Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


49ers’ Kyle Shanahan: I don’t know any rookie who can unseat Jimmy Garoppolo at his best

Aug 2, 2021 at 7:22 AM--


Peter King of NBC Sports attended a practice last week and witnessed why San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance is creating some Bay Area buzz.

"Oooooohhhhhhhhhh," was the sound coming from the rookie's new defensive teammates on the sideline after the quarterback connected with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

"Translation: This kid might be the goods," King wrote.

That's the hope in Santa Clara. The 49ers gave up a lot — including multiple future first-round picks — to acquire the young passer. The team can be patient in Lance's development, though. It has Jimmy Garoppolo too. Garoppolo will be the starter, allowing Lance the luxury of sitting and learning from the savvy veteran.

While Lance has not been perfect during training camp, he has shown flashes, like the play above that wowed his teammates. It may not be enough to surpass Garoppolo on the depth chart just yet, though.

"In this business, if you're trying to plan out the next six months and say, 'Where's it going?' that's a mistake," head coach Kyle Shanahan told King. "You can't do it. What I told Jimmy right when we made the trade is, 'I don't know any rookie who can come and beat you out if you're playing at his best self.'"

None of this is anything new to anyone who has followed the team all offseason. However, it's worth nothing that a week into training camp, the narrative hasn't changed.

By all accounts, Garoppolo has had a great offseason. His teammates and coaches see it. That bodes well for the Niners' plan with Lance. A healthy Garoppolo has led to wins. He is 24-9, including the playoffs, as the team's starter. If he can stay on the field, the Niners have the roster around him to win. That will give Lance the valuable time he needs to absorb everything his coaches and teammates throw at him.

"I didn't necessarily think [Garoppolo] was there last year at training camp," Shanahan continued. "Then he had the injuries and stuff. But right now I see him playing well out here. If he can continue to go that way, that's great for Trey. That's great for our team. Then Trey can wait till he's at his best self, which doesn't happen overnight. ... I truly don't know what's going to happen here."

That's up to Lance and how quickly he progresses. He knows he is the quarterback of the future, and he is working hard to be ready for that role. Each player has an iPad that they can utilize to review the film from their practices. The team logs each player's time using those iPads. King revealed that the most time recorded by a single player belongs to Lance.

On the practice field, Lance will do everything he can to show his new teammates that he can be their leader in the future.

"You see the raw talent, and you see the ball fly out of his hand. Impressive," star linebacker Fred Warner said. "Games will be different. But 11-on-11 out here is still football, and we're seeing a young guy work and be humble and make throws like that. That's what he needs to do."

An equally impressed wide receiver Deebo Samuel approached Shanahan at one point and said, "This guy's got some balls."

"And I think that's what the guys feel," Shanahan added. "He goes out there, and he's not scared to fail. He goes out there and lets it rip, and there's some good, some bad. Players can feel it. When you're not scared to fail, and you're talented, you do things the right way, guys believe it's a matter of time."

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