Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Montana, Young weigh in on Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to 49ers

Sep 15, 2022 at 7:46 AM--

Is a San Francisco 49ers quarterback controversy brewing? That depends on who you ask. Many have discussed the possibility this week because it's a hot topic considering the Chicago Bears' upset win over the Niners in Week 1. The far-more-talented 49ers should be 1-0 right now, but they aren't. Trey Lance, being the starting quarterback now, will have to shoulder much of the blame whether that is fair or not (it's not, by the way).

Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo, who most expected to be traded or released this offseason, remains on the roster. He watched from the sidelines as his one-time protégé dealt with the rainy elements in his third career NFL start.

Lance struggled. That much cannot be denied. His inexperience showed. Suppose things don't get better for the 22-year-old quarterback. How long before head coach Kyle Shanahan starts second-guessing his plan for this season, especially considering his roster is bursting with talent at nearly every other position? That is especially true on the defensive side of the ball.

Two 49ers legends know a thing or two about quarterback controversies. While they have no doubt that one could emerge in Santa Clara in the coming weeks, they agree that Garoppolo remaining with the Niners this season is a win for the team. It's for different reasons, though.

"I think it's good that they brought him back," Joe Montana told Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Yeah, they moved on, but they also know that they can win with Jimmy, at least to a point. It gives them an option if Trey isn't getting it done."

Those words don't exude confidence in Lance. That's because Montana isn't sure what to make of the young quarterback yet. Honestly, no one is. No one can be. As stated above, Lance has only three starts under his belt. He had just one full season as a starter in college. Lance is very much a work in progress, but the potential is there.

"We have no idea if Trey will be able to do it," Montana said. "If he can do it, great. If he can't, you can go with Jimmy until you figure out what to do next."

Steve Young does not doubt that Lance is an "elite processor" of the game. That, paired with his ability to improvise when things break down, potentially gives Shanahan a quarterback unlike any he has had over his coaching career. Certainly not during his tenure with the Niners. However, the Hall of Fame quarterback still has questions surrounding Lance's accuracy and ability to be consistent. Those are things we'll learn about Lance as he continues to develop.

Luckily for Lance, he is part of a strong locker room that trusts the organization's roster-building plan.

"It's a locker room that's mature, and the leaders of this team need to police the locker room," Young told Silver. "The locker room needs to be firm in what the owner and the organization have already decided. Jimmy can be an aid; him being here, as long as the locker room is firm, is a net positive. If the locker room fractures over this, then all these fears are justified, and it can all devolve quickly."

Lance can start changing the emerging narrative on Sunday against the division-rival Seattle Seahawks. His 49ers can't afford to fall to 0-2, not with this much talent on the roster and so many high expectations for this season, inside and outside the team's facilities.

Click here to read Silver's full feature for the San Francisco Chronicle.


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