Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Where 49ers’ Trey Lance landed in Chris Simms’ QB ranking

May 18, 2022 at 12:25 PM--

Last year, NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms ranked Trey Lance at No. 38 in his top 40 NFL quarterbacks. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback jumped up the ranking in his second year, but not by much. Simms has last year's No. 3 overall pick listed at No. 31 in his 2022 quarterback ranking.

Simms admits it was challenging to figure out where to place Lance within his ranking. Lance only started two games during his rookie campaign and played just 178 snaps. Most expect him to be the 49ers' starter come Week 1. Although, there are certainly those who doubt that will happen.

"I see the talent, the potential, all of that," Simms said on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast. "There's no doubt. If you are really into that, and you believe you can groom him and fix him and do some of that, I can get why you take him at No. 3. The arm is ridiculously strong, and he's a good athlete."

The 49ers must have felt that Lance could develop into an elite passer. The team didn't just take him at No. 3 overall. It traded away multiple first-round picks and a third-rounder to do so.

Simms says he hears how smart Lance is but has yet to see that brilliance on the football field. What does the analyst feel to be the biggest question surrounding Lance?

"I think the accuracy is still the biggest question," Simms responded. "Just pure ability to be a thrower and a passer. Again, every game was a [expletive] miracle to get back to 50 percent throwing. I mean, it really was. ... And I feel like Shanahan had to basically call plays to just go, 'Let's get his completion percentage up. Maybe we can end the game at 50 percent.' I really felt, as I was watching some of the games, that was part of it."

Simms also questions Lance's ability to throw catchable footballs, pointing to the drops by his targets last year during the preseason.

"He's throwing to a receiver [who isn't that far away], and he's throwing as hard as he can," Simms explained. "... It jumps out when you watch on film. ... And then, I think what added on to it, you see very few real quarterback plays [where he would] go through the pocket, read it, do all that.

"A lot of his big plays on the stats were what I call Shanahan Specials, where it's a great throw downfield and all that, but [expletive], he's wide open by 10 miles."

Simms doesn't believe Lance is the best quarterback on the 49ers roster, admitting that he has Jimmy Garoppolo higher than Lance within his ranking. Of course, Garoppolo's rank won't be revealed until later, so we don't know how much higher up he is. Simms does note that the chances of the 49ers starting Garoppolo this season are slim. It would take a significant loss of faith in Lance for that to happen.

"They tried to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, so we know where [their mind is at]," he shared.

Simms believes Lance's potential is high, which was the narrative surrounding the young quarterback as he entered last year's draft. The analyst believes that if Lance starts, head coach Kyle Shanahan can hide the quarterback's deficiencies while highlighting his strengths.

"The 49ers maybe are the best team in football," Simms added before saying that Shanahan has to start Lance to ensure he develops into the quarterback the 49ers hope he can become. If that happens over the course of this season, Simms believes the 49ers might be a tough team to beat down the stretch.

You can watch Simms' entire breakdown below.

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