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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports names Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Trey Lance as 49ers’ top camp battle

Jul 27, 2021 at 6:38 AM--

There are many position battles to keep an eye on during the San Francisco 49ers' training camp. Which receiver will get the most playing time behind Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel? Will a young star cornerback emerge and climb the depth chart? Who will help Raheem Mostert contribute to what the team hopes is a punishing rushing attack?

With the team's first practice scheduled for tomorrow morning, that's not where most of the attention will be, though.

Marc Ross of released his list of each team's top training camp battle to track, and he believes the focus in Santa Clara should be on the quarterback position. Adding a rookie with a high draft pick while already having a veteran with a winning record is a recipe for headlines.

The 49ers plan to have Jimmy Garoppolo start Week 1 against the Detroit Lions and continue starting for as long as he can. That will allow Trey Lance to sit and learn behind the veteran and only step into the starting role when head coach Kyle Shanahan is convinced he is ready.

Ross notes that Garoppolo owns a 22-8 regular-season record as a starter and has appeared in a Super Bowl since joining San Francisco via a trade in 2017. While there is little doubt surrounding his ability to win games, there is doubt surrounding his availability. The quarterback has missed 23 games over the past three seasons.

"He's not a top-10 quarterback, but he's good enough within the system to routinely pile up victories," wrote Ross. "However -- and this is a big concern -- he seems to always be hurt, with the most recent setback being ankle issues that cost him all but six games in 2020. Of his four seasons in San Francisco, Garoppolo has only played one (!) full regular-season slate."

Adding Lance with the No. 3 overall pick not only improved the 49ers' quarterback depth, but it also created a plan for eventually moving on from Garoppolo. Maybe that happens at some point this season, but ideally, team decision-makers would like to see Garoppolo succeed with the championship-caliber roster they have built. That scenario would increase his value, and then the 49ers could transition to Lance down the road while getting more in return for Garoppolo.

However, the writer believes Garoppolo's injury history makes the 49ers' quarterback battle one to watch in training camp.

Added Ross: "Team CEO Jed York has suggested the ideal situation is for Lance, who comes in with limited experience but big potential as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, to not play this season. An injury to Garoppolo could change the story, making this battle one to monitor."

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