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Regardless of outcome, the 49ers handled the QB2 announcement poorly

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 25, 2023 at 12:14 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers made headlines earlier this week, as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported that the team was naming Sam Darnold as their backup quarterback over former No. 3 pick Trey Lance, signifying the likely end of a short-lived era for the organization.

Lance, who started four games in his career, now becomes the third-string quarterback for the franchise that elected to move two additional first-round picks in one of the biggest draft trades in NFL History.

While I've indicated the outcome could be happening for a while, the way the 49ers handled their business in announcing the decision and facing the lights was in a very interesting manner, and one that deserves some explaining.

The News

The news about San Francisco's decision to favor Sam Darnold over Trey Lance as the backup quarterback broke in the middle of the day Tuesday, prior to the 49ers' scheduled practice that day.

The timing was unexpected; 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan had just shared that the team wouldn't name their backup quarterback until right before the team's Week 1 bout against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and especially wouldn't do so prior to Friday's preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

That clearly wasn't true, as Shanahan provided the news to both of his quarterbacks less than 24 hours later on Wednesday morning, which quickly leaked out to the media, as local beat reporters confirmed the news broken by Rapoport and Pelissero.

Earlier today, general manager John Lynch was surprised that the news leaked outside of the building, but that was an intriguing statement, given that the 49ers gave Lance the day to clear his head. His disappearance at practice would've undoubtedly been a major storyline just a few hours after, especially given the fact that the 49ers were preparing for a Friday preseason game where the quarterback was expected to see action.

But, back to the handling of the news.

Kyle's Response

The 49ers' couldn't have gotten the response to their decision any more wrong.

Not only did head coach Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch not face the lights after practice, but the 49ers sent out linebacker Fred Warner to field questions about the quarterback battle, which he clearly wasn't equipped to respond about.

Then, Shanahan went on a pre-recorded KNBR appearance on Tuesday where he wasn't truly questioned on the decision, Lance and a potential trade request, and other topics that need answering, given the timing of the team's decision.

Following that, general manager John Lynch spoke on Thursday, where he didn't clarify much on the situation, instead continuing to praise Lance for his offseason work and calling the situation unfortunate for the former No. 3 pick.

For a decision of such magnitude, given the amount of baggage that Lance carries with his draft status, it was a weak move by Shanahan and Lynch to not face the lights and provide answers for their choices immediately, rather than sending Warner out there without any help and forcing him to answer questions about decisions that aren't up to him.

The choice now leaves Lance, still only 23 years old, without a clear opportunity for the 2023 season, given how close the season is to starting, as well as his guaranteed money remaining.

Now, Lance's best chance to start in the NFL is on a different team, and that opportunity likely only comes next season with a different team in a true prove-it year for the quarterback, as he'd be on a one-year deal that is partially guaranteed.

While I can understand the decision the 49ers made(more on that in a different article), the announcement and actions after are very questionable from Shanahan and Lynch, who still have yet to face the music for their choices.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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  • Bill
    No, the 49ers did not handle this poorly. At all. Trey Lance requested a trade. The team complied with his request. Period. End of story.
    Aug 28, 2023 at 2:41 PM
  • Chance
    Fanning the flames of controversy. I’m disappointed that this site I’ve spent over 15 years contributing on has resorted to hiring Cohnian hacks. If I wanted ill-informed opinions, I would read the Trey Lance thread in NT.
    Aug 25, 2023 at 3:35 PM
  • Big Al
    Have you ever heard of the phrase "trying to light a fire..". Seems to have worked on you. Maybe it will work for Lance.
    Aug 25, 2023 at 1:58 PM


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