D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Round Table: When will Trey Lance get his first start for the 49ers?

Jul 23, 2021 at 11:06 AM--

Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers when the team opens the regular season on September 12 against the Detroit Lions. How long he remains the starter is the question. San Francisco traded up to draft Garoppolo's eventual successor, Trey Lance, at No. 3 overall. He will bring a much different dynamic to head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. The inexperienced quarterback just needs time to learn and master the playbook and scheme.

We asked our 49ers Webzone contributors to predict when Lance will get his first start. Below are the responses in the order in which they were received.

Chaz Inouye

The 49ers should get off to a strong start with what looks to be an easy schedule to begin the season with Jimmy Garoppolo likely to be the Week 1 starter. However, on paper, Weeks 4-9 is a tough slate of games, and the 49ers could lose some ground during that stretch.

I see the 49ers going to Trey Lance in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars to give them a spark towards the end of the season. He may or may not keep the job, but he would provide a boost if the team struggles at all mid-season.

Levin T. Black

I wouldn't be surprised if Lance starts Week 1, but I think Jimmy keeps the reigns a few weeks. Then, in Week 5, after Jimmy struggles against the Seahawks, is when Shanahan will have seen enough and will start Lance.

Erik Utter

Week 7 versus the Colts. After dominantly winning their first two games, the 49ers lose two of the next three headed into their bye week and use that as an opportunity to install Lance as the starter. Shanahan's intention from the moment the 49ers traded up to No. 3 in the draft was to make Trey Lance his starting quarterback. Now it's just about making the transition as seamless as possible and putting him in the best position to succeed.

Bill Brown

Best guess?

One, I believe the 49ers are committed to Garoppolo, in part. He will start the season since he is a proven commodity. Two, the 49ers want to develop Lance. To rush that process would be foolish. They have a more than serviceable quarterback who took them to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

Three, Garoppolo is good but can't stay healthy. So Lance will start and retain that position sometime mid-season. Four, who really knows what's going on in Shanahan's head? I'm convinced it's only Shanahan. He's the football "god" in whose hand our football fate lies.

It's my best guess and probably wrong.

Marc Adams

I tend to think Jimmy Garoppolo will stay healthy and play well this season. With that in mind, I'm going out on a limb and predicting Trey Lance to get his first start in Week 18 against the Rams. The 49ers will have locked up a playoff spot and will have nothing to gain or lose in Week 18. Lance makes his first start then.

David Bonilla

I don't believe Shanahan will be pressured into throwing Lance into the starting lineup before he's confident the rookie quarterback is ready to do so. This isn't necessarily a situation like in 2017 when an injury forced Jimmy Garoppolo into his first start just a month after arriving via a trade.

It could become a similar situation, though.

San Francisco has a lot of confidence in Garoppolo, and the veteran should be able to hold onto the starting job if he can remain healthy, allowing Lance the luxury of more time to master Shanahan's playbook and scheme. Can Garoppolo stay healthy through 17 games? As a starter, he's made it out of September just once during his NFL career.

I believe Garoppolo starts Week 1 and plays well with the loaded roster around him. Am I confident that he will finish the season without missing time? No. I feel like Lance's first start could come after the bye week in October, perhaps as early as Week 7 against the Colts. However, if Garoppolo does stay healthy, I can't envision Lance starting until the team's playoff position is secured.

Zain Naqvi

Trey Lance will start when he's ready. Kyle Shanahan will make that determination when he's seen enough to warrant putting Trey in the starting lineup. It could be training camp. It could be later. His timeline is 100 percent dependent on his own development and not anything external like what week it is, the team's record, how Jimmy Garoppolo is playing, etc.

If Trey can show that he's ready in training camp, he'll start early. No one really knows what to expect, but we know that Lance is a solid player with great physical tools and a ton of potential. We also know that we're going to see Trey start at some point this season. I lean towards the latter part of the season (after the BYE), with Shanahan sprinkling Trey in for different situations up to that point.

Trey Lance is the future. He's going to be a successful QB for a long time. There shouldn't be a rush to put him in there if he's not ready and risk ruining him.

Brian Renick

I am looking at the Week 9 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium as the first game that Trey Lance starts for the 49ers. The best-case scenario for this team is to have Jimmy Garoppolo start and succeed during the first half of the season to build up his trade value.

I initially wanted to lay claim to the first game after the bye week as my answer, but the 49ers have a relatively early bye in Week 6, and they play the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football in Week 7, which would be a difficult spot for the rookie to start against a good defense and on national television. In Week 8, they travel to Chicago, which would be another tough spot for the rookie's first game as it would likely be against fellow rookie Justin Fields, and the narrative would be ugly if Fields outplays him.

This leaves Week 9 against the Cardinals, which happens to be the first game after the November 2nd trade deadline.

Don Atkinson

While the temptation may be there to pull the trigger early on inserting Trey Lance, Kyle Shanahan is likely to move carefully with this, as he should. Lance will certainly get the bulk of work in the preseason, and that's Shanahan's chance to get a good gauge on Lance's state of readiness. The best scenario to start Lance might be Week 11 in Jacksonville, where the Jaguars will be running with a rookie at QB as well.

Michael Cataldo

Week 1 ... of the 2022 regular season. I see Jimmy Garoppolo staying healthy for 2021 and leading the 49ers on a deep playoff run. You'll get your chance next year, rook!

Adithya Peruvemba

I've got Trey Lance starting his first game in Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts. Facing off against fellow North Dakota State alum Carson Wentz, Lance will be under the national spotlight in his first start but will likely already have exposure in real game scenarios in the first five games of the season, running special play designs.

Though the Colts are most certainly a tough defense, coach Kyle Shanahan will make sure Lance is well-prepped and practiced for the challenge by utilizing the Week 6 bye to focus exclusively on a seamless transition between quarterbacks.

A Week 7 start not only affords Lance a sizeable chunk of time to get ready, but it also increases the chance of a planned switch in quarterbacks should Jimmy Garoppolo suffer an injury down the road.

Sasha D. Robinson

Ideally, I believe the third overall pick will get his first NFL start in his second year with the 49ers. The team supports and believes in Jimmy Garoppolo, and I feel the front office does not want Lance to play this upcoming season. The thing is, the "Ice Trey Train" can't be put off for too long. The only way Jimmy might be able to hold off Lance for one more year will be if he has a career year in passing yards, touchdowns thrown, and wins a Super Bowl. If he can't do that, 2022 is the year for the quarterback of the future — Lance.

Rohan Chakravarthi

Not anytime soon. I expect Garoppolo to remain healthy for a good portion if not all of the season, behind this improved offensive line and solid running game. The best time for Lance would be to start the season, given that the first two games are against Detroit and Philadelphia, but that's too early. Normally, a solid spot is after the bye week, but the 49ers have extremely tough opponents coming out of that week and it wouldn't be the best situation to place a young quarterback in.

I personally don't think it's this season, but if it were to happen, the earliest would be Week 11 vs. Jacksonville with a softer (but not really) stretch of games to follow there.

Chris Wilson

Lance will start his first game as soon as Shanahan can arguably start him. Although the NFL's new unofficial "dress rehearsal" week remains in flux, preseason Week 2 is the first time Shanahan can potentially sit Garoppolo in favor of the rookie.

From Shanahan's perspective, Garoppolo presents a significant problem — despite the 49ers head coach's inability to win with anyone else under center. As soon as Shanny bet his job on the success of an inexperienced but high-upside rookie, Garoppolo was history, and Lance became both the future and the present. Provided there is a "Shananaplan," Garoppolo's time on the field must be extremely limited to ensure the ex-fan-favorite doesn't win back the Faithful by doing what he does best: winning football games; or perhaps second-best, getting injured.

From Shanahan's perspective, Jimmy G and his salary need to be removed from the team as soon as possible, and the only way to accomplish this is to never let the 49ers' pre-2020 "franchise quarterback" see the field.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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