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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

PFF: 49ers have ‘cautious optimism’ about Trey Lance, but NFL scout sees keeping Jimmy Garoppolo as a ‘bad sign’

Sep 1, 2022 at 8:32 AM--

How does one interpret the San Francisco 49ers holding onto quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for one more season after spending the entire offseason declaring that second-year quarterback Trey Lance's time has arrived? Some merely see Garoppolo remaining as an insurance policy against potential injury or Lance faltering. Others see it as the only option for the two sides due to a nonexistent trade market for the veteran quarterback.

Some view the move as the 49ers hedging on Lance, unsure that the 22-year-old is ready to lead the team on his own.

Pro Football Focus reporter Doug Kyed has heard that San Francisco has "cautious optimism" about Lance this season. The hope is that the former No. 3 overall pick can live up to his potential and become a top NFL quarterback one day. He just needs experience. Lance started just one game in his final season at North Dakota State and just two games during his rookie NFL campaign with the 49ers last year.

While Kyed has heard there is optimism about Lance coming out of Santa Clara, others aren't so sure.

"One AFC scout isn't buying the 49ers' trust in Lance and believed San Francisco's decision to retain Garoppolo rather than outright releasing him was a 'bad sign' for the North Dakota State product," wrote Kyed.

Another AFC scout believes the 49ers approached the offseason correctly, declaring that the team was in Lance's hands now and that the Garoppolo era was over. Yes, Garoppolo remains on the roster, but it never looked like that would happen. The veteran will take his first practice snaps since last year's playoffs with the team today—on September 1. Before that, he wasn't even attending team meetings and didn't have a playbook.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan felt the chances of the 49ers-Garoppolo marriage continuing another season were "slim to none." Instead, everything pointed toward a divorce.

Garoppolo's new deal makes his salary more desirable, not just to the 49ers but to other teams. If something were to happen to another NFL starting quarterback, trading for Garoppolo is more palatable. Yes, Garoppolo has a no-trade clause, but that simply ensures he has the final say on where he might end up.

"The less a contract is, the more enticing you always are at every single position, for every team," Shanahan said.

Despite the lack of trade interest in the quarterback, there are still those around the league who believe Garoppolo, at least right now, is better than Lance.

"A personnel executive said he wasn't surprised by the 49ers' decision to retain Garoppolo because 'I still think Jimmy is better than Lance' but noted he's always been a fan of the 30-year-old signal-caller," wrote Kyed.

If Lance struggles this season, prepare for a media outcry supporting Garoppolo taking over. After all, the roster is talented enough that the 49ers should be considered candidates for a deep playoff run. The team has gotten to the conference title game in two of the last three seasons with Garoppolo at the helm of the offense.


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