Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Why PFF believes Trey Lance is in a good situation with 49ers in 2022

May 4, 2022 at 9:37 AM--

Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones. Those are the former first-round quarterbacks set to enter their second NFL seasons. Lawrence and Jones started all 17 games in 2021. Wilson started 13, and Fields started 10. Lance earned just two starts. However, that doesn't mean the soon-to-be 22-year-old San Francisco 49ers quarterback isn't set up for success.

Analyst Sam Monson ranked the current team situations for the NFL's top second-year quarterbacks in 2022. Zach Wilson topped the list after the New York Jets' offseason efforts to build around their own 22-year-old quarterback. Right behind him, though, is Lance, who comes in at No. 2. That makes sense. After all, he's on a team that has been to the NFC title game twice in the past three seasons.

While Lance is slated to be the 49ers' starting quarterback in 2022, the starter of the past four-and-a-half seasons, Jimmy Garoppolo, remains on the roster because the team has been unable to facilitate a trade. He is still recovering from the shoulder surgery he underwent on March 8.

While the team hasn't completely dismissed the possibility, most don't expect Garoppolo and his hefty salary-cap figure to remain on the roster for the upcoming season.

"Theoretically, Lance still has the best environment for success of any of these young quarterbacks," wrote Monson, "but his major problem is that there's another quarterback still in front of him. The draft presented the best chance of the 49ers trading Jimmy Garoppolo to open up the starting spot for Lance.

"San Francisco has been pretty sparse in its indications that Lance is the guy, and after a rookie season in which he played just 179 total snaps, he needs to do something special in training camp to lock down the job once and for all."

That's not entirely accurate. No, the 49ers haven't come right out and said Lance is their Week 1 starter in 2022. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan has never been quick to publicly declare a quarterback's place on the depth chart. Remember, he never did so leading into the 2021 season. Reporters pretty much had to trick Garoppolo into revealing he was the starter.

Yes, Garoppolo remaining causes some uncertainty; all the more reason for the team to find a way to get him off the roster. However, team decision-makers, like Shanahan, have made it clear that the plan has always been to start Lance as soon as he was ready. And the team has praised Lance's progress compared to when he was drafted last year.

"That's why we looked into trading Jimmy, because we obviously believe Trey can be a starter, and we're ready to do that," Shanahan said in March. "... We brought Trey to be [the starter] eventually, and I think that will be sooner than later."

Monson adds that Lance will have plenty of offensive weapons at his disposal once he does start. It's a unit that boasts tight end George Kittle and could feature Deebo Samuel—if the team can find a way to make its disgruntled wide receiver happy.

"Samuel is excellent in all areas of the game and would be a great conventional receiver, but what makes this supporting cast so good is how it causes defenses problems within the Shanahan scheme through unusual positions and alignments," wrote Monson.

"While the offensive line was outstanding last season, it lost players in the offseason and needs to be wary of the interior becoming a problem. Trent Williams is coming off a 96.6 PFF grade — the highest ever given to an offensive tackle — and is a one-man bulldozer at left tackle."

Then, of course, you have Shanahan, who calls the offensive plays for the team. The head coach and play designer always tries to find new and innovative ways to get the best out of his offensive weapons.

"In terms of coaching, no scheme does more for its players than Kyle Shanahan's," added Monson. "He is able to maximize the impact of each man on the field and has turned even replacement-level quarterbacks into productive players. Lance couldn't ask for a better chance in the NFL than Shanahan operating his marionette strings from the sideline, but he needs to win the starting job or it's all for naught.

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