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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Lance’s progress has Schefter questioning whether 49ers will trade Jimmy Garoppolo

Feb 23, 2022 at 9:09 AM--

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Most expect Jimmy Garoppolo to be wearing another uniform when the 2022 season kicks off. The San Francisco 49ers have last year's No. 3 overall pick, Trey Lance, waiting in the wings. Transitioning from Garoppolo to Lance would create significant salary-cap space—money that could be used to lock up stars like Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel.

Not everyone is sure Lance is ready to start and lead Kyle Shanahan's offense. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana said before the Super Bowl that he is hearing that Lance isn't ready to start, suggesting that the 49ers hold onto Garoppolo.

"I don't think Trey's ready to play yet, myself, and after talking to some of the players," Montana told The Ringer.

That, of course, sparked a lot of conversation. Others, like Steve Young, feel that if a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers are available, they should look to join the 49ers.

And not everyone is ready to assume that Garoppolo playing elsewhere is a certainty. That includes ESPN's Adam Schefter, who believes that Lance may not be progressing as quickly as some think and that the 49ers could benefit from holding onto their starter of the past four-and-a-half seasons.

"I'm just telling you that Trey Lance was probably further behind than people realized," Schefter told Ari Meirov of Pro Football Focus. "Trey Lance is greener than people realized. Trey Lance is going to need more work than people realized. And they have a roster that can win now."

Schefter goes with a hypothetical situation in which an interested team surrenders a second-round pick and includes two lower-round selections in the process, maybe something similar to what the Carolina Panthers gave to the New York Jets last year for Sam Darnold.

"OK, so let's say they get a two, four, and a six (not necessarily all in this year's draft)," Schefter continued. "Now, you're San Francisco. Now you can say, 'Jimmy Garoppolo is unquestionably one of the most popular and respected players in our locker room. Players love playing with him. We have him under contract this year at a very friendly $25 million cap number. And if we play with him this year, and we lose him after this year, we're going to get a third-round comp pick back in return.'

"So, are you better, then, playing the season with Jimmy while getting Trey the training that he still needs? Or are you better trading him for—let's just call it a two, four, and a six? What's the better alternative?"

Schefter's comments are worth discussing, especially if there is any question surrounding the speed of Lance's progress. Do you trade Garoppolo, who isn't an elite quarterback but is a known commodity, this offseason and just ride with the soon-to-be second-year player? Or do you wait, and still get a nice compensatory draft pick in return for Garoppolo later?

Also, there is also no guarantee that an NFL team will surrender the draft picks that Schefter used in his hypothetical scenario. What if the 49ers are only offered a third-rounder or lower? How does that impact your plan?

Schefter adds that just because Lance may not be ready yet, that doesn't necessarily mean the young quarterback isn't progressing.

"Let me say this: He's developing the right way," Schefter said. "They are happy with him. But I go back to my initial statement, that he did not play college football at all two years ago. He's coming from a small school, to begin with. And there is a steep learning curve for a quarterback like that who's blessed with a lot of talent, who they still are very high on.

"It's not a reflection of whether they think he's going to make it. ... I'm just giving you the other side, that I don't think it's a lock [Garoppolo] is going to be traded. He very well might, but it's not a lock."

You can watch the entire conversation with Schefter below. The portion about Garoppolo begins at about the 16:25 mark.

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