when Trey Lance gets on the field. They're saying when Trey Lance is ready to play, he will get his chance to get on the field."

Lance's abilities aren't the only thing that has Brooks thinking the first-year quarterback will be ready to step in and make an impact during the upcoming season. Garoppolo's injury history influenced the prediction too.

Garoppolo missed 10 games last season due to ankle injuries. He missed 13 games in 2018. He's only once made it out of September injury-free when he has opened the season as a starting quarterback. That was during the 2019 season when he helped guide the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance.

While the 49ers have declared that the plan is to enter Week 1 with Garoppolo as the team's starter, Brooks feels that history is more than likely to repeat itself at some point this season. The analyst strongly believes that Lance will take over the talented roster for Garoppolo — maybe sooner rather than later.

"So, we don't know when that's going to happen," Brooks continued. "Is that going to happen coming out of preseason? Is that going to happen in the middle of the season? But the one thing that we do know: It is going to happen.

"I'm banking that it happens this year because, remember, the guy that he is backing up right now, Jimmy Garoppolo, has proven that he has a tough time staying healthy and availably. I heard you guys talking about the number one quality that coaches look for. You guys said ability. I would say availability, and Jimmy Garoppolo has shown he is not available. So sometime this season, we're going to see Trey Lance get that job, and when he gets it, he won't give it back."

Show hosts Marcellus Wiley and Emmanuel Acho believe that Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears is the most likely rookie quarterback to lead his team to a playoff appearance. They make an excellent case by breaking down the deficiencies of the other teams in the NFC North. Brooks believes it ultimately comes down to the question marks surrounding head coach Matt Nagy more than any lack of confidence in Fields.

"Here's why I'm so bullish on the 49ers and Trey Lance," Brooks added. "We've seen a 49ers team two years ago go to the Super Bowl, and had the Kansas City Chiefs dead to rights, had the game in their bag going into the fourth quarter, and they couldn't get it done. When they couldn't get it done then, that's when the expiration date of Jimmy Garoppolo came to fruition, when it came to the mind of Kyle Shanahan, because Kyle Shanahan looked across the field and saw Pat Mahomes being creative, being innovative, being able to make plays off the cuff.

"And then he goes back, and he looks at Jimmy Garoppolo. He not only looked at how Jimmy Garoppolo played in that Super Bowl when he scoured the game take, he then had to look at Jimmy Garoppolo for part of 2020, and he's just not satisfied with what he had.

"... Trey Lance is a special player, and I just cannot believe that Kyle Shanahan is going to idly sit back and wait for Trey Lance to get into 2022 before he unwraps the toy. This is happening in 2021. And because he's joining a team that is already proven to be a Super Bowl-caliber team, this team goes to the playoffs with Trey Lance; No. 5 leading the way."


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