Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Why Peter King believes 49ers are handling Trey Lance correctly

Oct 26, 2021 at 10:23 AM--

San Francisco 49ers fans are clamoring for their favorite team to start the No. 3 overall pick — Trey Lance. Instead, it will be Jimmy Garoppolo facing the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Perhaps, a cautionary lesson on what not to do with your rookie quarterback exists on the other sideline.

Bears rookie Justin Fields has struggled since being thrust into the starting role. He has been sacked more than any other quarterback — 22 times this season — and doesn't have many playmakers around him. Fields' six interceptions are tied for the fourth-most in the league, his 57.3 completion percentage is tied for the worst, and his 61.8 pass rating is dead last.

That isn't to say that Fields won't grow as an NFL quarterback. It's just been a rough rookie campaign for the 22-year-old.

Peter King joined 95.7 The Game on Monday. He explained why he agrees with the way head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers have handled their own rookie quarterback, bringing him along slowly and only starting him once because Garoppolo was injured.

Shanahan is starting to feel the pressure, though. His plan for the season isn't working. The 49ers are 2-4 and have lost four consecutive games. That has led to a public outcry for change.

"Here's what you say," King told Damon Bruce and Ray Ratto. "You say, 'We're going to play Trey Lance when he's ready. That's what we're going to do. This is about the next 10 to 15 years, not about trying to get us out of a huge hole this year, and perhaps doing more damage to a young player because he just wasn't ready.'

"... I agree that you play Trey Lance when, categorically, he's ready to play, and you know that he's not going to get tremendously set back by playing."

King pointed to the New York Jets' situation. Their rookie quarterback, Zach Wilson, is expected to miss two to four weeks due to a sprained PCL. King feels that maybe the Jets should have followed the same development path as the 49ers but couldn't do that because they didn't have a Garoppolo on the roster. That led to a trade for Joe Flacco following Wilson's injury.

"All I'm saying is you play Trey Lance not because the house is on fire today, and you just don't want to play Jimmy Garoppolo," King continued. "You play Trey Lance when he's ready."

Now, that's not to say that King feels that Shanahan wouldn't love to start Lance regularly. However, the rookie probably isn't far enough in his development to do so.

"You're basically seven weeks and six games into this season," King said. "You have severe doubts about one quarterback, and it almost, I sense, listening to Kyle Shanahan [on Sunday] night, I sense that he really doesn't know what to do about the quarterback situation. He obviously feels that Trey Lance isn't ready, and he doesn't want to put him into a situation before he feels like it's optimal for him to play."

Fans gave Shanahan and the 49ers a free pass last season after injuries devastated the roster. The excuses can't carry over into 2021.

Added King: "If you have your fourth losing season out of five, even if there is the promise of tomorrow with Trey Lance, it's just not good enough. Then you're going to have to wonder what other moves can they make to turn this team around right now."

You can listen to the entire conversation with King below.

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