Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

‘I know he’s got my back’: 49ers rookie Trey Lance discusses relationship with Jimmy Garoppolo

Jan 3, 2022 at 9:37 AM--

San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance feels like he's learned a lot this season, even after spending most of it on the sideline. He's had a great mentor in veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, the team's starter, and feels well-prepared for whatever the team asks of him.

On Sunday, Lance got the opportunity to make his second career NFL start. It was the home finale for the 49ers and his first start and significant action since Week 5. Lance emerged with his first victory and isn't just grateful for the lessons learned from Garoppolo. He's also thankful for the veteran's support through what could have been an awkward situation.

"Yeah, I've said a million times, Jimmy is one of the best teammates and leaders I've ever been around," Lance told reporters after the game. "So for me to have him, I know he's got my back on the sideline, whether good play or bad. He's the first one that is talking to me and making sure that we're seeing things the same way. So it's a huge help to me. Huge confidence booster, just that I know that he's another guy that's got my back."

Sunday's start came because Garoppolo suffered a thumb injury in Week 16. The 49ers hope he can return for the regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on January 9.

Eventually, Lance will permanently replace Garoppolo. San Francisco traded a haul of draft picks to move up to the No. 3 overall pick to select him in April. On Sunday, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported that Garoppolo would likely need surgery once the season is over. If he can't return this season, we may have seen the last of him in red and gold.

Garoppolo tried to play on Sunday but couldn't practice last week. Still, head coach Kyle Shanahan clung to hope that Garoppolo might be healthy enough to start against the Texans.

While Lance took all of the starting reps in practice last week, and things were trending toward him starting, he didn't know for sure until the day before the game.

"Really, not until probably yesterday (Saturday), for sure, for sure," Lance admitted on Sunday. "But you know, I obviously am with Jimmy every day, asking him how he's feeling and everything like that. And he was making good progress, I know, at the end of the week, so I know he was frustrated that he wasn't able to go."

While fans wonder if the Lance era has started for the 49ers, the rookie quarterback knows that nothing is certain in the NFL. When the season opened, Lance was Garoppolo's backup, and he's okay with that role headed into Week 18. Of course, he's also prepared to do whatever the team needs.

"It's kind of a thing where I'm always ready to go," Lance added. "That's my job. So if Jimmy's healthy, he'll be the guy. And if not, I'm going to do whatever I can to kind of fill my role."

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