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D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports


Can 49ers Trey Lance Be The First Rookie To Win A Super Bowl As Starting Quarterback?

Marc Adams
Jun 4, 2021 at 12:27 PM0


As hard as it is to believe, no rookie has ever won the Super Bowl as a starting quarterback. You would think that after 55 years of Super Bowls, at least one rookie quarterback would have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy following his team's victory. But it has not happened. In fact, no rookie quarterback has even led his team to the game. None. In 55 years!

A few have come close. Only three have led their teams as far as the conference championship game. In 2004, Ben Roethlisberger led the Pittsburgh Steelers to the AFC Championship Game. Mark Sanchez took the New York Jets to the AFC Championship Game in 2009, before losing to Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts. Joe Flacco was able to take the Baltimore Ravens to the AFC Championship Game in 2008, but ultimately fell short.

There have been a few quarterbacks who won a Super Bowl as the starter in their second seasons. Tom Brady was the first (2001 with New England). Roethlisberger did it in 2005 with Pittsburgh. And Russell Wilson did it in 2013, with a team I can't bring myself to mention.

Dan Marino (Dolphins in 1984) and Colin Kaepernick (49ers in 2012) both led their teams to the Super Bowl in their second seasons. Both lost. One of those losses made 49ers fans happy. The other...not so much.

As history has shown us, it is rare for a rookie QB to make it very far into the postseason. The main reason for this is that most rookie quarterbacks are drafted by bad teams. Most teams drafting high in the draft are doing so for a reason (they stink). Thus, many rookie quarterbacks end up on teams that struggled to win the season before, and likely will in the coming season.

But occasionally, a rookie falls to a team drafting low (often a team that is much better than the teams drafting at or near the top of the draft). That rookie quarterback usually has a better supporting cast and can potentially have more success. Roethlisberger is an example of this. So is Marino.

The question is: can the San Francisco 49ers' Trey Lance become the first rookie QB to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory? Or even get his team to the Super Bowl? First, he would have to unseat Jimmy Garoppolo. And as I wrote last week, I expect Garoppolo to have a good season. So beating him out won't be an easy task for the rookie quarterback, assuming Garoppolo stays healthy.

That said, I believe Trey Lance can be the first rookie quarterback to win a Super Bowl as a starter. Here are my top 3 reasons why:

The roster. Lance was drafted into a unique spot. It is not often that a team with so much talent and depth is picking third in the draft. But the 49ers traded up to the number three spot to take Lance. San Francisco is built for a Super Bowl run, and Lance could be the benefactor. We all know how great the defense is, but the offense is primed for a breakout season. With the addition of Trey Sermon, Wayne Gallman and Elijah Mitchell to an already talented group of running backs, the running game will be more explosive and consistent. And a bigger, reloaded offensive line doesn't hurt either.

The passing game should also be more effective. If Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle can stay healthy, the trio figures to be an imposing group of pass-catchers. Last year, in limited time, Aiyuk showed that he has the talent to be a number one receiver. Deebo is a solid number two. And Kittle is Kittle. If Jalen Hurd can finally get healthy and become the threat he was drafted to be, this offense could be dominant.

The coaching. Kyle Shanahan has shown the ability to take poor quarterbacks and still move the ball. Last year, the coaching staff could not overcome the many turnovers committed by some poor play at QB (Nick Mullens alone threw 12 picks in 10 games). But Shanahan has shown the ability to get quarterbacks to play above their level of talent, and he consistently schemes receivers open and finds a way to move the ball on the ground. He even has a track record of taking a rookie, dual-threat quarterback into the playoffs.

This is a talented coaching staff, and Trey Lance is going to be better because of it.

The rookie. And speaking of Lance, what he lacks in game experience, he makes up for in talent. In college, the 6'4", 226 lb. QB threw 30 touchdown passes and only one interception. He has a powerful arm. The ball explodes from his hand, and he can make all the throws an NFL QB needs to make. As a passer, he makes great decisions and has excellent vision.

Add to that his running ability (1,325 yards rushing, and 18 rushing touchdowns), and you have a weapon who can give defensive coordinators fits. At North Dakota State, Lance often looked like the best athlete on the field, especially when he took off and ran. In 2019, Lance wore a GPS device during a game. He was clocked at 21.54 mph on a long touchdown run. That would put him among some of the fastest times for NFL players.

And when you factor in some of the things we have already heard about Lance, like his work ethic, intelligence, ability to process information quickly, etc., the rookie quarterback very well could be the first one ever to lead his team to the top of the NFL mountain.
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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