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Why Barrows doesn’t believe the 49ers trade Trey Lance this offseason

Mar 30, 2023 at 10:36 AM

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It wouldn't be a San Francisco 49ers offseason without some quarterback drama. There hasn't been confidence in the position since after the 2017 season when the team locked up Jimmy Garoppolo to a then-record contract after an impressive five-game run. Garoppolo isn't even on the roster anymore, signing with the Las Vegas Raiders this month.

General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan stated this week that if Brock Purdy were healthy, he would be the "leader in the clubhouse" to be the 49ers' Week 1 starter. Purdy is recovering from surgery to repair the ligament tear in his right elbow, throwing a wrench in that. Most don't expect Purdy to be available until September. Although, that timeline could change based the status of the quarterback's recovery in June.

The 49ers added Sam Darnold via free agency. At 25 years old and with 55 career starts, he is by far the most experienced quarterback on the roster.

Trey Lance, the quarterback the 49ers traded a haul of draft picks in 2021 to acquire, is returning from a season-ending ankle injury. Lance entered the league lacking experience, and after two NFL seasons, that hasn't changed. The quarterback has only four starts under his belt. While he spent last offseason as the undisputed starter, that is no longer the case thanks to Purdy's strong play.

"I mean, Brock played in eight games, and Trey had that job going into last season," head coach Kyle Shanahan said this week at the NFL owners' meetings. "And if he would have played eight games like that, no one else would have been able to come in and beat him out."

There has been a lot of speculation that the 49ers might look to trade Lance this offseason, trying to recoup some of what they gave up to acquire him. That would leave Darnold as the Week 1 starter if Purdy is still making his way back.

One 49ers insider doesn't see the team trading Lance, though. At least, not this offseason. That has a lot to do with San Francisco going through all four quarterbacks last season, with all four suffering injuries.

"My sense is that after seeing Purdy and Lance get injured — a lot — in their brief careers, the 49ers need numbers more than anything else this season," Matt Barrows wrote in a recent feature for The Athletic. "That's why I don't think anyone gets moved in 2023. But the overall point is that nothing has been determined, no conclusions have been reached and all scenarios are in play."

That doesn't mean the 49ers wouldn't listen to offers for Lance if another team came calling.

"We like Trey on our team right now," Lynch said. "We always joke, Kyle and I, we'd trade each other if someone gave us a good enough deal, so we listen to anything."

Teams probably wouldn't offer much for Lance. The quarterback hasn't shown enough in the NFL to warrant significant compensation. He's only made 102 career passing attempts. That's one of the reasons why Barrows believes the 49ers are better off holding onto him for at least another season.

"That's why a 2024 trade seems a lot more likely than one in 2023," Barrows noted. "It would allow Lance to increase his value. And even then, the 49ers could conclude that having multiple, capable quarterbacks is more important than extra draft picks."

Click here to read Barrows' entire feature for The Athletic.


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