49ers Rumors: SF Hasn't Decided How to Handle QBs Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance in 2022

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVDecember 13, 2021

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) smiles following an overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
AP Photo/Aaron Doster

The San Francisco 49ers aren't ready to hand the keys to the franchise over to Trey Lance. Not now and perhaps not even next season.

Peter King of NBC Sports reported the 49ers have not yet decided how to handle their quarterback situation in 2022. The staff is reportedly "impressed" with how Jimmy Garoppolo has handled the 49ers drafting his replacement ahead of this season.

"Jimmy's one of my favorite people that I've ever coached," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "He's a hell of a dude. He's not trying to hide anything. I also don't want to downplay it and say this whole situation is just not a big deal. It's a huge deal. Really hard on him. But he came in with the right mindset all the way back in OTAs. He hasn't gotten sideways at all through any of it. No matter what he hears, he's been the exact same guy I've known the four years prior, and that's given us a chance to fight through this year. It's given us the chance to be where we're at right now."

The 49ers traded three first-round picks (2021, 2022 and 2023), along with a 2022 third-round pick, to move up to the third pick in April's draft and select Lance. Shanahan maintained from the outset that Garoppolo would be the quarterback for 2021 but that Lance was the future of the franchise.

Any decision that would prolong Garoppolo's time as the starter would be a massive misallocation of resources. A franchise quarterback on a rookie contract is the most valuable player in football. Since the rookie wage scale was instituted in 2011, we've seen several teams find their franchise signal-caller and be able to build juggernaut teams around their star while he's still cost-controlled.

The Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs have all won Super Bowls in the past decade while their star quarterback was playing on a rookie-scale deal. (The Eagles won with backup Nick Foles while Carson Wentz was injured, but the point about team building still stands.)

By keeping Lance on the sidelines, the 49ers would be wasting two of his four years of being cost-controlled.

It's also not as if Garoppolo has been lighting the world on fire. He's thrown for 2,937 yards and 17 touchdowns against eight interceptions, solid but unspectacular numbers that have helped the 49ers to a solid but unspectacular 7-6 record.

Garoppolo is, at best, an average NFL starting quarterback, and on most weeks he would fall below that mark. He's a bridge player while you're waiting for something better to come along. If the 49ers don't think Lance is ready to do that after almost a full year of sitting out, then it's probably time to discuss whether the team made a franchise-damaging trade.